‘Drama for Change': Creative approaches to promoting social inclusion
Smashing Times Theatre Company is a professional theatre company involved in presenting professional plays and engaging in community education with adults and youth across the island of Ireland. We have extensive experience working on projects that are run cross-border and cross-community using performance and workshops to promote peace and reconciliation. As part of these projects we have developed interactive drama workshop models that promote exploration of issues of identity, diversity and equality, and workshops that promote anti-racism, anti-sectarianism and human rights.
We have previously been involved in European projects both as co-ordinators of small Grundtvig Learning Partnerships and partners in larger Integra Multilateral projects. We felt we were ready to apply to co-ordinate a larger European project. Taking into account that Europe is now home to a great diversity of people from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, we looked at developing a project that would build on the learning we gained working in Northern Ireland and the border counties. As I write this, I am aware of the current refugee crisis in Europe and realise that the project is very timely. The idea was to build on the skills and experiences we gained working on Peace and Reconciliation projects and to work with a cross-sectoral group of organisations across Europe to submit a project proposal, ‘Drama for Change’. The project involves a training curriculum for adult educators, providing them with the skills necessary to work with adults through a creative medium promoting social inclusion, gender equality and inclusion.
To date we have held three meetings and along with the usual PowerPoint presentations, we explored the curriculum through interactive drama workshops. Initially this type of process was a bit unfamiliar to our partners, but as the meetings have progressed when I say “now let’s get on our feet”, the project partners do not hesitate to push back the tables and form a circle without instruction. In the post-project evaluation meeting, the partners mentioned that the creative methods used are among the key strengths of the project.
Our next project meeting will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria in November 2015. You can join the project Facebook page to keep up to date with our activities.