THE ANIMALS’ LAWSUIT

An educational workshop for primary school children created by GAWF and hosted by the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre in Athens.

Concentration is written on the faces of the children as they work out what arguments they will use when they represent the animals in court. (GMNH)

The workshop grew out of an earlier project created for the GMNH (Goulandris Museum of Natural History), Athens, in 2009.  Based on an ancient story from the Middle East, the participating children were invited imaginatively to inhabit the experience of animals living on a faraway island as they first encounter and begin to interact with human beings.

Following a storm at sea and the wrecking of their ship, the humans have been quick to use the animals for their own purposes, and the animals feel abused.  They resolve to bring a lawsuit against the humans and take their case to the “Great Djinn” who lives at the top of the mountain.  Using theatrical play, movement, masks, music and storytelling, the children are supported to ‘speak for the animals’, demanding better treatment, thinking up and preparing their arguments, and finally presenting the animals’ case in court.  At the end of it all, the Great Djinn delivers its wise verdict:

Humanity is part of the natural world and must treat living creatures with kindness and respect, living in harmony with all creation.   
Getting into the part at Hellenic Cosmos Museum

The workshop was designed principally to develop concern for the welfare of all animals and foster a sense of responsibility towards them but also to build other educationally valuable skills such as public speaking and working collaboratively.

The Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre offered our workshop to primary schools over multiple academic years from 2013 to 2016 and many teachers in the region of Attica signed their classes up.  Attendance records for 2015 and 2016 show that in those two years alone, more than 1,000 nursery and primary school-age children took part.

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