Theatre tackles young people’s debt problems

In the Netherlands, two in ten students in secondary vocational education are in debt. Often they are scared to ask for help even though they can’t get out of debt on their own. Playback Theatre Group from Amsterdam gives interactive theatre performances to break through the shame about debt and poverty.

On average these secondary school students in debt owe € 3,681 to one or more parties. An amount that’s hard for the average youngster to pay back. And which could increase because of interest rates and penalty charges. So it’s essential that these school students learn to reduce or avoid debt. Through its interactive performances Playback helps young people think up ways to deal with debt.

Resisting temptation

The performances, given in schools, are about spending money, money problems, group pressure, status and wealth. The audience – consisting of students, teachers and parents – are immersed in the lives of the characters. These characters want to buy nice things, buy clothes to impress their friends and feel they belong, but at the same time they want to save money and resist the temptation or try not to give in to it yet. If that doesn’t work, they get into debt. The audience takes part in the performance and the discussion afterwards. For example, they think up a realistic financial plan for the characters.

How Rabobank Foundation helps

Playback was given a donation in 2015 to help it develop three theatre productions through to 2021. The aim is to teach school students how to manage their money. In 2016 Playback‘s educational theatre performed for 2,145 young people and 500 parents. Through to 2021 they want to reach another 26,000 young people and 10,000 parents. Playback often involves the local Rabobank in its performances.