FROM THE FIELD: MEET BOSHRA AL-ATRUSH
Meet Boshra, working with HATD-grantee Yes Theater to provide drama therapy to Palestinian women and youth with PTSD in the West Bank.
Where are you from, and what prompted you to work in a theater?
I’m from the West Bank town of Dura Al-Khalil. I have a master’s degree in modern teaching methods. This led me to work in theater and to employ drama in education. I believe in the role of drama and theater in education and the influence that it can have as a tool for societal change. Drama and theater are ways of self-expression and self-discovery of internal strengths.
Describe the work that you do with Yes Theater.
I am a Drama Trainer. and a drama therapist. I use drama and theatre as an educational tool; Puppets are one of the tools I use. I am a puppeteer and a puppet maker.
What you like most about your work with Yes Theater?
I love my job as a drama instructor. I perform psychological release sessions and drama workshops with women, children, young people, teachers, and psychologists. What I like most about my work is the impact I have on the evolution of individuals’ perception of themselves, their life and how they become positive for themselves and their abilities.
Is there an example of someone you remember from the program that stands out – a young person who was really helped by the program or a story that moved you?
Yes there are many. For example, there was a girl who dropped out of high school. While she initially participated only reluctantly in the drama sessions, she engaged wholeheartedly after several sessions. With the help of drama therapy she decided to go back to school. She also discovered through the sessions that she has the talent of making jewelry and accessories. After discovering this talent, she began promoting them on social media and making extra money for herself.
There are also several mothers in the sessions with disabled children who lack hope or motivation in their lives. Through the sessions, they have become motivated and their level of hope for the future has increased. They can now see futures for their children. They learned skills to cope with the disabilities and have found ways to support their children emotionally. There is a mother who after years decided to go back to school and complete her high school degree. She had not completed school because she married young. The drama sessions helped her find the courage and strength to discuss with her husband the importance of completing her high school degree.
There is a child who was very shy and self-conscious as a result of family circumstances, but during the drama sessions his personality developed remarkably, and he learned how to express his feelings and needs. His quality of life has improved a tremendously.
How do you think a program like Yes Theater can prepare young Palestinians to become community leaders that help build a healthy, strong future for Palestine?
The program develops the abilities of young people and empowers them psychologically and gives them room for expression and helps build resilience. Yes Theater helps young Palestinians to enhance their self-confidence and appreciate themselves and discover their own internal strengths. All these skills help build emotionally healthy and more effective leaders.
Tell us about a funny experience you had while working at Yes Theatre.
I was once acting out a scene where an evil stepmom terrorized her stepchildren. At the end of the scene, one of the young participants in the exercise asked if I was really a stepmom since I had really scared them. The children thought I was telling a real story about myself. I found that to be hilarious; it’s a story I love to tell.
Another time, I was playing a childhood game with teenage girls as part of an exercise. They were having a blast when the school secretary came in and was surprised to see grown women playing this game. The laughter from the secretary made everyone laugh, especially me. We all shared a happy moment together.
How did the COVID pandemic affect you personally and how did it affect your work?
The Corona pandemic has greatly affected my work because of the inability to hold face-to-face meetings with beneficiaries. Drama therapy has a deeper impact if the meetings are face to face. On a personal level during the pandemic, I was unable to work in a normal way during the period of closure, quarantine and the state of emergency. Stopping face to face sessions interrupted the normal way the participants could express their feelings via drama therapy. It was necessary to instead use technology and, even so, we could only provide consultation through social networks. This would only allow me to hear participant stories and exercises that occurred in previous sessions.
Is there anything else you want to share about the Yes Theater, drama therapy or the Palestinian community?
Yes Theater is the only theater in the Hebron governorate, and it offers programs for different parts of society. The goal of the programs is to enable individuals to function in their society. The program is critical because it offers a safe space for psychological release and expression. During the drama therapy sessions ideas and behavior are transformed and developed that are then reflected positively on the way individuals think, feel and act in their everyday lives.