An overview of The Playhouse ICAN project (2010-2013) in which ImaginAction has participated developing 5 residencies. ICAN was an innovative venture that drew upon the international connections of The Playhouse with the aim of bringing world-renowned artists to the counties at the interface of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The aim of ICAN was to facilitate the exchange of skills and knowledge between international and local community arts practitioners who use The Arts, in all its form, as the neutral vehicle to bridge barriers between current and formerly conflicted areas world-wide.
In the frigid frost of February 2011, Hector Aristizabal and four international apprentices facilitated a one-month Tools of ImaginAction residency project in Derry, Northern Ireland. For five weeks the five artists gave workshops and masterclasses in Derry and the Greater Shantallow area to the north. The project culminated in a night of forum theatre–three new plays created by and for the community about substance abuse, domestic violence and religious sectarianism. This project also forged a new apprenticeship paradigm for ImaginAction as apprentices worked side-by-side with Hector:
The following autumn, we returned to Northern Ireland–not to Derry, but her sister city Belfast in the west.
Following a similar apprenticeship model, Hector mentored three artists–Allegra Fonda-Bonardi, Uri Noy-Meir and Christine Baniewicz–and as a team, the four worked with a variety of groups in Belfast. At 174 Trust, a youth community reconciliation project, we brought bi-weekly workshops and theatre games. Uri introduced the video camera to the group, and spearheaded our editing efforts to produce the video you see below:
We also worked with the Pathways program from at-risk youth. Working with three groups of teens–Protestant, Catholic, and one mixed group–we introduced the basics of forum theatre, image theatre and improvisation. Uri led participatory photography exercises. Christine gave poetry workshops. At the culmination of our time together, we presented a video of their work: