YOUNG people from Palestine found themselves centre stage on Sunday when they visited the First Act Youth Theatre at Malvern Terrace in the Waterside.
Members of the Al Harah Theatre Group enjoyed a drama session hosted by David Oddie, co-ordinator of INDRA - International Development for Reconcilation Through the Arts - in Glendermott Parish Hall. The groups came together under the project ‘The Art of Cooling Conflict’.
The Indra Congress, International Development of Reconciliation through the Arts, was formed in November 2011 as a community interest company that seeks to build a global network of artists, educators, young people and others who share a commitment to the development of the arts as a crucial resource for peace building and the non-violent transformation of conflict.
Founder and Co-Ordinator of First Act Youth Theatre, Mary Duddy, said: “Our mission is to use the language of the arts to challenge stereotypes, prejudices, inequalities, promote empathy and help build positive relationships across perceived boundaries and barriers. This will be achieved through a rolling programme of live Congress events, regional, national and international within a framework of ongoing, grassroots activities, training, research and communication.
“The Art of Cooling Conflict is a year-long project in which young people from Londonderry and Palestine will build an in-depth partnership to share their experiences, practice and aspirations in dealing creatively with conflict. The groups met at Edge Hill University in August 2012 to plan the project,” said Mary, continuing: “At this planning and training event they were joined by Indra groups from other centres in the UK. The project seeks to give participants the skills, confidence and understanding to deal effectively and sensitively with conflict in their own lives, learn from each other and play a positive leadership, inspirational role with their peers in their own communities and beyond.”
The first strand will involve the young participants training to apply the innovative ‘Cooling Conflict’ model with young people in their own communities over the year, sharing their experiences virtually through digital technology.
“Cooling Conflict is a creative, democratic approach to conflict and bullying involving whole schools and their communities. The model has been extensively researched and practised in Australia over eight years. Both groups will then meet in Londonderry in July this year as part of the city’s UK City of Culture events.
“This is the most amazing opportunity for the young people in this city to get involved with and meet lots of other students from around the world and share creatively their ideas and aspirations to making each society in context a better place to live in.
We have had the most life changing experiences this week working with the young people from Palestine and learning how difficult things are there for them.
“It has been a pleasure to work alongside Marina Barham from Al Harah theatre in Beit Jala, Palestine and David Oddie the overall Co-ordinator of INDRA and we look forward to hosting them again in July for the World congress at the Millennium Forum from July 1 to 6”.
For more information or to get involved contact Ms Duddy on 07821070042.
The project is funded by the Anna Lynn Foundation.