The Casement Project addresses the queer body of Roger Casement. Through him, we have an opportunity to explore otherness and diversity, with a view to welcoming the stranger in our midst. Alongside Fearghus’ work with the LGBT refugee group Micro-rainbow International in London last year, I was asked to facilitate movement workshops as part of Due Process, an event at Axis Ballymun organised by the brilliant folks at Change of Address. Due Process was a two day programme of workshops, performance and food, bringing together local community groups, asylum seekers and refugees, as well as members of the arts community. The group ranged from very young children to adults, and everyone in between. I taught two movement workshops across the two days, both with an emphasis on sharing, creating, and most importantly having fun. The age diversity of the groups meant really having to throw out the normal dance class rule book, but it was a pleasure to get everybody moving, working and creating together. The fact that more or less everyone was a beginner united the group, with each of these individuals from different backgrounds and histories suddenly on a level playing field. There was a sense of simple joy and a basic equality that was unprovoked and unquestioned. A community was formed, if even momentarily.
Change of Address is a brilliant project. I was really touched by meeting, sharing and eating with the unique group that had been brought together. This is a project that feels like it has potential to make a real difference to both local communities and those who are only just arriving here in Ireland, and I look forward to seeing how The Casement Project can be part of it.
A piece on Change of Address by Maeve Stone:
Change of Address is myself (Maeve Stone), Moira Brady Averill and Oonagh Murphy. We formed the collective last year after several conversations about our work revealed we all felt the need to respond to the refugee crisis. Since then we have been working together to run creative workshops, facilitate public events and engaging people in conversation about the asylum system in Ireland.
We believe the creative process is transnational. It is neural. It is human. It does not depend exclusively on language and can be experienced by anyone, regardless of cultural context or personal history. Art is most potent when new culture meets old, where ideas become adopted, connected and expanded. The global migration happening right now will continue. It is a humanitarian crisis and a moment for personal and artistic response. We see an opportunity in the refugee crisis to begin the conversation between cultures. We want to use art, the process of creative thinking, to bond Irish artists to refugees.
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