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Digital Drama Workshops - First Meeting [CHT]
5th-10th November 2021, Baden, Austria

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This trip serves as a part of the larger, two year Key Action 2 'Digital Drama Workshops' Project. Read more about the project on it's dedicated page.

In November 2021, a small group of Crooked House Theatre Company members travelled to the town of Baden, Austria as part of the Digital Drama Workshops project. An Erasmus+ Key Action 2 funded project, Digital Drama Workshops is Crooked House led, and aims to offer theatre makers skills and materials to conduct their work online during times when they cannot meet. The project will ultimately consist of 40 drama workshops, 10 videos and a book, all freely accessible online. 

Crooked House, alongside hosts BeyondBuhne of Baden, Pirineus Creatius of Spain and Rogaland Teatre of Norway met in Baden to help make these resources happen. Over a 5 day seminar in the beautiful spa town, the companies worked to establish how these materials would be produced, standardised and released. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first time the project's companies were able to meet since the project was initially conceived in 2020. Therefore the week was also an opportunity for those working in the project to meet each other and establish support.

From Crooked House, Alec Delaney, Cormac Dowdall and Charlie Hughes-Farrell went as part of the filmmaking team responsible for some of the project's 10 videos. They were accompanied by Peter Hussey who helped with the written elements of the project.

During the week a trailer for the project was devised, recorded and edited. It will be shared soon.

Check out the official Digital Drama Workshop Facebook Page here.

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'Ragaire' Project Festival [CHT]
24th-31st October 2021, Dublin City, Ireland

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The Ragaire Festival was the culmination of the two year Key Action 2 'Ragaire' Project. Read more about the project on it's dedicated page.

For a week in October 2021, ensembles from Crooked House, BeyondBuhne of Austria, On&Off Teatro of Spain and Kinitiras of Greece met in Ireland as part of the Ragaire Project.

Ragaireacht  (pronounced rag-ar-oct) is an Irish word for late-night wandering, or for sitting up talking long into the early hours. And a ragaire is someone who enjoys precisely that. For us this word suggests what we do, travelling and talking, 

staying up late trying to solve our own and the world’s problems, enjoying the company of others, all the while using performance to help us.

The Ragaire project was spearheaded by Crooked House. It was an Erasmus+ funded long-term Key Action 2 project. Most noticeably, the Ragaire project was a Transnational Youth Initiative, or TYI. In other words, this means the project was primarily organised and led by its participants, with traditional facilitators and 'coaches' only providing assistance and advice. 

In the run up to the festival, each participating country consisted of an ensemble of experienced actors aged generally between 18-25. Each ensemble was tasked with producing a self-devised work which spoke of some social issue which the ensembles wishes to tackle or comment on. This is because the Ragaire project was about producing theatre which aims to promote or trigger social change and is tehrefore shown to policy makers or those who can influence change in society, such as politicians, local representatives, councillors etc. 

Being a Transnational Youth Initiative, the devising of these works was primarily led by the ensembles themselves, with minimal input from directors. The only exception to this is, of course when help was needed, but also a cultural exchange element of the project where leaders of each ensemble visited a different ensemble to share with them fresh perspectives and skills. 

The politically-aware themes of the work produced included colonialism, excessive societal pressure on youth, mental health, violence and brutality from those in power and climate change. 

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The Ragaire Festival brought the ensembles together for a week, staying in a hostel in the heart of Dublin's city centre. During this week, they visited our Liffey Studio in Newbridge where workshops were held. They also spent their time in Newbridge rehearsing their plays at the Patrician Secondary School. 

For the rest of the week the ensembles rehearsed at the historic Smock Alley Theatre on the banks of the River Liffey, before performing their plays over a weekend festival at the theatre.

During the week the ensembles also got to participate in cultural activities, such as eating together at some of Dublin's most recognisable restaurants, guided tours through it's museums as well as a walking tour through the city.

As part of the TYI, the events and timetable of the Festival were chiefly organised by members of Kildare Youth Theatre's Senior Ensemble.

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Ragaire Festival

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Ragaire Festival
Ragaire Festival

BeyondBuhne Performance

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The Ragaire Festival was funded by Erasmus+ through Léargas' support. With thanks to the Patrician Secondary School, Generator Hostel Smithfield, Briqo Catering, and the Smock Alley Theatre.

If You're Seeing This [CHT]
26th October 2021, Online

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Crooked House Theatre Company was commissioned by Maynooth University's Department of Education to make a 20 minute piece about the impact of trauma on young people in school settings.

