This short documentary illustrates one of the outcomes from the Northern Ireland strand of Creative Interruptions. Entitled ‘Connecting Civil Rights’, this strand of our project was founded on co-production methods in drama workshops, which were conducted over 2017 and 2018 with a range of community groups affected by civil rights issues in the north of Ireland today.

These groups, drawn from campaigning organisations seeking asylum-seeker, abortion, socio-economic and LGBTQ rights, culminated in a play, We’ll Walk Hand in Hand, which toured across Northern Ireland in 2018 and was followed up by a range of community-outreach activities. One of these activities—our Schools Outreach initiative—used scenes from the original play, along with community theatre techniques pioneered by the famous dramatist and campaigner Augusto Boal, to facilitate critical thinking on contemporary rights issues.

The result, documented above, suggests the power of theatre in enabling critical dialogues and debates about controversial issues that don’t always get discussed in schools. We’re planning further follow-on events this year, and are working on an education pack that will help integrate these activities into the GCSE Citizenship and Learning for Life and Work curricula, following consultation with educational authorities and feedback from students and teachers.

This programme of schools activities was part of a collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast academic Dr Michael Pierse and the playwright Martin Lynch’s theatre company, Green Shoot Productions, and facilitated by a range of actors and theatre professionals led by Tom Finlay, who discusses here the process of linking up with schools.

We hope you enjoy the film!