Carnival, originally a pagan festival adopted by the ancient Greeks, was introduced in the Caribbean by Slave traders, and later came to symbolise emancipation. Masquerade, song, dance, and ritual, particularly those performed at night, still hold true to the culture and traditions of the West African people transported to the Americas and are imbued with social and political commentary. The word Canboulay has its roots in the agricultural practice when enslaved people were processed to plantations to burn the canes. Today, Canboulay marks the opening of Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago. Notting Hill Carnival in Britain has now come to symbolise the meeting of many diverse communities from around the world.
This year's Conference from the British Association of Dramatherapists is an invitation for us to meet with the themes that pandemic and Black Lives Matter have spotlighted as inherent systemic structural failures that continue to disable, exclude, oppress, punish, and assume power over Black and other culturally diverse people in Britain and around the world. The theme proposes that those of us working within these systems may paradoxically be sustaining them, as well as for some, falling victim to them and or meeting with them on behalf of our clients.
How might Dramatherapy put out the fire of persistent racist systems within our training institutions and workplaces? What can we learn from Dramatherapists and trainee Dramatherapists with this precise lived experience? How can we unlearn these systems and structures for ourselves and our clients? How might Dramatherapists work with other institutions such as the NHS and Universities to support meaningful change in addressing institutional racism? How might we celebrate the ability of Dramatherapists, as artists and clinicians, and theatre to manifest a more inclusive practice of Dramatherapy. How can we ensure the practice of Dramatherapy respects and honours the traditions and experiences of all cultures beyond the Western model of psychotherapy?