 

It was for an online conference featuring the renowned physician Gabor Maté, which is aimed at teachers and other educational professionals.


The conference, called "Where the Light Enters: Hope and healing through trauma-informed education" focused on identifying the signs, symptoms and causes of trauma in children and young adults through the lens of educators. It was about understanding how children and young adults can experience trauma and how this can manifest in their behaviour, whether it be at home or at school.

Kildare Youth Theatre, under Crooked House Theatre Company was chosen to open the conference with a short, pre-recorded 20 minute drama piece which was shown to all attendees. It was a self-devised piece, and featured the collaboration of our older volunteers with some of our younger members in the Touchstone and Caliban workshops.

 

Called If You're Seeing This, the piece looked at the traumatic experiences of three children and how it impacts their day-to-day living in school. The piece is educational, raises awareness and subscribes to the idea that all behaviour is a sign of communication, whether it be 'good' or 'bad' behaviour.

If You're Seeing This was devised in a two week period, and was viewed by the almost 2000 attendees at the conference. It has since been viewed by another 1500+ people. Watch it below.

"This needs to be shown in schools! Beautifully told"


"So relevant and so so important to tell a story like this. Well done to all involved"


"I wish I had seen this when I was a child - such touching stuff"

"This just shows how it's up to us as the adults to reach out to the children - eye opening"


"So important to get messages out like this - to remind us that there are people to talk to. Thank you"


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Comments from the Conference Zoom Chat

Inspire Training Course [CHT]
5th September- 13th September 2021, Ermoupoli, Island of Syros, Greece 

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The Inspire project was an Erasmus+ funded and Léargas supported training course which took place in Ermoupoli on the Greek island of Syros for a week in September. Featuring the participation of Crooked House members as well as Greeks from both Syros and the mainland, the Inspire training programme was aimed at providing the skills and tools for those who wish to transition from being 'led' to 'leading' in drama workshops. The programme was held at the Akropoditi Dance Centre.

A training course on creative leadership and facilitation, participants explored how to lead drama workshops, how to plan and prepare them, and how to work with teenagers and young people. They had the opportunity to explore physical theatre methods, along with devising theatre methods. This was done through intense and daily collaboration with established Greek and Irish theatre-makers who work with young people.

Crooked House, the lead organiser of the project, spotted the need for a training course like Inspire after our previous 2019 project, Logos. At this project, a community of excellent facilitators and keen-to-learn participants bred a highly educational and beneficial environment which we wanted to further on. 

Due to us being a theatre organisation, leadership is often seen through the facilitation of workshops and dramatic activities. Acquiring knowledge about group dynamics is an integral part of growing up for teenagers and young adults. It enhances our employability as we are able to learn transferable skills in project management, group management, planning and preparation, and non-formal education.

This is where the Inspire project comes in -  designed from the ground up for young artistic leaders and theatre makers who are starting their career in working with teenager . It was for those aged 18 to 35 who already have some experience as performers or theatre-makers, but less experience in directing or leading a group. The training focused on leadership styles; management tasks and responsibilities; effective and ineffective methods of leadership; roles and dynamics within groups; the importance of planning; and establishing new boundaries for relationships - delivered through a procedural learning experience

This learning experience was two-fold. Every morning there were special once-off training workshops for all participants. These two hour sessions explored various group-work situations, theories and dynamics, through a varied array of theatre making and creative styles. 

These workshops included: 

 

  • Physical Comedy: A look at gestures, habits and mannerisms of body language and making them into cartoon and commedia movement. Facilitated by Peter Hussey of Crooked House.
     

  • The Five Rhythms: The Five Rhythms is a renowned physical movement practice. Although performed in many styles, this workshop led by junior facilitators Elliot Nolan and Doug Morrison of Crooked House featured a 2 hour non-verbal dynamic movement piece set to music featuring the five rhythms of Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness. It frequently allows one to enter a new state of mind temporarily, disconnected from society.
     

  • Lazy Body Technique: Lead by professional Greek dancer Ioanna Antonaru this workshop was about letting the body give in to gravity, whilst at the same time not allowing it lose energy. An exploratory dance piece about connecting, or rather disconnecting from the human body.

  • The Dog And The Fence: This workshop led by renowned Greek facilitator Georgina Kakoudaki looks at studying the difference between those who have a voice and the impact on those who don't - all through a personal anecdote with a twist. 

