Changing Society Through Art

Over the weekend UWC Dilijan hosted the NCA. Small Theatre of Yerevan. On Saturday its Founder and Artistic Director Vahan Badalyan gave a masterclass to the UWC Dilijan students, and presented two performances of “ Ne me quitte pas” on Sunday to the entire Dilijan community.

More than 35 students from the Theatre and English Literature and Performance classes, as well as a number of interested students, attended the masterclass given by the famous Armenian theatre director Vahan Badalyan. The masterclass, conducted together with the actors of the inclusive troupe, included a series of exercises aimed at developing skills like free-flowing movement, engagement, imagination and attention to one another, uniting the whole troupe and increasing the sense of connectivity within the group. Vahan usually practices this training with his professional actors and dancers, including those from the inclusive troupe. With the exercises focused on movement, the multinational UWC Dilijan community enjoyed the unexpected understanding and sensitivity that arose through exchanging glances and interacting with partners even without touching or speaking to one another.

“Hosting workshops by professional theatre companies such as NCA. Small Theatre provide students with a unique opportunity to interact with a group of artists dedicated to exploring and strengthening their craft. Additionally, having the opportunity to ask questions directly to the artistic director, Vahan Badalyan, gives an invaluable insight into the real-world challenges facing an artistic enterprise”, said Jason Lasky, UWC Dilijan Theatre teacher.

The performance of “Ne me quitte pas” was a combination of this famous and touching song by the Belgian songwriter, singer and director Jacques Brel, presented in multiple languages and by different singers, with contemporary dance and short recorded interviews with the actors. The music, the body language of the bare footed expressive dancers overlayed with simple words about love had a deep impact on the audience, half of which were sobbing by the end of the show.

“Such inclusive performances are very important from an educational and social point of view as they are the only illustration of the changing attitude to the disabled in society. All the performances with the inclusive troupe invoke so much emotion, which breaks down psychological barriers”, said Vahan Badalyan after the show.

The success of this initial cooperation between the NCA. Small Theatre and UWC Dilijan paves the way for more master classes by Vahan and new performances for the Dilijan public.

The National Centre of Aesthetics (NCA) Small Theatre is one of Armenia’s young and innovative theatre companies currently making waves. The theatre was founded about 25 years ago as a drama studio, with a mission to facilitate independent creativity, and become a platform for realizing different educational programmes for young people and teenagers interested in theatre art. NCA. Small Theatre performances incorporate many art forms, synthesizing text with movement, dance, music and, more recently, film. In 2013, the NCA. Small Theatre partnered with the British Council in the establishment of an inclusive troupe, and since then three performances for them have been staged and shown at many international arts festivals. It was the first in Armenia that a professional ensemble with disabled actors had been created.