24 HOURS SOCIAL EXPERIMENT WITHOUT BOUNDARIES
Strategy type (tool, event, training course, etc.)
Social theatre experiment
Scope of the practice (local, national, international level)
Local and national level
When did it start/end?
November 2016 / March 2017
Name of the organization
City and country
1. Describe your project briefly
24-Hour Social Experiment “Without Boundaries” is a project for social equality which uses the language and methods of the alive theatre. It started by bringing together 2 different group of students -sightless and sighted and work with them over the course of 4 months trying to analyze and solve the problems related to the discrimination of sightless students within the territory of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” and within our country as well. We created workshops, different exercises and mainly we were attempting to penetrate in the world of the darkness. It turned out that for the sighted it was extremely difficult to enter into the world of the sighted. This debate was a psychophysical training and happenings which aims to prepare the participants for the actual Experiment: spending 24 hours in the spaces provided by the Sofia University Theatre-Laboratory “Alma Alter”.
2. What is the aim of the project?
This project aims to build, shape and defend an engaged student’s position regarding the more profound understanding of the problems of others. The project serves like a bridge between the two target groups and will help to establish a more homogeneous social environment. It is well known that sightless people possess abilities that the sighted are not acquainted with; such as determining the size of a man’s body, his age, and emotional stability, for example. Those abilities are often underestimated. Another major focus of the project is the gathering and dissemination of information regarding the social deficiencies of modern living. This is a fundamental and necessary precondition for improving the quality of life.
3. Who was involved in designing process?
The concept, organization, and realization of the project were organized by Theatre-Studio ’’4xc’’ and were conducted mainly by students of different specialties in Sofia University. Direct participation in the project took 30 sightless students, 30 sighted students, 10 actors from the University Theatre “Alma Alter”, 1 sightless coordinator of the Student Council, and 3 lecturers and consultants on various matters regarding the project. Indirectly affected by the project are 25,000 students at Sofia University and the wider community who have accessed information about the experiment through various media channels.The 24-Hour Social Experiment “Without Boundaries” is based on the long experience of Theatre-Laboratory “Alma Alter” with the 24-Hour Non-Stop Theatre Marathon.
4. If you could change something, what would you change?
From the point of view based on nowadays we have the opportunity to create even a larger community from developing such a project again. The main change we could try to apply is to bring the project not only at national but at international level combining students from both groups and so working not only to break the boundaries on social level but also on international which is of great importance today. The contemporary way of living often divides us based on ethnical or national belonging. We could try to change that by using the theatre as a mechanism to get the people closer to each other. We would attempt to make this project more often working with different target groups again trying to break the boundaries and work towards equal human and artistic rights.
5. How do the project impact on civil society?
By implementing the project within Sofia University – the oldest university in Bulgaria – our team achieves a synergy between the innovative theatre practices and the accumulated traditions of tolerance. The project contributes for building a strong student community and their engagement with the current context of living. As effective results we should mention: extending of the disciplinary horizons of tolerance; creation of an active students body which is involved in the problems of the disadvantaged; raising the topic of discrimination and its introduction in a socio-cultural discourse; successful and lasting inclusion of the target groups in the students body; better opportunities for adaptation of sightless students in the dynamic academic environment; raising the public awareness to the problem described; increasing the cultural competences of the participants; building and creation of aesthetic tastes and attitudes.Such kind of experiment is held for the 13th consecutive year and our observations show that the participants in it remain an active civil group which is committed to and aware of the current problems in society. The process of formation of such group became clear after the completion of the Experiment.
6. How do you evaluate the project’s impact?
Art has always served as a means for solving social problems. Theatre – being an alternative reality and most vivid and direct form of art – is the perfect formula for creating direct proximity and cohesion between different social groups. Our long experience in developing a unified space for actors and spectators has once again proved its advantages. We believe that the performance is not only an artistic product, but also a process in which the contextual fields of various participants enter into a complex interaction. The meeting point between people is the point where sharing, understanding, and intimacy take place. What is innovative about the project is exactly this transgression of theatre in order to more effectively solve social and discriminative problems and to achieve a more conscious understanding of the perceptions of others, to promote tolerance and defense of human rights. We apply the concept of systematic/interactive innovation which is based on analysis, practice, and research.
7. Is there anything else would you like to share with us?
Share three different videos about the project: [24 Часа Социален Експеримент "Без граници / 24 Hours Social Experiment "No Border], [Психо-физически тренинг, "Без граници" / Psycho-physical training, "No frontiers"] and [Without Boundaries - with English ]