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Building Neighborhood

The past June 2022, in the Civic Centre Bailarín Vicente Escudero, in spanish city of Valladolid, took place the mise-en-scène of the community theatre project Creando Barrio.

The project was created by La Candela Teatro y Comunidad and have been promoted by the City Council of Valladolid. Furthemore, during the process were put in practice some of the knowledges and new dynamics acquired in the European project PartipART which began the last months of 2021.

The mise-en-scène showed some stories that were created from the common memories of three neighborhoods (Circular, Vadillos and Batallas). The present and future of those places were also topics of reflection. After the performance, at the foyer, the audience could find a map of those three neighborhoods where they had the opportunity to reflect their suggestions in order to improve the neighborhood and its inhabitants’ lives.

Creando Barrio was a pilot communitary-theater project in Valladolid. It allowed other non-formal ways of citizen participation. This fact makes the project original. The participants claim that this experience has helped them in order to create meaningful bonds among them and has let them collaborate in a solidarity and active way for a common aim. On the other hand, the project has raised neighbors’ awareness about their daily issues, made known the neighborhood’s past and increased the people’s interest in other ways of participation.

The first steps of this project took place two years ago, however the first meeting with the neighbors was in January 2022. During this first meeting, people could learn about this initiative. It was successful and attracted the neighbors’ attention. The first sessions started in February and continue all Wednesdays until June. The first sessions were focused on creating a respectful, reliable and comfortable ambience among the participants. 

When their personal bonds had gotten stronger, a field survey of the neighborhood started. Firstly, the participants shared their own experiences and worries about their neighborhood. Secondly, they went to the streets in order to observe in detail their surroundings, taking pictures and interviewing the neighbors. Some of the participants highlighted how the field survey allowed them to know new aspects of their own neighborhood. They also praise how it gave them the necessary time to experience the process slowly.

During the last steps, the participants and La Candela facilitators put on the table all the sensitive material they have collected and created over the past months and prepared the coming mise-en-scène of Creando Barrio. The participants emphasize that this communitary theater has given them independence enough to take their own decisions about the final result. They believe that La Candela gave them the necessary autonomy, giving them a voice and providing them with the proper resources in order to improve their form of expression.

Some months after the premiere, La Candela remarks the transformative impact of Creando Barrio. The participants assur that this whole experience gave them the opportunity of being creators of their own theater production, rediscovering their neighborhoods and becoming aware of the importance of collective memory. The project has helped them to create strong interpersonal bonds with new people and to learn how to know the other in more attentive and supportive ways. They also say it allowed them to know themselves and other realities better.

Although this pilot project has finished, the participants are still thrilled about the fact their friendship is going on. For La Candela Teatro y Comunidad the next step is to bring this project to other neighborhoods. This proposal was recently accepted by the City Council. This will allow more citizens to participate in a different way in their immediate environment and keep creating strong and meaningful neighborhood bonds.