Life size puppets act out social dramas for teens in the Volga Region.
Tolerance Education for Teenagers

Theater for a Change's Website

In 2004, MiraMed received one of only 10 USAID (United States Agency for International Development) “tolerance grants” for an in-school education project aimed at teens to help reduce inter-ethnic tension and hate crimes against the disabled, orphans, immigrants and people with HIV/AIDS in the Volga Federal District.

Our innovative proposal focused on working with Theatre for a Change, Russia 's first professional touring educational theatre for youth that uses life size puppets as their medium to dramatize contemporary social issues, to develop live, in-school theatre pieces on tolerance. All of the actors are veteran leading performers who have participated in international festivals as members of the acclaimed Gorky Puppet Theatre and include Honored Artist of Russia Larissa Tryanina and Master of Stage Sergey Nuzhin.

Counter-trafficking TV spot featured a teenage mermaid and a trafficking fisherman.
Each performance takes place in actual school class­rooms, not auditoriums with stages. The pre-play activity, actual performance and post-play discus­sion are designed to fit within a standard 60 minute classroom period. To maximize the experience, the class size is limited to no more than 45 students. All productions fea­ture original music, professional costumes, lighting, sound and set design.

The first tolerance play we co-developed with the Theatre is called “The Enemy Within” and features an orphan, a disabled teen, a boy with HIV/AIDS and an Azeri immigrant. The production is designed as a catalyst to stimulate classroom discussion and ongoing exploration with teachers. In
Actress Larisa with Alyona, one of the life sized puppets.
addition to the performance itself, the project includes pre and post production activity – student questionnaire, a well-written color brochure about the social issue being dramatized, a discussion with the actors and a set of additional classroom tolerance education materials that the teacher can do with students in the future.

This year's play, which will tour 2005-6, focuses on HIV/AIDS and immigrants and continues the story of “The Enemy Within”. The Theatre's repertoire also includes “Let's go to Berlin ”, an anti-trafficking play that it created with MiraMed in 2001.

Staff and actors of Theater for a Change.
In addition to the production itself, MiraMed has also created a Volga Advocacy Coalition made up the NGO's who represent the marginalized groups featured in the play.

The first year results have been outstanding--almost 10,000 students have seen the play in the Nizhni Novgorod, Kazan and Saratov school districts; the Coalition has been formed and is actively pursuing its new agenda; teens and NGO's have met with each other and many schools have put together special “Tolerance Days” and other after class activities