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“…the best support comes from the community”

At the end of July, our 10-day-long What’SAP Academy was finally possible. With this event, after many, many online meetings, our two-year project has finally started its live journey, with the main aim to promote the acceptance of social art practices as a unique and specific profession all over Europe. The project’s artistic leader, Piri Móga shares her thoughts on why this profession is important to her, how the project started, what experiences she gained during the academy, and what are the next steps of What’SAP:

“In 2018 I saw a TIE (theater in education) performance, at a high school. All the performers were actors from the local national theater, I knew them, we had worked together before. However, their acting portrayal and attitude towards the young audience was quite different than I had ever seen.

In that very year I started a drama pedagogy course at Budapest University of Theater and Film Arts. I realized that the performance I saw had features which are part of a wide and variable collection of socially engaged art practices. There are many techniques in and beyond theater for SAP, and TIE is just one of them. We do not have an exact translation for SAP in Hungarian, neither do we have a term in Czech, Serbian or French. It is still not respected as a profession. But we, socially engaged actors and artists have several methodologies and best practices across Europe with the same desire: promoting social change in our society.

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Three years later, in January 2021 the What’SAP partnership launched its big challenge, to find the answer to the big question: what does SAP mean in theory, practice and creation? In the 2 years long Creative Europe project four organizations work on the solution: Archa Theater from Czech Republic, DK-Bel Company from France, Kulturanova from Serbia and Pro Progressione from Hungary. They are all engaged in their mission, and they all agreed to work with their local target group: refugees, people with disabilities and roma youth.

The mission has started, we have done the first two milestones. Our methodological experts got to know each other and each other’s techniques during online meetings, and trainees from 4 countries have been integrated into the project through the What’SAP Summer Academy.

And we, the organizers from Pro Progressione, also got our great reward: after long months of preparing, online meetings and organizing we could finally meet our partners, and their wonderful trainees in person, thanks to the What’SAP Academy!

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Our only and biggest complaint was the time frame. 10 days is too short, and it only lasts 24 hours every day. We got to know the basics of 4 different socially engaged methodologies: TIE, inclusive dance, documentary theater and devised theater, and we had special guests and great conversations on different social issues like integration of migrants, inclusion of disabled and special needs children, and disadvantaged communities such as roma youth.

At the same time we got to know each other in person. 16 trainees, each of them a different planet. But they all stand for humanity and empathy.

Methodologies are only artistic tools, though we cannot work without well-structured techniques, but the most important things are our intentions.

We lived through several amazing and remarkable moments during these 10 days. The participants gained courage to share personal stories in documentary theater, had fun using devised theater techniques, got confidence in their own bodies when they practiced inclusive dance, and were inspired by TIE and interactive techniques.

But one of our best moments was when we took part in a wonderful evening dance course from four amazing dance teachers. The girls came from a local school for adults with disabilities and formed a dance group. During the dance, the wheelchairs were just extra features, but no obstacles, as they never should have been.

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When I was working on the preparation of this project I wanted to create a program where participants could experience new methodologies not just in theory but also in practice and creation.

Our next step will be the local work, with the participants in all four countries working with different target groups for 10 months.

Being a socially engaged artist is a never-ending learning and experience, and sometimes a helper also needs help, but I feel the best support comes from the community, people who are able and willing to understand our situation. With What’SAP Academy, we have created a great community where every participant can ask for help or support if they need it.”

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