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Mindlab about to start: 'Theatre can help us have a good conversation'

The Mindlab theatre and discussion programme will start at the Faculty of Humanities at the end of September. University lecturers Tazuko van Berkel and Sara Polak were moderators at the first session.

The Mindlab play addresses different forms of social insecurity and thus serves as a conversation starter to make social safety discussable. The first performance was held in June for all faculty executives. In September, the play will be performed six times. After the performance, you will engage in group discussions on the theme of the play.

'Theatre is an ideal medium for discussing difficult topics on which multiple perspectives are possible,' says Van Berkel. 'With a theatre play, you really have to do your best to put take on a different viewpoint. That helps to have a high-quality conversation afterwards, with everyone stepping out of their comfort zone a bit. Besides, we are all humanities scholars. Looking at art and reflecting on it: that’s what we are good at.

Interpreting together

To have a good conversation, not everyone needs to be personally touched by the play. 'The play is beautifully made and well performed, but the situations shown are not always subtle,' says Polak. 'As a result, it's quite easy to keep it at a distance from yourself, especially if you look at it analytically. With our group, we had to work through the fact that the participants were also critical of the play, so I hope that in the follow-up discussions, the groups take their time to come to a shared interpretation of the play and see what underlying values emerge.

Underlying values

'It would be nice if people get to the point of telling smaller personal stories in the follow-up discussions,' says Van Berkel. 'You can talk about terms like "integrity", but the play illustrates very nicely that these are empty phrases if there is not also an underlying value present.'

'For example, what do you do when you see something happening out of the corner of your eye?' adds Polak. 'A manager has a go at a junior colleague, you don't really have anything to do with it, but you feel it's not OK. In a group discussion, you can explore together what values you need to deal with that. The play suggests you need “courage” for that. We are curious to see what the discussion groups think about it.'

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