Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Drama Education in Croatia Today - an Experience Based Story

Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Drama Education in Croatia Today - an Experience Based Story

Article excerpt

1. Starting point

Social, educational and therapeutic potentials and benefits of drama and theatre activities especially in working with children and young people become widely recognized in Croatia during and immediately after the last wars in the region. The warfares of the 1990s, which invariably hit and lefttheir scars upon all societies in the region, in a way challenged numerous educationalists and socially aware artists to give their immediate professional and creative response to the social crisis. Many of them reacted on ethical impulse, without any previously learned lesson of how to act in such extreme situations, and spontaneously used and applied creative techniques and medium of drama and theatre in work with war-affected groups and communities. However, at that time a number of experts and professional associations working in the field of psycho-social assistance and therapy, often supported by international humanitarian organizations and institutions, has launched various emergency programmes to support war-affected groups in the war zones, refugee camps and settlements, in schools and other settings, as well as in communities affected by war and its consequences, and these projects extensively and very often primarily used drama and theatre techniques in their activities as their main methods.

2. Purpose of the review article

Starting from this initial background of a general social fracture and crisis in which creative theatre and drama proceedings have proved as valuable and effective educational and therapeutic methods, this article will describe the development of contemporary drama education in Croatia with a focus on the main activities, goals and problems which emerged as important issues in the course of the last twenty years. Although this historical analysis is rather personal and mainly experience based, still it is my belief that my article can be considered a document that bear witness of constructive engagement of Croatian educationalists in building and establishing the contemporary drama pedagogy in Croatia as an organised system, as a verified methodology and, finally, as a recognized and appreciated educational profession.

3. The pre-war roots of contemporary drama education in Croatia

Although the painful reality caused by the wars of the 1990s incited numerous educationalists, therapists and artists to react humanely and professionally to generally devastated social and family life and especially to disrupted childhood and education of practically all children in Croatia,i the awareness of the psycho-social, educational and therapeutic values of drama and theatre work with vulnerable groups could have been created not only by immediate evidences and positive effects recognized through these activities, but also thanks to the widespread creative drama practice with children and youth which existed in the pre-war period in Croatia, as well as in other parts of the former state, the practice which has been since the 1960s systematically fostered and gradually developed through the theatre education of teachers and leaders of the school theatre groups, through the school theatre festivals and through the work of several children's and youth drama/theatre studios of that period which were the hotbeds of children's scenic creativity, as it was then called. Based, on the one hand, upon this pre-war tradition of creative work with children and strongly instigated, on the other hand, by the immediate moral and professional demands of the aggravated war and post-war situation in which the majority of children lived, hence arose a great enthusiasm and willingness of numerous teachers, pedagogues, social workers, psychologists and art educators to participate and further educate themselves in drama and other creative activities which could be applied for educational and/or socio-therapeutic purposes. Since that time, i.e. immediately after the wars of 1990s, also the term drama education has gained the wider acceptance as a general concept which, although it often includes very different types and forms of drama and theatre work, has gradually acquired an increasing appreciation as socially and educationally valuable practice. …

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