UPSET 2009-2010: The early days

PROJECT: Prejudice and discrimination prevention – the workshop “Theatre as a place of overcoming stigmatization”

DURATION: 2009-2010

PARTICIPANTS: 50 (42 students + 8 stigmatized guests)

AUTHOR: Ivan Hromatko



LOCATION: University campus Borongaj; Croatian Studies

The program of workshops and the research method (which were later developed into drama-action research and drama-action workshops) were designed in 2008 in the graduate thesis by Ivan Hromatko, prof. soc. et hist. In that year, UPSETwas founded, and next year, with the help and support of lecturer, Prof. Renato Matić, the first workshop were held – as part of the electoral university course “Prejudice and prevention of discrimination”. The program consisted of lectures, workshops and educational visits. Introductory lectures were held before the workshop and students were presented with basic concepts and theoretical basis upon which the method was built. After that, they themselves got the chance to experience acting (which included a visit to the zoo!) and, in turn, gain direct experience with the stigmatized persons in the premises of Croatian studies or while visiting other institutions.

Since the specifics of university classes and time limitations did not allow the implementation of the method in its entirety (creating the space in which it is possible to uphold an alternative world view marked by freedom of roles, critical thinking and intense and goal-oriented interaction), the focus was put on communication between the students and stigmatized people – while those who wished could also participate in a short drama workshops led by Goran Vrbanić.

To make students acquainted with the stigmatized people of all types (as defined by Erving Goffman: those that carry the physical, character or tribal stigma), lectures and workshops, guests were invited during the programme. Thus, the students met people who are deaf or persons who are veterans, and they also met persons who are battling drug addition at the Department of addiction in Clinical Hospital Sisters of Mercy (with the help and cooperation of all department employees and manager Prof. Slavko Sakoman). Through discussion held at these meetings students became aware of certain personal prejudices and the general negative image that society has for the stigmatized groups.

Also, stigmatized persons were given the opportunity to tell their life story, to convey their experience and show students that “those” people are also people. This, enabled them, at least for a short time, get out of the marginalized position in society in which they are typically placed.

A part of the atmosphere can be found at the Mediateca.