The fourth meeting of our project was held in Galway, Ireland at Fíbín Theatre from March 02 – 03,2023 to which all Community Theatre (CT) directors plus the Artistic Directors (AD) were present. In three days, the whole group exchanged in two different meetings not only their knowledge and expertise, but grew once more together as community.
The first day was all about getting to know each other. In several rounds of speed dating, everyone got the chance to get an insight view of the lives of the others and the 8 CT directors introduced their work, working methods and particularities of each theatre to everyone. This was very interesting as all CT Directors have different ways of working and backgrounds for working with minority communities.
In between a local TV Station was present and did several interviews concerning phōnē and the aims of such a project.
During the lunch break, we had the chance to be shown around by a very experienced Irish city guide who took us through the history and urban features of Galway.
The second day – we split the groups. The CT Directors spent their whole day in a workshop with Andrew Siddall (community theatre maker and professor at London Metropolitan University) and Richard Hurford ((playwright and community theatre maker from Sheffield) on the wide field of Community Work in general and concrete.
The starting point of the workshop was the idea to become a community. Questions like: How do you become a community? were followed by getting-to-know-you moments. We worked with the text “Riders to the Sea” by J. M. Synge. Initially in a large group and then in three smaller groups. The thematically very strong text, which deals with the lost sailors, was our basis for the content. In these smaller groups we worked with different forms of expression. As it is a text written in a very naturalistic way, we refined and approached it through sound, language and movement. We shared the results with each other and expanded them again and again through subsequent conversations. In the late afternoon the status of the work was presented to the Artistic Directors.
The whole group used a Padlet as a tool to safe and discuss interim results, pictures and texts – to have a good overview of the working process. Amongst other things, there are photos of lots of multilingual “messages in bottles to unknown community theatre director castaways” we created.
At the same time all the artistic directors met to discuss the urgency of a growing network of RML Theatres in Europe and in the world. There was also enough time to flesh out the next meeting – the conference in Bautzen (Germany) in June 2023 – with a specific agenda. We had a lot of intense and productive debates that showed once more how important real-life meetings are and as well the urgency of a project like phōnē.
On the last day the CT Directors evaluated their participative workshop. As they all came to this meeting with very different expectations based on various professional backgrounds, it was initially an irritating and very new experience for some to open up in this workshop and to get involved. In the end, however, everyone found it a very enriching experience to overcame the distances between another. Choosing a partner for the artistic residency was not difficult after these days.
On the last afternoon we went to a nature stroll to Fíbín Office which is located out of town in the countryside at the sea. The famous Irish archeologist Michael Gibbons gave as a talk about the area and Connemara history (see as well here)
Furthermore we got a short introduction to the traditional Irish form of singing of “Sean Nós” and were able to listen to Dónal Ó Braonáin who performed several songs for us. You can listen to one song here www.rml-voices.eu