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The second part of this learning experience came in intense daily devising workshops. Unlike the morning workshops, the groups in the these devising sessions were fixed and bound to one facilitating artist. Throughout the week then, this group devised a performance for the final night. 

Like the morning workshops, the aim of these afternoon devising workshops were to learn new skills and techniques to implement into the participant's own facilitation and workshop running.

The work in these workshops also featured a varied mix of styles and theatre making methods. The pieces varied from silent dance pieces to monologue-based reflective pieces. Some themes included one's self during the COVID-19 pandemic, exclusion and exiling, and anxiety about the future. These short pieces, in average length of 15 minutes each were produced in the open air space of the Akropoditi Dance Centre. 

Being an Erasmus+ project, it was also a great opportunity for the two countries to blend together and form a temporary community. Participants ate meals together and, as part of an initiative to become more of a 'leader' than a 'led', evening events were organised and controlled by the participants. Some of these events included a trip to a local Syros art festival, and a photo walk of Ermoupoli as well as a photography workshop. 

"I'm really happy for meeting the people who were a part of this. I found a way to not only express myself but to lead a group with my ideas"
-Greek female, 19

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"These workshops enabled me to reflect on my life experiences and completely changed how I view my life and other people - it was emotionally refreshing and made me learn so much"
-Irish male, 18

"Throughout this project I was out of my safety zone. Through the other participants I was able to change my optics on other people and how to communicate better in workshops. I'm so happy that I took part here.
-Greek male, 23

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A documentary is currently being produced on the Inspire project - check back here and on our Blog to see when it releases!

A number of Irish participants in the Inspire project continued straight from a project in Athens, called Oikos - read more about this project below.

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Oikos Training Course
26th August-4th September 2021, Athens, Greece 

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Oikos - an ancient Greek word referring to one's family, the family's property and the house - was an Erasmus+ funded and Leargás supported training course which took place in the Greek capital of Athens. 

Set in the hilly suburb of Vyronas, Oikos was a training programme for young and emerging theatre artists who are learning how to use theatre as a tool for social change. It brought together 31 young actors aged 18 and over from Kildare Youth Theatre, Kinitiras Theatre and from all across Greece to work together and form a community over 10 days. Through a variety of intense and educational workshops, the two countries worked together to produce new theatre.

(The Original poster for the Oikos project, which was delayed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic)

As aforementioned, Oikos referred to a terminology from Ancient Greece which focused on the intangible value and worth of one's family, the family's property and the house, or 'home'. 

The oikos was the basic unit of society in most Greek city-states. In normal Attic usage the oikos, in the context of families, referred to a line of descent from father to son from generation to generation. Alternatively, as Aristotle used it in his Politics, the term was sometimes used to refer to everybody living in each house. Thus, the head of the oikos, along with his immediate family and his slaves, would all be encompassed.  

 

For the eponymous project, we are took the meaning of Oikos as the Greek word for home, possessions, and what defines the centre of your household. It can come to mean the principles that guide you and make you feel secure. Without Oikos you are adrift.  

The Irish team spent their first day acclimatising to Greece's hot 35 degree weather. Then, over the weekend the Irish and Greek teams were introduced to each other at the festival's host location - the Duncan and Drama Research Centre.

To help the two countries get to know each other, after the introductory opening ceremony, a series of unique and short workshops were held during the opening weekend. 

These workshops included burlesque led by Georgia Zachou of the Delos Drama Shcool, an introduction to traditional Kung Fu by Shaolin Grand Master Konstantinos Koukos, Screen Dance by filmmaker Chrysanthi Badeka and a look at Oedipus Scorched by RADA trained Cypriot director Paris Erotokritou. 

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During the week, Oikos participants assisted Kinitiras Theatre with the Walk With Amal Project. The project was aimed at raising awareness of the European Refugee Crisis - in the form of a 3.5 meter tall puppet called 'Amal' walking through cities west to east from Syria all the way to London.

During the week of the Oikos project, Amal was walking through Athens. Participants joined along in a unique dance routine featuring members of partner company Kinitiras. See the images to the right to see the project in action. 

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After these workshops, the participants were split into four devising groups which persisted throughout the week. Here each group devised a piece based on the project's theme which were performed on the last night. 

