Crooked House Theatre Company: Ragaire Project

an international political theatre project for actors aged 19-25 across Europe

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At the end of the page are listed the current stages the project is in, or has gone through.

The Ragaire Project is in it's closing stages, currently undergoing a review and feedback phase. The core Ragaire Festival concluded October 31st 2021.

Read more about the Ragaire Festival on our 2021 archive.


Last updated: 19/11/2021

INTRODUCTION

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. 

Ragaire is a new international project spearheaded by Kildare Youth Theatre, under Crooked House Theatre Company, and lead by our Senior Ensemble, of actors aged 19-25.

It brings together young actors from some of our theatre partners across the continent of Europe. The foundational aims of the project are to:
 
(a) share our working methods with our partners and vice versa,
(b) devise special pieces and share our performances with each other at a festival,
(c) attract politicians and other decision-makers to our work, and
(d) support the work we already do with funding from the Erasmus+ programme.

CONTEXT

Ragaire is inspired partly by the work produced and philosophy established by our Senior Ensemble. The project is inspired by our desire to learn from the ensemble theatre-making practice of Crooked House’s European partners who work with young people. We would also like to share our practice with them.  

The project also arose from our belief that the theatre we make is often only seen by our audience of regular and appreciative supporters, many of whom are drawn from our immediate locality and who are generally our friends, family and colleagues. When, as is mostly the case, we make theatre about socially engaged topics designed to express our wish for social change, or when we make overtly political theatre designed to stimulate justice, those change-makers who have the power to effect political or social change are not often the ones who see the theatre pieces. It is difficult to get politicians, elected representatives, policy makers and people in powerful positions to attend theatre projects made locally by young people. 

Therefore, this project aims to find ways to bring socially engaged youth theatre to change-makers. We will share our methods and ideas about how best to do this.  

WHAT WILL BE DONE

Each of our participating partners created a new ensemble, or furthered working with one that already exists. They then all spent several months making a play about an issue that concerns us. The issue could, for example, be climate change, or migration, or any gender or LGBTQ+ concern. Whatever the issue chosen, it must be one that the ensemble feels is important in their locality. It should be about a change that the group would like to see occur in their area. In addition, the issue we each choose to make a play about should be relevant to a wider audience – not just to a local one. After the first meeting, the themes we discovered included colonialism, societal pressure on youth, mental health, banality, and brutality within society.

However, let's take an example of Alcohol and Violence, which might explore what happens in our locality when young people’s anger is fueled by alcohol. The play would then be relevant at a national level as well as a local one, and indeed at a European level, as many countries are experiencing high levels of youth violence caused by alcohol. So the play might spotlight the problems experienced by the young people in the ensemble. But it would also aim to suggest change, new policies, regulation, or a cultural shift that might alleviate or solve the problem.
 
In this case, the ensemble would like to present their ideas for change to policy makers, or law makers, as well as to their community, in the hope of increasing the pressure for the kind of social change they’d like to see happening. The play itself might not overtly suggest ideas for change. But the discussions with policy makers afterwards would do this.  

We aim to create plays that can be staged where change-makers can see it. This might mean, for example, making short plays that are performed in cars and which can be staged in the car-park of a national parliament. Or making one larger piece than can be staged in the assembly rooms or chambers of a national ministry. It could involve making a play to be staged on the streets or park outside a political establishment. In each case we will learn how to approach policy-makers in order to make it attractive for them to come to see the play.  

We will also learn how best to engage those change-makers in discussion afterwards – perhaps through post-show discussions, a seminar or other means of dialogue. 

HOW ITS BEING DONE

Ragaire uses Erasmus+'s Key Action 2 strand of programming funding to make this project. The particular activity within KA2 is called a Transnational Youth Initiative (TYI).

The central idea behind a TYI is that the young people themselves originate, develop and carry out the project. They can be assisted by a ‘Coach’ or Youth Worker. In this respect, our ensembles are the groups of young people who wish to carry out the project. Our coaches are the artistic leaders, or facilitators, working with each ensemble. In the case of Crooked House and Kildare Youth Theatre, the project is initiated by the Senior Ensemble, a group of 16 young people aged over 18 who meet regularly in Crooked House. Their Coach is Peter Hussey, our Artistic Director.

More can be read about the Transnational Youth Initiative here, or alternatively by watching this video.

PROJECT STAGES

  • Each partner works with their young ensembles to create a new piece of socially engaged theatre (or dance theatre). The young people in the ensemble lead this process, helped considerably by their coach (or director, leader or facilitator).

  • There are Transnational Meetings where some of us gather to discuss and plan the project further at relevant points.

 

  • We have visits from each partner where one coach or theatre-maker goes to one of the partners to lead workshops and masterclasses for a short period of time. 

 

  • Each partner will stage their play locally in their own usual place. Then they will plan to stage it at a national forum, or place where policy-makers can see it. 

 

  • Each partner will devise a way for the policy-makers or some of the elected representatives to talk with the young people after the performance to discuss the theme or concern they raised in the play. 

 

  • Each partner will bring their play to Dublin for a final showcase festival. 

PARTICIPATING THEATRE PARTNERS

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Crooked House Theatre Company (Ireland)

www.crookedhouse.ie

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On&Off Teatro (Spain)

https://www.onoffteatro.com/

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BeyondBühne (Austria)
https://www.beyondbuehne.at/

Ragaire involves over 30 actors aged 18-25, 5 coordinators, and a minimum of 5 leaders.

SUMMARY

During the course of 16 months, 5 partner organisations will create or develop their ensembles and make a theatre piece about a political or social issue they have a strong opinion on, and that they would like their political leaders to hear. These pieces will be performed locally and nationally for policy and decision makers as well as in a festival in Dublin, where national and European representatives will attend. 

 

They will explore various ways to engage policy makers with their performance. They will hear about methods used by experienced political theatre makers. They will suggest their own ways to present their work, in council chambers, at conferences, in parliaments, and in other fields where the audience is composed of influential decision makers. 

CURRENT/COMPLETED STAGES

Activity 1 - Building the ensemble – September to October 2020 (local):

  • The official start of the project was 1st of September 2020. The first task of each of the partners was  to build their ensemble. In most cases, including for Kildare Youth Theatre, the partners already have youth ensembles or young companies with whom they work so the ‘ensemble’ may already exist. 

Trans National Meeting 1 - Kick off meeting - September 2020 (Greece)

  • The 1st transnational meeting was held in Greece in Sept 2020. Due to COVID-19 the meeting was blended. Peter Hussey from Crooked House met with the Greek team in Athens. He then met virtually via Zoom meetings with the Spanish and Austrian teams. A meeting on Zoom will be held with the UK team.  

Activity 2 - Creating The Piece - January 2021 to May 2021 (local)

  • The ensembles, which by now will have been selected, will devise a piece from scratch. They will create it and rehearse it, meeting on a regular basis. This stage has been delayed by COVID-19 restrictions.

Ragaire Festival: Performances of devised pieces to a public audience over a 2 day festival (Ireland)

  • From the 24th-31st October 2021, the four ensembles worked and performed in Ireland as part of the Ragaire Festival. The pieces were shown to policy makers and htose with the potential to inspire change. Participants also took part in workshops and cultural activies during the week. Read more about the Ragaire Festival on our 2021 archive.

CURRENT STAGE: Project Review, Reflections and Feedback (local)

  • The Ragaire project is now in it's final stage. A review of the festival, the process, and most importantly the Transnational Youth Initiative element of the project is currently underway. This is due to be completed approximately by the end of the year.