On Wednesday we met up with Anne Richter who is a director at the Schnawwl theatre in Mannheim. She has studied Theatrescience in Munich and is a juror at the competition for the best youth film award in Baden Wüttemberg.
She was ready to spend one whole afternoon of her precious time with us to show us how prejudice and tensions between cultures are created in a fun way by playing different theatrical sequences.
She divided us in two groups and gave both groups some specific characteristics which the other group did not know. One group was called the Moonies and the other was called Sunnies:
They greet each other by ruffing each other's hair and look deep into each other's eyes.
They show their joy by pulling their ears gently, never by smiling or laughing.
They stand so close to their conversation partner, that they can smell them.
They never point with their hands but with their chins.
They say "Yes" by waving their hand infront of their face.
They say "No" by tapping their fists to their chests
Moonies utter their disapproval by saying a loud "ga-gaa" (stress on the second syllable)
They greet others with a deep bow in 2 meters distance.
They turn their face away from their partner while speaking and never come closer than two meters.
They emphasize in every question the last word with intense sound. Every other stress will sound like verbal slander.
They show joy and amusement by hugging their own body with both ams,- and they are often amused.
They say "No" by throwing their head back and clicking one's tongue.
They say "Yes" by clapping with their hand on their own forehead.
They show their disapproval by freezing into stone.
The aim of this exercise was to clarify the problem of ignorance. The two groups had to interact in their specific mannner. That means for example the Moonies had to point at others with their chin. This created an uneasy feeling within the participants which can be adopted to the situation in real life.
Very often it is the case that people don't understand what citizens from other cultures do. They don't know what their customs mean and why they do things in a different manner. Because of this ignorance they start typecasting the others to their special traits. And this is what prejudice are.
A Jew loves money, a German drinks beer all day and Americans are fat! All these prejudices are created because people don't know much about Americans/Germans/Jews and just notice what they see in the first moment or heard about them from others.
And when two cultures meet they immediately try to fit the counterpart in to a specific mould. This results in an uneasy feeling, reluctance and sometimes even hatred! All that only because you make a hasty judgement over people.
As an individual it is impossible not to have predudices against a group of people or a culture. It is an automatic reflex of oneself which is unstoppable. But on can make an effort to realise when one is having a prdudice and later on reflect on ones own actions to find out if they were driven by prejudice!
The next theatrical sequence was devoted to the obedience of an individual!
All the pupils would stand in a circle and then Anne Richter would tell the group to start walking in circles. Suprisingly all started walking in the clockwise direction! Nobody had said which way to walk but still everyone took the lead of one person. As Anne Richter explained to us:
Human beings have the need to be guided and with this game she demonstrated it to us. History has shown us that this uncontrolled guidance can be misused. For example Hitler! He used the force of his propaganda to give his citizens a feeling of safety and guidance. That guidance led to a constrained dependence which caused strict obedience and following. By channelising the Germans into his system he could do everything he wanted with them. Even kill millions of innocent Jews, handicapped and Romas for no good reason. The reasoning is now unacceptable for us. But being a German resident under Hitlers regime it was understandable because he had everybody under his spell!