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August 11, 2022

 

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Czech theater ensemble producing project about children's extremism and radicalization, "Commander"

1.6.2022 8:06
Still from a film that is part of
Still from a film that is part of "Commander", a Czech theatrical production about adolescent extremism. (2022) (PHOTO: https://farminthecave.com/)

Adolescents and children becoming extremists through radicalization is the subject of a new production by the Farm in the Cave (Farma v jeskyni) theater ensemble in the Czech Republic; in addition to live performance, the project also includes a film featuring child actors, an exhibition, and educational activities. "Commander" will premiere on 13 June at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague. 

Last week organizers introduced the show to journalists ahead of its premiere. The project is the work of Viliam Dočolomanský, director of the ensemble Farm in the Cave. 

The ensemble was inspired to produce the show by a media report exposing a group of international neo-Nazis organized online. Its leader turned out to be a 13-year-old boy nicknamed Commander from Estonia. 

Farm in the Cave members realized this subject is not very well known in the Czech Republic and decided to present it to the public through an experiential educational project, Markéta Hrehorová said on behalf of the ensemble on 25 May. "That shocking news report was the impulse for us to start researching how young people reach such extreme views in the online world, why this is happening, and where it may lead," said Dočolomanský. 

The "Commander" project deals with more than just the story of a child leader of radicals, which was merely the initial inspiration for the producers to explore the principles leading to the online polarization and radicalization of adolescents in society today. Farm in the Cave will be drawing attention to what children and young people face in terms of dangers in the environment that are both hidden and neglected online, as well as bringing attention to the consequences this can have for the world. 

The performance consists of an audiovisual screening featuring actors who are children and adult performers of movement theater. The educational part of the project is intended to answer questions that children and their parents may have about this issue and consists of a series of videos and workshops for children. 

Both parts work with dialogue taken from actual chat sessions online of the FKD group of neo-Nazis, which the boy led under his "Commander" profile. During the research that always precedes their artistic work on any subject, the ensemble members focused on the issues around and opportunities for the online prevention of radicalization. 

A number of experts were invited to collaborate on the "Commander" project, such as Barbora Vegrichtová, a Czech expert on extremism and radicalization. She informed the press that individual radicalization takes a long time and is affecting ever-younger children, even eight-year-olds. 

Other experts involved in the project are the Czech psychologist and sociologist Karolína Presová, Czech digital literacy lecturer Michal Kučerák, and an expert and journalist from Norway, Øyvind Strømmen, who was an adviser during the trial of Anders Breivik, the extremist who committed mass murder there in 2011. Dočolomanský's Farm in a Cave ensemble is internationally acclaimed, combining film, live music, physical theater and video in its work and exploring issues that are neglected by society.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Culture, divadlo, Extremism, Politics



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