Casals & Associates, a DynCorp International company, recently supported a group of young actors in El Salvador in putting together a play that raises awareness of social issues affecting Salvadoran youth. The Casals team partnered with the drama theatre ensemble, “Grupo Realista” (“True to Life Group”), who held their debut performance of “Restricted Access,” to nearly 200 students in their community.
Casals Democracy Strengthening Program (DSP) director, Carlos Guerrero, met the founding members of the group as they performed at a community fair.
“I couldn’t help but notice their enthusiasm,” said Guerrero. “Their passion for using performing arts to disseminate objectives that paralleled that of the DSP program made for an easy partnership.”
Guerrero worked with the group and proposed a small acting project, engaging a local theater director who would help develop ideas and talents with the actors.
The youth group chose the name “Grupo Realista” because they wanted to portray real-life situations of social issues affecting many young Salvadorans like them and raise awareness. In partnership with Casals, the group gathered on a weekly basis for six-hour drama workshops to strengthen cohesiveness, develop and refine performance skills, learn how to set up a stage and write an original screenplay.
“Restricted Access” was performed at a public school in San Salvador where about 170 students from first to ninth grade enjoyed the play and learned about the recently passed right to access to public information and its importance.
“Youth groups like Grupo Realista can play a very effective role in reaching out to audiences and marginalized communities where providing easy-to-understand information ensures access for all,” said Guerrero.
Using Performing Arts for Advocacy
Convinced that the performing arts is an ideal vehicle to undertake advocacy of key issues, the DSP has entered the second phase of this pilot project which will carry the group on a tour across the country to perform “Restricted Access” in many popular venues.
“The fact that these young actors have accomplished all of this, now have a positive outlook for what they can attain, and are contributing to the future of the country is a promising parallel benefit. Hopefully, the youth of El Salvador will learn more from their example than just citizen rights,” said Guerrero.
Democracy Strengthening Program
DynCorp International, through Casals & Associates, works as an implementing partner with USAID on the Democracy Strengthening Program (DSP) in El Salvador. USAID/El Salvador’s assistance focuses on strengthening the justice system, supports anti-corruption reforms and public-private partnerships to prevent crime and violence.