Storytelling and Gender Justice workshop with Yuyachkani

Saturday, October 6, 2007
3:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Shapiro Campus Center
Brandeis University

Notes by Mark Auslander

In conjunction with the conference, "Peacebuildng and Development on the World Stage" in early October 2007 the Cultural Production program & the Community Engaged Learning program offered a special university-community workshop on storytelling and gender justice, with special attention to issues of gender, security and justice faced by women in Waltham's immigrant communities. This event featured actors from the renowned Peruvian theatrical collective Yuyachkani, which has played a vital role in post conflict reconciiation work in the Andes. The event was held in English and Spanish. Childcare was provided for registered participants.

This event was a collaborative effort between Brandeis and its community partners in Waltham. Brandeis supporters include Coexistence International, Theater without Borders, Slifka Program in Intercommunal Coexistence, the M.A. in Cultural Production program and the Community-Engaged Learning program. Community partners include Breaking Barriers, the Waltham Alliance to Create Housing (WATCH), REACH and the Latinas "Know Your Rights" Project at Greater Boston Legal Services

This workshop involved eighteen families from Waltham Family School (WFS), in conjunction with the residency of the popular Peruvian theatrical group Yuyachkani. Student volunteers drove vans from the WFS on a Saturday to campus, bringing mothers and their children. The adult women and volunteer Brandeis students and faculty participated in a marvelous acting and movement workshop, led in Spanish by the Yuyachkani actors, Anna Correa and Augusto Casafranca. concentrating on trust building, relaxation and expression. I've been in many acting workshops but never seen anything that approached the brilliance, skill and compassion of Anna and Augusto.

Meanwhile, Brandeis students, including members of the Waltham Kids Club, held art making workshops for the children. That evening we took parents and children for dinner at Sherman cafeteria; the adults then attended a brilliant performance, in Spanish, of Anna Corea's extraordinary one woman show, "Rosa Cuchilo" (a complex ritualized drama about a peasant woman searching for her son, a victim of military human rights atrocities.) At the end of the performance, Anna scattered rose petals over the audience, and the WFS women, seated in the front row, grasped at these with delight. My colleague Fernando Rosenberg and I then led a conversation with Anna Correa and the audience about ritual, memory and sublimation.

I will never forget the scene that evening as mother and children joyously met up after the performance and headed towards the waiting vans in front of Spingold theater. The children excitedly raced along the top of the low wall along the Great Lawn, proudly showing off their decorated paper airplanes they had made upstairs. Their mothers, laughing, ran alongside them, showing the dance moves of power and joy they had learned in the workshop. At the end of the wall, each child fearlessly hurled himself or herself into space, holding high their airplane, caught in the arms of our students as the mothers applauded.

Play description:
Unipersonal de Ana Correa

Un rito de purificación, limpieza y florecimiento a la usanza tradicional de algunos pueblos de los Andes del Perú. Es la historia de una causa de amor. Rosa Cuchillo es la madre que busca mas allá de la muerte a su hijo desaparecido, recorriendo los otros mundos (el Mundo de Abajo “Uqhu Pacha” y el Mundo de Arriba “Hanaq Pacha”). Su retorno a esta tierra (“Kay Pacha”) busca armonizar la vida y a través de la danza, ayudar a que “florezca la memoria”.

Documental testimonial sobre el acompañamiento artístico de Yuyachkani a la Primera Audiencia Pública de la Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación en Ayacucho.