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March 1, 2023

Healing with Humor: A Physical Workshop on the Power of Play

Event Series: Children in a World of Challenges Workshop Series

Ifrah Mansour touching her head to a figure draped in textiles

This two-part workshop for all ages offered techniques for connecting and caring for children. Building a connection and understanding can be challenging across generations, especially when you are a stranger in a distressing situation or you do not share a language.

In the first part of the workshop, participants drew on tools from clowning, puppetry, mime, and dance to provide a range of techniques to develop trust and empathy across language and age divides. Games, tricks, and activities connect us to our own child-self so that we can better work with others. By entering the world and language of play that children all speak innately, we can better understand and serve them. In the second part of the workshop, participants recognized each body’s unique lived experience and noticed the memories we hold in our bodies- physical, mental, and emotional- and explored ways to offer care and healing for ourselves and others. Drawing on the spirit of play from the first half, participants approached violence and pain with curiosity and humor, using storytelling and artmaking to unearth joy.

This event was co-sponsored by the Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues; Walsh School of Foreign Service; Center for Child and Human Development; Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service; Global Human Development Program; Global Health Institute; and Laboratory on Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University. It is part of the Children in a World of Challenges Workshop series.


Emma Jaster

Emma Jaster

Emma Jaster is associate director for the Laboratory on Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University, where she specializes in physical expression and communication. Her work focuses on the cross-cultural and humanizing potential of performance. She started onstage at age 6 with her father, mime Mark Jaster, studied at the Lecoq school in Paris, and has served as an unofficial cultural ambassador in India, Poland, and Mexico. She works with children and adults of all ages in a range of locations from stages to border crossings and believes in the power of love to make change. 

Ifrah Mansour

Ifrah Mansour

Ifrah Mansour is a Minnesota-based Somali playwright and performer, and a global fellow with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University. Her one-act play, "How to Have Fun in a Civil War," explores war from an idyllic viewpoint of a seven-year-old Somali refugee. She revisits her memories during the 1991 Somali civil war to confront violent history with humor and provide a voice for refugee stories of children. She sees art as the way we can heal the world, creating performances that build empathy and connection within Muslim and greater American communities.