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This is a question that plagues many people working in the human rights field. How do we speak to the not-already-converted? The skeptics? Even the haters?

Our Actors for Human Rights model is effective. We know that it has motivated people to get inolved in the issues we present, and it can even change some people’s minds. We know this because people have told us:

“My Dad is asking about become a visitor to a detention centre! So – I think it’s fair to say your performance has certainly made an impact!” (Hertfordshire, March 2016)

“I am more aware and sensitive about how the refugees and immigrants live, the difficulties they meet, how much they have to suffer and be brave.” (Southbank University, September 2015)

“I had spent years telling a certain person about what was going on in our country [with the asylum system], without any success whatsoever. But after attending just one AFHR performance her attitude changed to such an extent that she too is now spreading the word.” (Online response to article in The Guardian, 2010)

Because we generally respond to requests, it can feel like we’re just ‘preaching to the converted’. However, we’ve found that this often isn’t the case (the organisers may be ‘converted’, but the audience can be curious new people, or activists who bring along a friend), but even performing to people who are already aware of the issues can be a great way to re-invigorate them, remind them of why they care and inspire them to get more involved.

But we are still keen to reach groups of people who are not likely to attend a verbatim theatre performance about people who have experienced human rights abuses – even if their friend tried to drag them along! People who perhaps have never considered the background and experience of refugees and asylum seekers, or those experiencing poverty, or who live here without papers. People who don’t see beyond the headlines and media stereotypes.

But how do you find such groups of people? It’s hard to reach out to people who are connected because of what they’re NOT interested in!

This is our current challenge.

We will start by focusing on groups of professionals – connected by what they do in their daily lives but who will have all sorts of varied opinions on and experiences with human rights issues. So nurses, social workers, police, lawyers, teachers, doctors, etc… We will be working with charities and other groups who might already have connections in these sectors and can help us with the relevant contacts and also to frame the work we do in a way they will find interesting.

This will be an ongoing process, and I’ll try to write an update in a few months to let you know how we’re going! In the meantime, if you have any ideas of conferences, events, meetings or organisations that we should be trying to perform at, please get in touch!

Charlotte George
Director, Actors for Human Rights

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