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Drama as students meet twins

Wednesday, 7th February, 2018 5:23pm

Cork teens will collaborate with students from its twin city Coventry for a new drama exchange aimed at breaking down boundaries between Ireland and the UK.

Students between 16 and 18 from Coláiste Choilm in Ballincollig will be visited by drama students from Coventry’s Blue Coat Church of England School over the coming weeks, where the two groups will be able learn about each other’s culture and explore the countries’ relationships.

Tim Burke, a drama teacher in Choláiste Choilm, said that his own family background inspired him to start the project: “It’s a personal thing really. I have family from Galway who immigrated to England, and was born in the UK myself,” he said.

“So the idea came from the idea of those feeling neither at home in Cork nor in Coventry, and when I found out that the two were twinned I thought it’d be really interesting to use drama to explore that relationship.

The Coventry students’ performance will take place on Tuesday 20 February in Coláiste Choilm. Students of Coláiste Choilm will perform Marina Carr’s ‘By the Bog of Cats’, about a Traveller who becomes a target for prejudiced abuse when she tries to integrate into the settled community in an Offaly village, in the return visit in Coventry on 6 March.

The visiting Coventry students will be acting out ‘Bogland’, based on Seamus Heaney’s poems about the Troubles.

Mr Burke, who began the project in September, said Cork needed to focus more on its relationship with its twinned city. “What’s interesting is how little each group knows about each other, despite their shared history. There’s a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions, and I think by getting to know each other they’ve been able to break down these stereotypes about what the other culture is like.”

Mr Burke says the project is particularly relevant given recent developments including the Irish border issue and Brexit. “The UK has become quite inward looking politically, and I think it’s taken for the kids from Coventry to show that Brexit cannot have an impact on people beyond their world, it’s not a healthy thing. That’s why we’ve deliberately picked plays about boundaries, borders, exploring other cultures.

“So I think the students are learning a lot about these very real issues in a non-political way, by doing this project rather than watching the news.”

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