BY JOY OFASIA
LIKE many performers joining the Changes of Change Solomon Islands’ first-ever national theatre group, Susan Galutia is one of the pioneers who made debut as a local actress when it was first established in 2013.
Stages of Change (SOC) is a project that aims to use community theatre as a vehicle for reducing violence against women and increasing women’s participation in civil society and peace-making in the Solomon Islands.
Susan from the Makira and Choiseul province described herself as a passionate actress who wants to raise awareness about gender issues and to engage communities in discussing the causes of violence against women through theatre performance.
“Acting is my passion. I started acting in church when I was very young and being here with the SOC, I now act out to communities sharing out very important messages about gender violence in the country in which I am proud.
“Being a member of Stage of change, I learned a lot and gained new knowledge, and skills on how to perform on stage and now I have gained confidence in how to capture my audiences,” she said.
The all-women Stages of Change group has formed as part of a two-year theatre workshop project delivered jointly by the Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA) and managed by the British Council and the Conch Theatre Company (NZ).
The key aims of the project were: to establish a sustainable national Women’s Theatre Company with a group of Solomon Islands women, selecting 15 women to take part, who represent a broad cross-section of the nine provinces across more than 900 islands that make up the Solomon Islands archipelago, create a performance work and tour around the main islands in the Solomon Islands in 2014, write radio scripts written by local writers mentored under the project, will be created for broadcast and teach creative training techniques will be used in workshops offered directly to women who are survivors of domestic violence.
The project was highly successful with many performances, workshops and a sustainable Women’s Theatre Company formed to use theatre as a way to reduce violence against women and increasing women’s participation in civil society and peacemaking in the Solomon Islands.
Susan said that within the years since she started with SOC, she learned a lot through the training she attended at different levels.
“I have improved as an actress through my acting skills, and even I received positive compliments from my directors.
“I find out that by advocating and raising awareness in acting, people from the communities, especially from rural areas, get very interested to listen to the awareness because they understand more clearly through theatre which I see is very effective,” she expressed.
Susan recently joined a workshop held for the women in Stages of Change based on Gender Equality and Gender-Based Violence awareness and advocacy in Honiara.
The workshop aims to prepare the members Women’s Theatre Group for their upcoming Gender Equality and Sexual Gender Base Violence (VAWG) Project and the Awareness Tour to eight communities in the Central Islands Province which will be from February to March this year.
She said that the SOC members are very lucky to have gone through this workshop.
“It is like a refresher workshop to equip us with more knowledge before carrying out our awareness on the topics of gender equality and gender-based violence,” she added.
She said that during the workshop one of the main highlights for her was to understand the work of the Family Protection Act (FPA) 2014.
“I think that the FPA is very important because it aims to raise awareness on the importance of ending domestic violence and raise awareness on the Family Protection Act, the law that criminalizes domestic violence in the Solomon Islands,” Susan said.
Susan said that people in the communities and the rural areas need more awareness about the FPA.
“There are lots of people who still do not know about FPA, so more awareness should be carried down to the provincial communities and villages to effectively explain to the people about this Family Protection Act,” she said.
Susan is looking forward to more projects and programs coming up this year to help spread awareness about Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the rural communities in the country.