In the war-torn city of Aleppo, Syria, with airstrikes, suicide bombs and fighting making headlines, an MCC-supported project created a stir of a different sort.

An interactive theatre — part of a peace project supported through a grant from the Canadian government — was planned to give 200 people or so the chance to see dramas about conflict and, through audience conversations, offer their own ideas and solutions.

Instead, some 1,200 people attended the three shows put on through the project in December 2015, success that was especially poignant in a city where government approval has to be given for any public gathering. A TV interview on Syria’s largest national television station spread the message of peace more broadly.

To open and promote dialogue about accepting others, presenters take different roles in stories — for instance, the story of a couple from different backgrounds who want to marry, or a meeting of two religious leaders from different traditions. As the conflict heightens, presenters stop and ask audience members for suggestions, then incorporate those who answer into acting out the solution. Audience members have a chance to share from their own experiences.