One of the groups we worked with on our ‘Connecting Civil Rights’ Creative Interruptions project strand was based in Belfast’s Market area. They were campaigning for housing rights within this newly ‘gentrified’, traditionally working-class area of the city.
The group, which emerged from the Pangúr Bán Cultural Society in the district, were led by professional theatre facilitator and Londoner now living in Belfast, Matt Farris, and by our Creative Interruptions Community Co-Investigator, Fionntán Hargey, who hails from and works in the Market area. Using co-creative drama methodologies, they engaged with Market residents, young and old—some who could remember, and were involved with, the original Northern Irish Civil Rights movement of the late 1960s, some who are agitating for civil rights in the city today—under the theme of ‘The Right to the City’. These residents feel that new commercial developments ongoing and planned for their area have been oriented toward private profit rather than social gain, and they have recently been involved with a campaign against a proposed £55 million office development beside their homes. They argue that these developments are not doing enough to include social housing that can benefit the homeless and those in need of housing in the area.
Our theatre project produced several outputs. The first, a major play, We’ll Walk Hand in Hand, was co-produced with community (non-professional) actors from this Market group, the LGBTQ community, a group of women campaigning for reproductive rights, and refugees and asylum seekers from across Belfast, resulting in a collaboration that toured theatres across Northern Ireland in the Spring of 2018. Some of those who acted in this play, performed in the most prestigious theatre venues in NI, had never even been to a theatre. Further outputs include a performance by our LGBT group about the experiences of LGBT people growing up in NI (performed in Belfast in August 2018); a radio play on abortion rights, recently completed and premiering on International Safe Abortion Day 2018 (www.september28.org/); a live performance, in December 2017, on the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers who have travelled to Ireland; and this final piece, a short film developed as part of our work with the Pangur Bán group. It is entitled, ‘We Must Dissent’.
Thanks and congrats from the Creative Interruptions team to all involved!