Tag: theater

Building Bridges

Building Bridges is a project which focuses on storytelling through the use of outdoor theatre, crafts and puppetry. This project is run by Creating Ground CIC, a non-profit organisation founded by Laura Marziale in 2016. This organisation promotes cross-cultural awareness through educational programs and collaborative arts. In this project, the participants are groups of asylum seekers, refugees and migrant women, who work alongside the moderators. Throughout the first half of their process, they explore the themes of “home” and “journey” and they develop their drama and puppetry skills. These activities take place over the course of 16 weeks, in collaboration with Theatre Témoin. As a result, the participants have enough material to structure their final performance. The participants discuss the mediums of their storytelling before each session through the guidance of the moderators – all discussions are recorded. Through these discussions it is key to tackle the type of story they want to tell, what kind of character they want to tell it through and what “home” represents for everyone. The by-product, in this case, was a puppet named Nja, who represented a citizen of the world through the physical attributes they chose for her – such as jewellery, a head wrap and also make up. The outcome of the participants’ work was showcased at the Greenwich Family Arts Festival in June 2019.

The Last Country – Migration, Gender, and Inclusion in Durban

The Last Country is an immersive 50-minute theatrical production. The script was created using 30 oral histories collected by migrant women fieldworkers in the city of Durban, South Africa. The oral histories consist of 10 stories from women requesting asylum seekers permits, 10 from women who have obtained various kinds of entry visas, and 10 stories from South African women who have come from surrounding rural areas to live one of the “hostels” in the city centre. Sitting in a circle with the actors the audience intimately listens to experiences of leaving home and arriving in Durban, where the women find various strategies in which to make the city a place something like home. The script carefully weaves together experiences of struggle, pain, humour, hope and resilience in ways that explore the complexities, commonalities and differences of migrant women in the city. The play was performed around the city for both city officials and at public venues. The Last Country is part of a broader research and advocacy project, funded by the Cities Alliance, titled Migration and the Inclusive City. This project is a collaborative partnership between two civil society organisations, the Democracy Development Program and the African Solidarity Network, and the Urban Futures Centre at the Durban University of Technology. The research produced creative public engagement outputs, such as The Last Country, as well as a strategic research reportfor the city on inclusion, gender and migration in Durban.

Researchers: Kira Erwin (Durban University of Technology), Nomkhosi Gama (Durban University of Technology), Jeremy Grest (Transformation Journal); Theatre practitioners: Mpume Mthombeni and Neil Coppen; Partners: Democracy Development Program and the African Solidarity Network

Artists at Risk

Artists at Risk is a platform offering Safe Haven Residencies to artists, curators, and critics who are persecuted and threatened for political reasons. The platform provides art practitioners safe exit and travel from their countries of origin into the residencies, as well as legal assistance. AR develops cooperation-programmes with artist-in-residency centres, art/film/theatre unions, cities and human-rights networks which help provide artists at risk a safe place of temporary relocation. The platform was initiated by the curatorial vehicle Perpetuum Mobile who also create and curate events, conferences, and the “AR Pavilion” in Europe and internationally.  

Holot Theater

The Holot Theater is a theatre group of asylum seekers and Israelis who came together in order to present the many problems caused by the policies regarding refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. Inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed, the Holot Theater has been exploring various techniques, exercises, and improvisations in order to address and process asylum seekers’ personal and social problems in Israel. Founded at the Holot Detention Camp in 2015, the theater group provides a democratic framework whereby legal issues can be critically examined and discussed with the audience who is invited to actively imagine the possibility of policy and legal change toward asylum seekers in Israel. During the performance, which is based on the participants’ personal testimonies, the group offers new readings of the Refugee Convention with the intention to inspire public discussion and social transformation.

Atlas of Transitions – New Geographies for a Cross-Cultural Europe (2017-2020)

Atlas of Transitions – New Geographies for a Cross-Cultural Europe is one of the 15 large-scale projects of the 2017 Creative Europe programme (2017-2020). It promotes cross-cultural dialogue between European citizens and newcomers – migrants, refugees, asylum seekers – by bringing local communities closer together through culture and performing arts. The project looks at the potentialities arising from the contemporary migration phenomenon and seeks new ways of experiencing public space and cohabitation through art. Its aim is to counter radicalism and anxiety towards migration within society by developing strategies of co-creation and interaction between citizens and migrants, with the participation of people with diverse cultural backgrounds in traditional as well as non-conventional public spaces such as squares, neighbourhoods, and suburbs. To achieve this result, Atlas of Transitions promotes workshops, creative productions, festivals and academic research, thanks to the collaborations of cultural institutions and universities in seven European countries: Italy, Albania, Belgium, Poland, France, Greece, and Sweden. Together with national and local theatres and associations and artists from Europe and abroad, Atlas of Transitions supports academic research to promote strategies of emancipation and participatory knowledge and practice by involving universities and scholars from its seven partner countries. Researchers’ findings will be disseminated on our website in the Action Research section, where they can be downloaded without restrictions. To boost the practical knowledge that academic research will put together during this three-year project, in the last semester of Atlas of Transitions, a Summer School will host and provide training opportunities for scholars, social workers, and artists who perform in cross-cultural and migration-related contexts. Here, artists’ knowledge and experience will be shared and creative forms of active participation for social cohesion will be practiced together to teach and disseminate their potentialities in daily work and life.

Migrant mothers caring for the future: creative interventions in making new citizens

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK, in 2013-2015, this network brings together academics, practitioners and users to improve our understanding of how migrant mothers bring up their children. When migrant mothers raise children in a new society, they bring with them bedtime stories, nursery rhymes and games from their country of origin, but combine these with those in the new country. Migrant mothers are often seen as guardians of an ethnic tradition, but they are also important in enabling their family members to make a home for themselves in a new country. In this way, mothers bring up future citizens who can relate to the country of residence, the country of their parents and their own neighbourhood. Crucially, through their work of caring for their children and negotiating cultural difference, as well as the social changes involved in migrating, migrant mothers make themselves as citizens. Public debates and policy often present migrant mothers as near the margins or boundaries of the nation they live in; they are seen as recipients of social services, in need of integration. This network brings together contributions of academics, artists, family and migration practitioners. On this website we present some of the key work on these issues through videos of academic presentations, practitioners’ roundtable discussions and migrant mothers’ theatrical enactments. We hope this will be of use to teachers, students, policy makers and practitioners working with migrant families, and all who are interested in these issues.

PI: Umut Erel, The Open University; CIs: Tracey Reynolds, University of Greenwich; Consultant: Erene Kaptani, The Open University

PASAR: Participatory Arts and Social Action Research

Funded by National Centre for Research Methods/ Economic and Social Research Council, UK, this 2015-2016 research project addresses the UK social science community’s need to gain a better understanding of how participatory action research approaches engage marginalized groups in research as co-producers of knowledge. Funded by the National Centre for Research Methods/ Economic and Social Research Council, it combines walking methods and participatory theater to create a space for exploring, sharing and documenting processes of belonging and place-making that are crucial to understanding and enacting citizenship. Participatory Action Research, based on the principles of inclusion, valuing all voices and action-oriented interventions allows for engaging marginalized groups into research as a citizenship practice. The project creates a model for bringing together practitioners and marginalized groups to engage with each other through creative methods and innovates by developing a toolkit for training social researchers in participatory methods, specifically walking stories and theatre.

PI: Umut Erel, The Open University; CIs: Tracey Reynolds, University of Greenwich, Maggie O’Neill, University of York; Research Fellow: Erene Kaptani, The Open University