I’m writing from the first floor of 11 Musgrave Park Court in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tonight is my last night with Uri Noy-Meir, Allegra Fonda-Bonardi and Hector—tomorrow we disperse to a variety of projects around the world.
Belfast was the first stop on the last European tour of the year for Hector. From here, he travels to Vitoria in the Basque country to give master classes in T.O. techniques. Next stop is Bergen, Norway to give a series of workshops and performances with fellow ImaginAction teammate, Yael Harlap. From Bergen he’ll travel to Rome before heading back to the U.S.
Allegra will accompany Hector to Vitoria before returning to her work in China. She will be working with a local NGO there for another 6 months, bringing theatre techniques to students and educators. Uri is off to Leeds, and then Italy, where he plans to give a variety of T.O. workshops and work with hector in Rome.
After a wee interlude in Derry to assist with a conference at the Playhouse Theater, I travel to Palestine. For three months I will volunteer at The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, assisting Playback practitioner Ben Rivers as we work with youth there.
But before we scatter, we have much to celebrate. The past four weeks in Belfast have been a whirlwind as we introduced ImaginAction’s unique blend of theatre arts to youth in a variety of contexts. We brought stories and games to several groups in the Pathways program, an organization for youth who have been excluded or have disengaged from mainstream education. We also spent two nights a week at the 174 Trust, playing soccer and Complete the Image with a group of 8 to 14-year-old boys. From each of these groups, we edited footage of their improvisations and personal stories into a short film. The films are full of laughter, anecdotes and candid genius. “This is our way of saying we love you,” said Hector to the boys at 174 Trust after we watched the film together. Stay tuned for links to these videos as we complete them!
We’ll also celebrate Hector’s recent recognition as an Otto René Castillo Award winner. The Otto Award is named for the Guatemalan poet and revolutionary Otto Rene Castillo, who was murdered by that country’s military junta in 1968. Established in 1998, the Otto Awards have since honored such accomplished, dedicated and diverse artists and theatre companies as: El Teatro Campesino, The Living Theatre, Laurie Anderson, the Steppenwolf Theatre, Bread and Puppet Theatre, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe. We are so proud of Hector for this well deserved recognition!
On the other side of the world, Diane Lefer taught a guest class about torture and those who try to justify its use at California State University at Fullerton in September. She’s also been invited to offer workshops and a Spanish-language performance in Bolivia with the organization Educar es fiesta, working with families in crisis and children without safe homes (including those who live in the street) in Cochabamba.
After all the celebration, however, ImaginAction still has ambitious goals in the works. We are still fundraising to bring Hector to The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, and after learning about the incredible opportunity for growth through theatre in China, we are dreaming of augmenting Allegra’s work there by bringing Hector to join her. Your support in these endeavors—financially or otherwise—is deeply appreciated. Stay tuned for a Kickstarter project, as well. Uri plans to compile footage and interviews to create a video toolkit of ImaginAction’s methodology. This ambitious project presents a fantastic opportunity to multiply the work and share it with other practitioners, and your support in the upcoming months will make it possible.
From the wet-green land of Ulster, I’m wishing you love and good fortune. All the best,