How to start an intercultural and local solidarity project?
Let us introduce to you The Room: Community Drama project that was born out of an idea of intercultural learning. A group of young people from Kildare Youth Theatre gathered to design a series of workshops and invite asylum seekers from Newbridge to take part in them. We recieved support for this project under European Solidarity Sorps programme which is a great initiative to create local actions of solidarity and involve communities.
Our project will last 8 months in total. We spent January and February preparing the ouline of the project, redesigned the idea for the sessions 3 or 4 times and spent numerous hours trying to set the group of people from direct provision who would come to our workshops. The 'official' programme will finish in May, but we really hope the interest in participation will still be there so that we could continue with this workshop!
The process of setting the groups was not easy, but now we are being rewarded by great energy people who have signed up bring to the studio every week! Read more about the process on Léargas blog here.
We have had already two workshops and it was so much fun! We truly believe that drama is a universal language and a great way to learn new things about ourselves and others.
It has already proven to help develop connections as some participants came to see the shows from Connections festival Crooked House hosted at Riverbank in the end of March. We also plan to go all together to see the production of Hamlet on the 1st of May instead of the drama workshop. Can't wait for that!
If you are interested in setting up an intercultural drama group in your local community (and especially involving people from direct provision) we are planning to share with you the exercises we did during the workshops! And you can always get in touch with Crooked House Theatre Company for more information on the project. We'll be delighted to help!
So... here we go! Day 1: Activities!
Our main objectives for this session were to have fun, break the ice between people who don't know each other and introduce drama games as tool for creating something new.
1. We started with a game aimed to remember names. Participants stand in a circle and everybody is invited to say their name. In between the names the group ahs to make a clap all together. It sounds very easy but it's a great way of helping people to listen to others and not hurry up.
2. Adding on top of that, this time participants have to say their name and make a movement. This can be an action or something they like and should start with the same letter as their name. For example: Paul, like 'polishing sunglasses'. Everyone else have to repeat the name and the action. Great to remember the names and break the ice!
3. Now that the group is a bit familiar with names, they have to present each other. Show an example first and present a person on your right, then yourself and then a person on your left. For example: This is Mary, I am Dasha, and this is Muhhammad. Do the round this way. Now, let's put into it some drama! Tell the group you have all just made a show and were great in it, so you are extremely proud of each other! The round goes as before but now there is a lot of emotion in your words. Our group loved this!
4. Now that you've been in a circle for quite a long time, tell the group you will now walk around the room. (We tried to avaid the word space which we usually use during our sessions, as it was confusing for people with no drama experience and low level of English language). Now they look in each others eye, can say hello but in their mothertongue. When everyone has had contact get back to the circle and ask everyone to say hello and which language is that. We had 8 languages in the room for the first workshop!
Continue walking and ask them now to invent a sound, a 'new hello', as we are all from different plantes. We had very silly sounds and it was very funny. Then add to that a movement (anything but waving a hand or shaking hands). Then we all shared it again in a circle.
5. As it's first day and we thought it was important to find out as much as we could about each other we did a game 'Anyone who'. Participants sit in a circle and a person in the middle says a statement. If it applies to someone, they have to find a new place in the circle. The person in the middle wants to sit. so they will go very fast (noone wants to be in high focus of the group during the first day:). We started with something visible, like 'Anyone who is wairing black', then something we wanted to know 'Anyone who likes reading'.
It was also great for English learning. Some words were unknown to some people, so they asked because they wanted to be involved and learned them!
6. Grandma and the musical chairs game! Very nice way to introduce the team building and have fun! Participants sit on the chair spread around the roon with no order. A facilitator is an old granny who wants to sit on an empty chair and the task of the group is not to let this happen. There are three rules though they have to follow: they cannot move the chairs; cannot toch the 'granny'; can't sit back on the chair they have just stood up from. Epic music can play on the background and the team collaborates. We managed to not let 'granny' sit for almost a minute. A record form any other workshop where we did this game :)
7. Canoe, elephant and a palm tree: the game is very phisical and visual so we sould probably best film it with some of our groups. Ooor.. if you know this is the title, what would your game be about? Share it with us!
Soo, this was the first workshop we did with the group and it was a great 'starter' of the programme.
We will share more stories with you along the way! Cheers and solidarity!
The Room team