Theatre for peace and justice in the Philippines
Teatro Ekyumenikal (Ecumenical Theatre) is a cultural theatre group established by Act for Peace partner’s the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. The group’s eclectic performances bring social justice issues to any venue, however small or large.
The theatre group reaches out to young people from different Christian traditions all over the Philippines, encouraging them to think about the Bible and how it relates to the social issues facing their communities, as well as training them to express themselves creatively and work together as a group.
The group’s motto, Abundant Life, comes from John 10:10. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” it reads. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
The group specialises in performing in unusual spaces and putting on provocative performances that make people think about how the bible relates to the issues of today. Their productions - all based on Bible verses - include music, dance, spoken word, mime and song, and are created entirely by the participants themselves.
The subject matter of the group’s plays is often gritty - the plight of illegal migrant workers, for example, or the impacts of mining and climate change. But “our performances always end with the message that there is hope,” says Rommel Linatoc, the group’s founder.
Colleen is a student college who joined Teatro Ekuymenikal (TE) and explains how this has changed her life: “My time with TE has given me an advanced understanding of the lives of marginalised people. It’s a privilege to speak for these people, to be a voice for the voiceless.”
So far, the group’s message is spreading far and wide - even internationally since they’ve been invited to perform at Christian conferences in South Korea, Indonesia and Germany.
The theatre program is part of a wider program in the Philippines intended to strengthen interfaith dialogue and bring young people together to talk about issues of peace and justice. Youth groups from different faiths come together to perform for their communities and discuss their common concerns, challenges and hopes for the future.
While the Philippines is regularly affected by extreme weather events such as Typhoon Haiyan, the ongoing clan warfare has exacerbated household and community displacement and created a climate of fear. The impact of government military operations and the actions of multinational mining and extraction companies has also caused significant damage to the lives and livelihoods of indigenous populations.
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Founded in 1963, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) is an ecumenical fellowship providing service in responding to key issues of justice and peace, human dignity and rights. With the support of Act for Peace, NCCP has provided meaningful opportunities for young people in the Philippines to promote peace and justice through the use of theatre and to spark conversations about national and current issues, such as climate change and human rights.