Project name:

Social Action Exchange

Project description:

The “Social Action Exchange group” (SAE) in MAROM was formed in the framework of an international exchange program about social justice. During 2009-2013 there were three cohorts from New York, Jerusalem, Budapest (each consisting of 12 people) who met regularly for a year to learn about the intersection of Jewish tradition and social justice, and organized one week conferences for each other in Hungary, Israel and the US to show major social justice issues and possible responses. (The project was funded by the JAFI and the UJA Federation)

In this framework young Jewish activists of MAROM started to work on different local social issues and realized social actions inspired by American and Israeli examples.

The field of the local social action projects became the Jewish quarter which currently is a fairly heterogeneous area, with different social tensions.

The central square of the quarter is the Klauzál square – today a playground – used to be a mass grave (“Umschalgplatz”) and a temporary burial site during the ghetto in 1944-45.

The three most important actions of the group were the following:

  1. a)   The “Opinion fence” – a research-based community art project on the Klauzál square

Based on close to interviews 80 which were conducted by the Social Action Exchange group, a public art exhibition was installed in 2013 on the fence around Klauzál square about the everyday conflicts of local people. The viewers (the audience) was invited to contribute to the texts and drawings of the exhibition. The exhibited posters can be accessed at: http://issuu.com/ronaipeter/docs/velemenykerites

  1. b)   Community events on Klauzál square as part of the Quarter6quarter7 Festival of MAROM

b.1. Football cup

b.2. Community art projects:

   – Birds:   We, the children of Klauzál square can talk even in birds’ language”

– Building of the grand Klauzál square “board game”

  1. c)    The Phantom of Klauzál square –  the creation of a theatre group with local Roma youngsters and the creation of a site-specific performance (see this at “The 7th 24-7” project description

9.”Our common spaces” – designing and managing interactive city tours with the leadership of Roma youth“The 7th 24-7”

The project was carried out between 2013-2014 with the support of the Youth in Action Program of the EU.

The social issue that serves as the basis of the project was the following: The Jewish quarter is not only a touristic and entertainment area, but it is also the living space of many families and their children who live under bad circumstances (many of whom are Roma). They remain invisible for the people who visit the place. They are almost entirely ignorant about the Jewish past of their living environment, and they have difficulties in articulating their own social experiences. The program provides an opportunity for them to learn about Jewish heritage of their own neighourhood, which simoultaneoulsy serves as an act of social empowerment for these youngsters.

The project started with a half a year of training and conceptualization together with the volunteers from the Social Action Group (5 people) who have worked as a team (drama pedagogist, graphic design, etc.) In the second phase of the project 15 Roma kids were recruited (between the ages of 7-17) who participate on weekly sessions since February 2014 to create a site-specific theatre play about the story of a 12 year old girl, who used to live during WWII, and died just one day before the liberation of the ghetto in the area

The weekly sessions are two hours long, and each consists of two parts:

  1.         Outdoor part: children need to make videos and photos about the neighborhood how they see it
  2.         Indoor part: this encompasses classic drama pedagogy sessions, built around the techniques of play and role building (e.g.g hot seat technique or “role on the wall” technique)

The theatre play was performed in front od 20 people. After a short introduction by the “two tour guides” the audience broke up into small groups and followed the 6 main characters to different sites within the square. Their paths are sometimes intertwined, but none of the viewers got to know the entire life-story of the “phantom girl”, only one part of it. The ghost of the girl remained on the square because no-one remembered her story, and she can only be redeemed through memory. In the very end of the play, the audience came together and buildt the story as a joint effort. The play is based on a contemporary Roma pop-song about the hardships of war, which will be performed throughout and in the very end of the play by the “actors”.

The Phantom of Klauzal square was supported by the Youth in Action program of the European Union. (logo)

Further information: Kata Horváth horvathkata@hotmail.com (project leader)