May 25, 2020

A brief history of the Young Men Initiative with THE John

For many years, the Center E8 and the Reflector Theater, as “accomplices” in the fight for a fairer world and society through which the fight is channeled through art, receive CARE’s support for their activities and thus operate not only in Serbia but also regionally and globally.

Therefore, as part of the show “Evening under the Reflector” on 6th May, starting at 9 pm, the actor in the play “Macho Men” Alek Surtov hosted the representative of CARE International, John Crownover. Reflector Theater writes about it like this:  

“This week, we lit up for the first time in faraway America, because the guest of the actor Alek Surtov was John Crownover from the organization CARE, a long-term associate and friend of our theater, as well as a fighter for gender equality. John shared with us his experiences from Serbia, as well as the activism practices he is currently working on, and he also talked about the “Be a Man” project, within which our play “Macho Men” was created.”

In the Instagram live show, which lasted about an hour, Alek and John talked about the performances that were created directly, but also indirectly from the “Be a Man” club and the Young Men Initiative, as well as activism in general through theater and culture. 

Violence on the rise during the quarantine

They also raised an important topic – and that was violence in quarantine. They raised topics about how violence in quarantine and confinement has increased, and how the problem is that some victims are “trapped” with the perpetrator in the apartment. John points out that he thinks that we do not even have an insight into the rate of violence, because cases are not reported to institutions or non-governmental organizations, and that this is another problem. Speaking of violence, John shared with Alek on the show his beginnings and how he came to CARE and started working on this topic: he talked about his journey through projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina that he started in 1995, as well as the moment when he decided to write the program from which the “Be a Man” club actually originated, when he applied to the CARE Foundation and thus began his journey of dealing with social problems in the Balkans such as masculinity, violence, gender equality, etc.

They did not leave out the topic of mental health and psyche during the pandemic and quarantine, so John pointed out that quarantine was problematic for the psyche, because it created uncertainty globally, especially due to insecurity about work and finances. Alek and John also touched on the problems of young people, how unprepared and unready they were in this because they were used to having the freedom and being able to drink coffee in a cafe whenever they wanted. All in all, they strongly say that we should still remain positive.

Despite constantly emphasizing that “Macho Men” is his favorite play, he says that he likes to maintain ties with the Balkans and confides in us that he misses ‘ćevapi’.

The activity was implemented within the project Young Men Initiative II – Men and Boys as Partners in Promoting Gender Equality and Prevention of Youth Extremism and Violence in the Western Balkans, supported by CARE International Balkans, Austrian Development Cooperation and Oak Foundation.

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