• Reclaiming our Stories

    – an Empowerment Project (free of charge)

based on Theatre Methods and Non-Violent Communication

In her TED Talk „The Danger of a Single Story“ Nigerian Writer Chimamanda Adichie talks about the dangers and boundaries that arise from limited perspectives. Whenever we label people or get labeled ourselves, we become alienated from one another. In this project we work towards overcoming the world of single stories.

Methods: Non-Violent Communication: Empathetic Care-Work for yourself and others; working with labels; changing internalised beliefs; basics of conflict mediation Creative Writing and Biographical Theatre: Tell your story in a protected space and give space to others to tell their stories Theatre of the Oppressed: Discover ways to overcome oppression in a playful way.

The project is generally open to anybody, but people who have faced structural violence like racism, sexism, ageism, classism or others are especially encouraged to take part.

On this page you will find some inspiration for running empowerment projects. Exercises, important guidelines that can help create a safe space and examples of our work.

Reclaiming our Stories – Temporary Agreements

Beispiel aus einer Schreibübung: „Wie ich gesehen werde möchte.“


Biographical Object Theatre

  • One person takes a selection of round about 10 objects and puts them on one side of the room.
  • The person then takes a look at these objects and sees which moments of their lives it reminds them of. If the person is willing to share this moment with the audience, the person takes the object to the center of the room, shows it to the audience and then places the object somewhere on the floor.
  • One by one the room gets filled with objects of this person. The person may arrange them in a way that the person finds suitable.
  • When the person has finished with telling stories from the past the person may take another object as an inspiration to talk about a future hope or vision.
  • When all objects are positioned on the floor the person may look at the arrangement from a different angle and re-arrange the positions if that seems more suitable.
  • If the person agrees, questions from the audience may be accepted. Great care is recommended in the questions to respect the persons biography.
  • In the ende the person takes all the objects and puts them back to the side.

Writing Task Suggestions for Empowerment

  • Where is the strength in my body stored?
  • How do I want to be seen?
  • What is my creature of power?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • Who gives me strength?
  • The most beautiful moments of my life
  • If I ruled the world…
  • Retell fairy tales or other famous stories in a way that they resemble the world you want to live in
  • If I had a super-power it would be…
  • Where does the light take me?
  • What does your dream land look like?

Psychodrama (from the system of Moreno)

A person sits on stage on a chair. Once they get up and stand behind the chair they are no longer themselves, but somebody else, who is in favour of them (a friend, lover, family member, teacher etc.).

The audience can now get to know this person and ask them about their relationship, feelings and thoughts towards the person who was sitting on the chair.

When the person sits on the chair they are themselves again.

It is recommended to ask questions that are respectful and strengthen the self-image of the person performing. The person on stage doesn’t have to answer any questions.

Some ideas for questions:

  • What is your name?
  • Where do you know X from?
  • What is the thing you most value about X?
  • What is the most connecting memory that you have with X?
  • What is something that X is really good at?
  • What do you wish for X for their future?

Empowering Songs

Each person is asked to either perfom or play a record of a song that is empowering to them.

It is important here to keep the option of just playing a record because not everybody is comfortable in using their voice in the same way.

After each presentation the performer can talk about their song / about their record and their relationship to it if they like. And if they want the audience can ask questions about it.

If you are aiming for a performance, these songs can become elements of the show.

Forum Theatre

In a group of three or four people everybody shares a moment where they have faced oppression (if they like). It should be a story that you are willing to be performed and changed in play.

The group decides on one story that they will work on. The criteria is resonance – which story resonates most among the group members.

The group stages the scene.

The group performs the scene to an audience.

Any member of the audience who has an idea that might help the protagonist deal with the oppression can take the protagonist’s position and try if their idea works.

Afterwards all the people in the audience and on stage can reflect on how this change to the scene might was helpful or not so much.

Then the next idea can be performed.

It is not about finding final solutions but about broadening our horizon.

If the scene is about structural discrimination it might be important to ask the protagonist whom they want to give their role to. Maybe BPOC only want to be replaced by other BPOC. Maybe then a white person can intervene as an ally and just be in the scene as well.

Elements in Dance

In this exercise the group may dance and in doing so embody one of the four elements fire, water, earth and air. The aim is to find the power the different elements give them.

Chose different kinds of music that suit each element.

It can help to give examples of the different elements. For example fire can be a candle, a bush fire, a sacred pipe. Water can be a waterfall, a rain drop, a mighty river. Earth can be a tree, strong roots, a stone, clay. Air can be a breese, a steam, a storm.