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Road to peace

28 Nov 2005

An interview with Robert Morgan, founding Artistic Director of the Children’s Peace Theatre

With the constant news of bombings and uprisings these days, it’s refreshing to find someone who still believes in world peace.  Not just believes, but is also doing his part to make it happen.

Each summer at the Children’s Peace Theatre, Robert Morgan, Artistic Director, holds a three week peace camp located in the Massey-Goulding Heritage Estate, in Toronto’s east end.  This intergenerational and intercultural group includes participants from ages 7 to 75, who come together to explore conflict on a personal, familial, communal and global level.

“They improvise, write, and journalize their thoughts, allowing themselves to be lead to valuable places,” says Morgan over the telephone.  “In the process they learn how to best respond to conflict.”  At the end of the three weeks, a production emerges based on their explorations.

According to Morgan, theatre is a good tool to help examine conflict.  “Everyone becomes part of a company of actors working towards exploring the realities of their lives.  Sometimes we don’t know what’s going on in our lives, but we can dance about it or sing about it.  We can listen to the tale of the Cree, or read the Koran and it brings meaning,” says Morgan.  “We can use the practice of theatre, to engage in conflict with courage, compassion and creativity.”

A multi-award winning playwright, producer, and director, Morgan has created many productions for young audiences.  He believes that for peace to take place it must begin at a young age.  Although the group includes many professional musicians, dancers and performing artists, the children are encouraged to take a leadership role.  The adults are there to guide and observe.  The process seems to be working, drawing international attention.

In 2001, the Children’s Peace Theatre received an invitation to New York City, to perform for the United Nations Special sessions for Children of the World.  CPT had prepared performance pieces for 75 heads of state.  It was the first time the UN had devoted a special session to Children of the World.  But it was Sept.11, 2001.  When they arrived at the border they received news of the World Trade Center bombings and decided it was safer to turn back.  Based on their experiences a deeply moving performance piece was created.

“Peace lies in the heart of conflict.  It’s not the resolution of conflict.  Some conflict will never be resolved,” says Morgan.  “Maybe conflict isn’t bad.  It could be a creative force in our lives.  If we can take the combat out of conflict it can be viewed as a force that helps us.”

For Morgan his work at CPT has been the most challenging yet the most rewarding.  He doesn’t measure his achievements based on awards.  More important is the experience of the participants in creating a collective together as they work through the conflict in their lives.

Morgan’s vision of what the culture of peace would look like is similar to many noteworthy peacemakers such as Mandela.    “Where there is no retribution for your crime but instead you sit down with the father of the man who died at your hand.  It goes beyond being sorry and goes further by saying we are all connected,” says Morgan.

“I’m passionately connected to what I do.  I wake up every morning with the notion that peace is possible.”

For more info on the Children’s Peace Theatre visit www.childrenspeacetheatre.org

At the Heart of the Storm will be performed on July 21, 22 and 23 rd .

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