“We curated a series of workshops with the leaders of the community centre which looked at the ideas of journey and communal identity. We felt that both of these things had similarities with the people of Birmingham. Birmingham is ethnically diverse, and the four of us each had different stories about how either ourselves, parents, grandparents or ancestors came to Birmingham and as such many people who attended the workshop were not from Beijing but had travelled across China to come seek work or education in the capital. Using maps of China and the world we visualised our journeys and reflected on our roles in society. Secondly, communal identity. It is often the case in the UK that young people are often misrepresented in institutional media leading to negative coverage and an inauthenticity of identity. We learned that this is often also the case with migrant villagers who move to the capital leading to further marginalisation, so in response we used the concepts of our New Light programme and worked with them to produce self portraits in the village, allowing them to seek out their own identity in the site and using specific objects which told their story.”
You can read Arron’s full feedback on their trip to Drama Rainbow on The GAP Arts Project website.
On 23 April 2015, some twenty migrant workers and Facing the Gap project partner The GAP Arts Project as well as its Chinese host Drama Rainbow sat in a traditional Chinese restaurant in suburb Beijing. They kick off the Beijing training by having a meal together, a very traditional way of getting to know each other in a community.
The first part of the four day training was facilitated by three young artists and their mentors from GAP Arts Project at the local community centre Nong Min Zhi Zi (The sons and daughters of agricultural workers). The young artists shared their New Light Project which started in Birmingham, where they went on Birmingham streets photographing portraits of young people and teaching them the technique of photography. The participants were young migrant workers from Ban Jie Ta Cun (some 20 kms from centre Beijing) who take jobs as security personnel, English teacher, IT worker, cook, etc in the day time, and during the evenings they come to the community centre to learn foreign languages, playing guitar, read and meet and talk to others. On April 23-24 they went in the village with British young artist photographing to make portraits that represent the way they see themselves. Nearly 20 participants joined the two day workshop. You can find some of the portraits in the photo gallery.
The second part of Beijing training took place in Drama Rainbow on April 25 and 26. 15 teachers and parents joined other participants at the two day workshop facilitated by Drama Rainbow. An object opened the session with a situation of modern China: a Father left with the Child whose Mom had left them for some reason. The Child holds on to a cardigan of his Mother. Participants deeply engage in the social Sites of the situation by stepping into the shoes of both Child and Father, but also openly discussing the drama devices such as centre and site, and cathecting the object. The workshop ended with practicing the theory of Edward Bond by creating three sites that address the issues of education in contemporary China, particularity the challenge that young people in China are facing.
Some of the projects activities have already been carried out. We had a wonderful seminar between the 5th and the 8th of Februray 2015 in Birmingham hosted by The GAP Arts project. Based on situations offered by the participants coming from the four project countries Chris Cooper led a very exciting and inspiring four days workshop.
The facilitator offered participants the possibility to engage actively and artistically in the three central concepts that were agreed upon previously by the partners. We had four situations from four countries that showed the crisis faced by young people there and the the three concepts – centre, site and cathexis – that come from the work of Edward Bond were used to deepen the understanding of the problem and the dramatic processes that can be used to engage young people in them.
Drama Rainbow hosted the GAP Arts bunch in Beijing in the end of April. The four day training offered to Chinese specialists in arts education was very well received. You can find photos from the training in the gallery.