October 25, 2021

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Mixed Blood Theatre to Host City of Nations Storytelling Studio

Combined Blood Theatre is a staple of Minneapolis’s Cedar-Riverside Community. Powering its red firehouse doors is a stage acknowledged for taking on social troubles with inventive theatrics: in 2016, “DJ Latinidad’s Latino Dance Party” wove an anthology of shorts about family ailment, love, immigration, and police harassment into an immersive nightclub scene. The chairs ended up cleared the audience danced. 

But possibly lesser-acknowledged is Combined Blood’s many years-prolonged work in community wellness, in which they use are living theater as a bridge among wellness care suppliers and community members. In the 90’s, they staged Do No Harm for Regions Hospital, a play about immigrants and refugees applying that hospital’s crisis room as a principal care clinic. Infant Infant, a Motown musical about racial and financial limitations to prenatal care, turned a software for obstetrics in the West metro. And the clearly show has long gone on: Combined Blood has carried out a lot more than 17 community wellness theater initiatives more than the very last three many years. 

This year, a new undertaking is taking heart stage. City of Nations Storytelling Studio, led by community wellness professional Abdurrahman Mahmud, will carry with each other intergenerational circles of East African community members to open up up discussions about wellness care. With the assistance of religion leaders, educators, and Mahmud himself, City of Nations will tackle three intently connected but taboo subject areas: psychological wellness, material abuse, and reproductive schooling. 

Mahmud was qualified as a medical nurse in Ethiopia, and worked in community wellness for the UN, where he specialised in reproductive wellness troubles like HIV, fistula and abortion. He transitioned to human legal rights advocacy, which he ongoing when he came to Minnesota. When Mahmud joined the staff at Combined Blood, he realized to blend his wellness care capabilities with creative approaches, and commenced Undertaking 154 in 2017. 

Undertaking 154 introduced with each other 17 storytelling circles with 325 Somali and Oromo Minneapolitans: in modest teams, contributors shared tales of their experiences with Minnesota’s wellness care program. Mahmud says one of the project’s goals was to educate wellness care suppliers about culturally delicate care, and to deal with persistent wellness disparities. 

“Cedar is property to the greatest East African Community, the Somali and the Ethiopian ethnic teams of Oromo and Amharic,” says Mahmud. “There’s this wellness care disparity that these minority immigrant refugee communities practical experience each working day, when they accessibility the wellness care products and services close to the community or in the city.” 

From the tale circles, Mahmud made 17 video profiles, which turned section of a are living exhibition and accredited Continuing Health-related Training program for wellness care suppliers. But Undertaking 154 experienced designed one issue obvious: three wellness topics—mental wellness, material abuse, and reproductive education—remained taboos. He made City of Nations Storytelling Studio to deal with them. 

“When I’m expressing it is a taboo, it signifies that men and women really feel disgrace, and are not possible to say these factors in community … or like a dad or mum to examine with their youngster,” says Mahmud. “Our goal with City of Nations is to hold supplying a secure room that can carry men and women with each other, so that they can examine these uncomfortable subject areas and ignite some discussions.” 

Mahmud emphasizes that these three wellness troubles are interconnected: he gives the case in point of how a lack of psychological wellness methods and stigma can drive material abuse, or how disgrace about reproductive wellness troubles can result in despair. While Undertaking 154 was freeform, he says, City of Nations Storytelling Studio has an agenda: to alter actions by bringing these troubles “out of the shadows.” Mahmud designs to assemble teams that are a blend of family members, wellness care suppliers, religion leaders and educators, and—with the assistance of translators—facilitate the storytelling circles with that goal in head. He also desires to really encourage contributors to superior advocate for the wellness care products and services they obtain. While the pandemic has slowed City of Nations’ start, they’re checking out virtual possibilities, and prepare to begin in 2021. 

Jack Reuler, Combined Blood’s Inventive Director, says that for a prolonged time, the theatre worked to produce an audience-performance connection with the East African community in Riverside, right before they realized that was the incorrect approach. 

“Then we mentioned, how do we use the crafts of theater, rather than the product or service and theater, to develop a nutritious community and Cedar-Riverside, with wellness becoming defined by employment and schooling and wellness care and basic safety?” says Reuler. “Instead of expressing, ‘Here’s the tale we are telling, how does this have an effect on you?’ We’re expressing ‘We want to be section of your tale.’”

Mahmud says he has now viewed the good impacts of Undertaking 154, and expects City of Nations Storytelling Studio to carry about even a lot more. The tale circles developed have faith in, he says, and introduced contributors with each other by way of both their shared experiences and a have to have to obtain common remedies. They’ve also assisted wellness care suppliers study how to superior serve sufferers from East African communities. 

Reuler affectionately says he’s watched Mahmud remodel from “a male of science to a person of the arts,” and Mahmud agrees. In actuality, Mahmud says, the creative and cultural elements of the tale circles have been the crux of their results. 

“Storytelling is an historical art beloved by the East Africans, which attracted a large amount of community members to participate in the classes and assisted them don’t forget their lifestyle and heritage,” says Mahmud.”Back in Somalia, family members used to come with each other and have ‘Shaah iyo Sheeko’—which signifies storytelling though sipping a sweet tea.”