IREX Europe Work With The Sens Interdits Theatre Festival and Their "Youth Reporters"

Sens Interdits is a local theatre festival in Lyon, promoting theatre troupes from around the world. The Director of the Sens Interdits Theatre Festival, Patrick Penot is an IREX Europe board member, and this year we’re joining the festival, working with young students who are being recruited to report on the Festival that will be held in November as “Youth Reporters”. The idea is to introduce young students from diverse backgrounds to the world of journalism by familiarising them with journalist ethics and by participating in practical reporting exercises, while also of course increasing the reach and impact of the Festival itself.

Sens Interdits is an international theatre festival that aims to bring theatre and culture from around the world to France. Our activity involved introducing the students to international development and the role of the media and civil society in different parts of the world. We first explained some of the work we at IREX Europe do in different countries. For example we talked about the Media Freedom Support Project in the Eurasian region and Media literacy in Moldova. We also looked at how the media and journalists can be extremely dangerous and spoke of the need for media literacy. Chilling examples of the role of the media and journalists in aiding and abetting human rights violations, fostering war and inter-ethnic hatred such as the Rwanda Genocide, the Balkan wars and the current Russia-Ukraine crisis were cited.

The students then performed role-plays designed to act out situations where journalists act in unethical ways to extract information. One of the characters that we gave to the students is that of a British journalist sent out to Africa to interview a group of victims of a recent genocide in Rouandi (an imaginary country made up for the role plays) who are working to reunite families and survivors of the genocide. The journalist’s Editor wants the article to show the desperation of the people, left destitute and hopeless: the “typical African image”. The journalist however is interviewing individuals who’ve formed their own support group and are working hard to help their fellow victims.

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Sens Interdits Festival

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