Peace Through Performance: Art and ImaginAction

Written and Created by: Jaime Viggiano

One way to express frustration stemming from conflict is through art, which allows anyone to temporarily step into their own conflict-free world.

That’s where ImaginAction comes in. A non-profit theatre arts organization, ImaginAction takes their unique blend of arts and talents to bring about a better world.

“War is a collapse of the imagination,” Hector Aristizábal, founder and artistic director, said. “That’s why we live in a world of conflict, because we are living in a world of fantasy and not a world we could imagine.”

ImaginAction uses actors, directors, writers, puppeteers, clowns, storytellers and artists that come from diverse cultures, speak many languages and specialize in a wide range of skills to travel and hold workshops in communities dealing with conflict.

“The role of art is to offer a place where communities heal, a way to show grief but also celebrate life, identities and beliefs,” Aristizábal said.

ImaginAction offers a variety of workshops, ranging from introductory workshop “Tools of ImaginAction,” to “From Desire Into Action,” where Aristizabal and Alessia Cartoni offer techniques to explore desires and confront internalized oppressions, to “Playful Creative Writing,” where teens utilize various theatre arts to explore their communities’ issues.

“We offer young people a place to become who they are,” Aristizábal said. “A place to listen to stories and tell their stories to not be judged.”

According to Aristizábal, ImaginAction has used “the universal language of theatre as a springboard for people and whole communities to investigate their lives, identify their dreams and reinvent their future.” The organization has used this strategy to unite communities all over the world, in countries such as Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Palestine, Northern Ireland, Guatemala, China, England, Italy, Spain, Norway, Belgium, France, Austria, Georgia, Croatia and the Netherlands. Most recently, ImaginAction has been spending time mentoring citizens dealing with the emulation in Ukraine.

To learn more about ImaginAction and their transforming work, visit imaginaction.org.