Process Options in Using Theatre Arts for

Cultural and Intercultural Healing



Adapted from recorded and video conversations and engaging with Ernie Cloma (retired) of Philippines Educational Theatre Association (PETA) in Manila, and Tagaytay, Philippines during 2004, 2005& 2016.



In this monograph, the term ’healing’ means ‘to make whole’.

Ernie Cloma engaged in his own Healing work outside of PETA in Counties throughout the East Asia Australasia Region.

This monograph is a work in progress embracing the action research of Ernie Cloma and others throughout the East Asia Oceania Australasia Region. This continues to evolve.

What follows is some process options adapted from Ernie Cloma’s artistry ways when he visited people in the following places:

o   Thai-Burma border areas

o   Mindanao in Southern Philippines

o   Cambodia

o   Vietnam

o   Australia (Australian Indigenous people)

o   Japan

The terms ‘Cultural Healing Artistry’ and ‘Cultural Healing Action’ refer to the same processes.


Intercultural and Cultural Healing Artistry may be used for:

o   Providing healing support for people affected by torture and trauma or affected by man-made or natural disasters

o   Supporting and enriching:

o   Constituting or reconstituting harmonious society following conflict:


§  Psycho-emotional transforming accompanying Social Transforming

§  Moves towards sustainable peace and reconciling

§  Inter-cultural relational mediating contributing to forming and sustain good relations between previously conflicted parties

§  Being well in the world with those previously in Conflict

§  Fostering contexts where evidence based trust may emerge along with the letting go of distrust, grievances, anger, hatred, fear & loathing

§  Evolving inter-culturally fitting healing share community healing  gatherings with healing ceremonies, rituals, performances embracing the artistry of the whole

o   Supporting all forms of wellbeing including:

o   Cultural and intercultural wellbeing

o   Faith and interfaith wellbeing

o   Community and inter-community wellbeing

o   Family, interfamily, and intra-family wellbeing

o   Habitat wellbeing

o   Inter-generational wellbeing

o   Psycho-emotional wellbeing

o   Psychosocial wellbeing

o   Environmental wellbeing

o   Bodymind wellbeing

o   Economic wellbeing

o   Governance wellbeing


Every artistic aspect of a culture (a way of life) may be used for nurturing wellbeing, examples:

o   Play

o   Games

o   Music

o   Play, percussion, and body percussion

o   Dance

o   Drama and spontaneous drama

o   Chanting

o   Clowning

o   Aromas

o   Circus

o   Singing, chanting, toning, humming and vocalizing

o   Adventure challenges

o   Spontaneous choir

o   Theatre and theatre artistry – costumes, scenery, stage and the like

o   Visual art, sculpturing, carving and molding

o   Using commonly found objects as symbols and metaphors

o   Literature

o   Writing and poetry writing

o   Song writing

o   Collectively creating community murals

o   Painting

o   Group dynamics

o   Storytelling

o   Multiple people spontaneously creating and immediately telling stories

Cultural Healing Artistry in general terms involves actively fostering and sustaining cultural and inter-cultural wellbeing. It fosters people extending their own culture as a balance to other cultures that may be, or perceived to be dominant, elitist and oppressive.

As well, Cultural Healing Artistry is a movement for:

o   Increasing capacity to stay present and hear and understand others points of view

o   Intercultural reconciling

o   Enriching intercultural understanding of respective cultural meanings

o   Embracing a wider understand of understanding

It may foster the evolving and enriching of quick response healing teams to act on short notice to support resolving of local community, or wider conflict.


It may provide scope for people to actively engender and promote:

o   Values

o   Language

o   Cultural and inter-cultural reconciling symbols

o   Practices

o   Modes of action

o   Arts

o   Reconciling ceremonies

o   And other aspects of a way of life (culture)

These in turn may facilitate:

o   social emancipating action

o   intercultural healing

o   Cultural justice, as well as

o   Social and environmental wellbeing

Cultural Healing Action may run for less than an houror continue for several hours, days, or even weeks.

People of all ages may become involved in actives guided by contextranging from very gentle to very energetic.

People may begin exploring new ways of being in the world together.


Modes of Being in Engaging with Locals:

o   Being Kind

o   Respecting

o   Attending

o   Nurturing

o   Being Sensitive

o   Sustaining an attuning and engaging mood and energy

o   Respectfully Playful

o   Fitting Expressivity

o   Being Joyful

o   Engendering Fun & Playful Mood & Behaviors

o   Being Infectious


Process Options

Gaining and Sustaining Rapport & Trust

Brief Life Story Exchange to Frame the Context

Framing – Meaning Reframe &Context Reframe

Playfulness & Games

Telling their Stories

Gently shifting between themes according to context of the moment- examples:

Some things that have been important for you

Good Memories that make you happy and glad –

o   when you were young

o   when you were a little older

o   when you were even older

Some things about how you are living now

Some stories people told you that were very interesting to you

Perhaps some drawings, sculpture, and dances that show your stories

Using commonly found materials as play resources

Can a few of you pretend together to bring your story to life – perhaps by moving – and after a time having feelings in showing your story.

After time – perhaps use some words in showing your story

Perhaps have a drum or stick on wood playing in different ways accompanying your story (slow, soft, steady beat, erratic, urgent, one loud surprise noise, very fast – like heart beating fast etc. –to convey feeling accompanying your stories


After a time perhaps engaging in spontaneously evolving play with locals supporting resolving of local presenting issue, examples:


            In Central Australia


Adults leaving young Aboriginal children six years old and younger with mucous running from nose, with mucous covered in flies, with children wiping nose with dust covered hands so nose, lips and face become covered in mud and mucous and flies. Children using very dirty plates for their food.

Resource Available:

Hose and running water

Play Process

o   Creating games and water-play with the children - example: Hose in air and pretending it’s raining – having water fall on your face and rubbing water on your face (thereby cleaning face). Creating context where it is fun for children to wash and bathe themselves regularly

o   After first game – squirting water at children holding dinner plates to stop water hitting their face – so they end up with clean plates to eat food from.