The North West Peace III Partnership comprising Derry City Council, Strabane District Council and Omagh District Council have developed a Decade of Commemorations programme with three key strands: A travelling exhibition, a musical drama, and a series of workshops were developed as the partnership was keen to deliver something that everyone could take part in.
Travelling Exhibition and Musical Drama
The Travelling Exhibition strand is comprised of 10 panels on the Decade of Commemorations and a musical drama that is touring through various community centres within the three council areas for easy access. Both the exhibition and drama are aimed at people with little or no knowledge of the decade in a way that is easy to read and digest.
A round table format is used, with each invited speaker allocated a table surrounded by a number of chairs (approximately 6-10). Speakers have include talks about the Easter Rising and WWI and about the Ulster Scots Agency and the Loyal Orders.
The speaker runs a session at his/her table lasting approximately 30 minutes, in which they outline the background of their organisation and offer their view on the topic. The set-up is informal with tea and coffee available. Participants can move from table to table at the end of each half hour and are encouraged to go to tables where they might not feel immediately comfortable.
These are aimed at participants with a more academic interest in the topic and bring together a panel of academics and/or amateur historians. Each panel has three members with one leading the topic and offering questions and ideas and the others adding their views. The audience is also invited to participate by sharing knowledge, views and comments.
'Sure, it's all in the past'
A series of three workshops is run in each of the three Council areas. The workshops cover Home Rule, Ulster Covenant, formation of the Irish Volunteers, Trade Union Movement, Dublin Lockout, Suffragettes; Somme, Easter Rising, War of Independence, Irish Civil War, and Partition. A mix of approaches is used including powerpoint, discussion, film, music, drama and activities to enable participants to learn about the history of 100 years ago and to reflect on how it impacts us today.
Young people from the Derry~Londonderry, Omagh and Strabane area took part in the 'Picture It' project, working together over a 4 week period to explore the Decade of Centenaries and what it meant to them. They took part in drama, scriptwriting and comic creation workshops before spending a week together at the Nerve Centre producing a combined film, animation and music piece about the period.
What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?
The workshops were shaped by use of the ethical principles about commemoration. • A range of approaches are used to suit different audiences. The events are well-attended and there has been an emphasis on inter-generational activities.
Use of props such as statement cards to generate discussion (each card has a statement on it, and participants are asked to say whether they feel the statement is about today’s society or about 100 years ago).
Use of props such as propaganda posters for WWI, the Suffragettes etc. and engaging people in discussion about what constitutes propaganda. • Use of drama: the workshops include two actors who role-play historical characters, and this is used as the basis of discussion.
Use of extracts from films and documentaries (the workshops use an episode from Fergal Keane’s History of Ireland). They also look at the power of film, by examining how for example the films Michael Collins, and The Wind That Shakes the Barley can pull audiences in different directions.
Fiona Lafferty, Peace III Project Officer, Derry City Council, email@example.com