Combating Racism and Xenophobia (2)

Part II of a project using theatre to explore ways in which we can combat racism in our communities.

This section of work brought together 10 young Italians with 13 young Irish people (for the second time) for 15 days (2 travel days included) in Italy to develop work exploring racism and xenophobia in two European cultures. Building upon the work of the first exchange the groups made‘image-documents’ and short scenarios that depicted flash points and common incidents of racism reported in the European media. Particular attention was placed upon the participants’ own communities. They then developed these images into problem-based theatre scenes, and through the expert guidance of their facilitators, they constructed a selection of short dramas that ended in recognisable problems associated with racism. These dramas were shown to secondary school pupils from the Tuscan region and to members of immigrant communities in Florence. They were also be performed for Irish young people in July and August at two youth thetare festivals (over a total of five days, in Newbridge and in Carlow) The methods of groupwork involved were forum theatre, discussion and reflection, and problem-posing exercises.

The groups worked to a set schedule of developmental workshops from 10.30am to 5pm each day. The workshops developed the themes of racism and xenophobia in Europe, and explored the findings and research the group members had prepared beforehand. On some days they were visited by speakers from the Chinese community in Florence and from the Italian Refugee Council. In the second wee the group exclusively developed pieces for performance based on the strongest themes that emerged in connection with racism and the status of refugees in Europe. They choose 4 main areas of exploration: (1) Cultural conflict – to include the cultural differences experienced by refugees, economic migrants and asylum seekers in Europe; (2) Difference (focusing especially on how settled Western communities see and react to the different cultural, social and physical characteristics of new communities; (3) Role of the Media in portraying New Communities; (4) Religious traditions – attending particularly to the perseived diferences between Christianity and Islam. The groups selected these themes as the ones that had the most meaning for them, and they developed four pieces of theatre that explored their understanding of the themes. These pieces were linked by recitation of stories and statistics uncovered during the research conducted by the groups.


Our project had the following aims.

• AIM 1: To gain knowledge of the extent of racism and xenophobia in Europe.
OUTCOME: The participants certainly gained this knowledge, especially thorought their own research before travelling.
• AIM 2: To understand the problems caused by racism and xenophobia
OUTCOME: A deep understanding was achieved. This came about as a result of meeting economic migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland and in Italy. They also learned about political and logistical problems from the representatives of the Italian Refugee Council and from speakers from Amnesty International that we invited along.
• AIM 3: To develop preventative measures for combatting attitudes of racism and xenophobia
OUTCOME: They came up with a number of measures, the chief of which was education and awareness-raising. However, they did not get around to discussing exactly how these measures would be implemented or what shape they would take. This is because the discussions became very involved and people had lots to say on ways of preventing racism (but not specifically on how they might tackle the problem in their own communities). One idea, however, was that when they returned to Ireland they would set up a series of workshops with children from new communities. However, this did not happen as the families in the holding centres were moved to the far side of the country just before the project was to begin.
• AIM 4: To create drama materials (short sketches, role plays and exercises) for use in the classroom as an aid for raising awareness of these problems
OUTCOME: Several of these were developed and tested. Unfortunately there was not time to document or record them efficiently. This might be a main feature of a furture stage in the project. They have been recorded – on a dvd of the final performances – but not edited and collated into working materials.
• AIM 5: To create drama-based activity templates for use is community contexts as an aid to aiuse areness of these problems.
OUTCOME: This didnot happen. We felt it was because the process of making the drama peices took longer than we expected.

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Project overview

Combating Racism and Xenophobia (2) is a project by
Crooked House Theatre Company
taking place
from 2006-06-29 till 2006-07-11
This project relates to:
Action 1.1 (Youth Exchanges)
and is focusing on:
  • Art
  • Democracy/Active citizenship
  • Human rights

Short URL to this project:

http://otlas-project.salto-youth.net/884

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