The Oikos project aimed to:


 

  • Use theatre exercises to show participants how to ask critically interesting questions about the world around them (outside their oikos) and to form opinions based on what they see or don’t see 

  • Use theatre to turn those opinions into visible performances  

  • Explore ways in which those performances can reach policy-making

This was achieved through these devising workshops. Lead by Irish, Greek, and Cypriot facilitators, the participants learned about methods used by experienced political theatre makers. They then were able to suggest their own ways to present their work, utilising the theme of 'Oikos' to create politically engaged and thought-provoking theatre. 

The aims of the project were also furthered in daily morning reflection sessions and special evening activities. Participants were also given free time to hang out and ate meals together. 

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Walk With Amal

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After the project had concluded, participants got to travel to the famous and historic venue of Epidaurus. The ancient auditorium has seen countless of renowned productions and can seat up to 14000 audience members - it frequently sells out. 

Oikos participants got to watch Oedipus by Maja Zade, a modern retelling of the infamous classical Greek tragedy of the same name, performed by the Austrian group Schaubuhne-Tomas Ostermier. Unfortunately the production ended early due to (extremely rare) rain. See the images to the left to see the venue on the night.

A series of short videos were produced by the participants in the Screen Dance workshop - check them out on our Reading Room Blog post

A documentary is currently being produced on the Oikos project - check back here and on our Blog to see when it releases!

A number of Irish participants in the Oikos project continued straight on to the Inspire project, which took place on the Greek island of Syros - read more about this project above. 

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The Oikos project was a Crooked House Theatre Company project featuring the participation of Kildare Youth Theatre and Kinitiras Theatre. It was kindly funded by Erasmus+ and supported by Léargas. Many thanks to the Duncan Dance Centre who lent their space for the week.

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And Agamemnon Dead  [CHT]
18th July 2021, The Liffey Studio, Newbridge, Co. Kildare | July 29th, The Birmingham Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham, England

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And Agamemnon Dead takes its title from a line in William Butler Yeats' poem 'Leda and the Swan' in which Yeats describes a moment of violence that engenders both glorious civilization and years of catastrophe. A self-devised piece featuring Crooked House and Kildare Youth Theatre's most experienced members, And Agamemnon Dead explores violence, focusing on aggression born from hurt.

The hurt comes from not being able to say, sometimes, affectionate things to our best friends. The play obscurse the simple words (I love you, I like being with you, I will miss you) with noise, physicality, games, fights, rows, and banter. So the piece explores what it would be like to present a scene with all of the ornamentation and obfuscation (sound, movement, dialogue, overlapping dualogues etc) and then gradually strip them away to reveal two sentences that have been there all along.

In addition, the cast wished to explore how difficult it is to get to the 'truth' of a scene. Each attempt by the actors strives to be more 'realistic', more 'truthful' and yet ends up being unsatisfactory.

The play 'repeats' sevenfold. There are seven attempts to speak the truth - in most of them the subtext keeps breaking through. The company, in the making of this piece, was influenced by Samuel Beckett's increasingly sparse and pure forms of theatre; by Crystal Pitte's stunning explorations of sound and choreography; and by Caryl Churchill's experimentation with form.


And Agamemnon Dead was devised by Doug Morrison, Seán Dowse, Louis Javaherian and European Solidarity Corps volunteer Marco Mazza. It was directed by Peter Hussey. The entire play  was self-devised in two weeks.

It was performed to a limited audience in our Liffey Studio in Newbridge, before being brought to the prestigious Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham as part of the For/With/By Festival (see below).

For/With/By Festival 2021  
26th-30th July 2021, Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham, England

For/With/By is an annual festival of European youth theatres hosted in the prestigious Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham's city centre. Crooked House Theatre Company was invited to participate in the festival and so they brought their production of And Agamemnon Dead with them. 

The 2021 For/With/By festival brought together youth theatres from Ireland, the UK, Spain, Sweden, and Bosnia and Herzegovina for a week of performances and workshops.

For five days the youth tehatres were able to work and watch together together - all under the Old Rep's roof. Each day consistsed of two workshops, all lead by faciliators from the particpating companies and on such themes as character dveleopment, stage makeup and ensmeble work to name a few, followed by a performance in the evening. Each evening was a performance from one of the particiapting companies. Participants also ate meals together.

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Uniquely, participants also had 'talkback' sessions were they were given the opportunity each afternoon to discuss, critique and ask questions about the performance they had watched the night before.And Agamemnon Dead was performed on the project's penultimate night and was viewed by all participants of the For/With/By festival as well as a limited public audience. It was also live streamed on the For/With/By Facebook page.

Scroll through some pictures taken of the Birmingham performance of And Agamemnon Dead