Bonface Beti


Truth Comes in Many Colors: From Playing to Learning to Change: Imaginative Use of Theatre of the Oppressed in Conflict Transformation, Trauma and Social Healing Workshop

Both internalized oppression and structural violence are common manifestations formost post-colonial societies. This trauma continues to ravage our world to date. Eastern Africa and specifically Kenya, has not been an exception. Neither has the USA and Canada. The latest discussions have shifted on exploring how art-based interventions can help in breaking these internalized oppressions, healing of historical trauma and transformation of conflicts by helping individuals to reclaim their identities, create new relations and move towards collective imaginative emancipation and positive peace. After tracing the development of Theatre of the Oppressed in South America to North America and Europe, the planner of this workshop appreciates how this art form has redefined the complexity of how many perceive the cycles of oppression and the authenticity for the diversity of people in attendance in all these different contexts. He will work with participants in exploring the uses of applied Image Theatre, Forum Theatre and Rainbow of Desire from both an East African and North American perspective. The facilitator will draw key lessons from his own rich intercultural exchange experiences in which he has been directly involved. Amani People’s Theatre (Kenya) and Presence Center for Applied Theatre Arts (USA) have collaborated since 2010 on conflict transformation and trauma healing through participatory theatre, in African villages and slums as well as in United States of America using these theatrical forms, to mobilize collective vision for grassroots social change and trauma healing. The facilitator has also utilized these tools and facilitated such workshops within communities living in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  

This workshop will combine a lecture and experiential process all in one. I will share my experiences working with diverse communities in different places and will offer experiential processes including how I have utilized this work with diverse communities but also how attendees can deploy such processes in their own contexts and communities.


Bonface_BetiBonface Beti, MA is a passionate storyteller, theatre-maker, peace-builder, trainer and researcher with international experience. He has spent almost a decade utilizing different artistic approaches including playback theatre, as a tool and space for peace-building with communities in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Somalia, South Sudan, US, and Canada. His work and use of theatre for conflict transformation and youth violence prevention in Africa is featured at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights where he is recognized as one of leading global human rights campaigners. His work in Kenya specifically has included rescuing and rehabilitating street children through performative theatre arts. As a member of the renowned, Amani Peoples’ Theatre, Bonface Beti uses playback theatre, forum theatre and theatre of witness among other art forms with individuals and communities caught within cycles of violence to reflect on and transform issues of identity, victimhood/perpetrator, peace and violence in an artistic, non-violent way towards holistic healing, improving relationships, reducing stereotypes and increasing understanding. He has completed his graduate studies in peace-building at the University of Manitoba, Canada, where he focused on the use of the arts in community building and creating linkages across social movements.