photo(10)Gifts of Translation is OTYP’s first project across the border in Victoria and will be led by Artistic Directorate member Richie Hallal in 2013/14.

This wonderful project is a storytelling, theatre, dance and cultural sharing project which will develop leadership, capacity and cohesion within the community of African migrants and build understanding, co-operative relationships and social cohesion with the wider community of Swan Hill.

Phase One (November to December, 2013) focused on working with the African Community to unite people and develop leadership so that all participants can approach Phase Two as a harmonious group. Stories, ideas, concepts and passions will be explored, to establish cultural sharing between the diverse cultures of Africa.

Drama workshops will be primarily targeted to the young people of the African community. Using improvisation, thematic explorations of home, culture, history, identity, happiness, challenges etc scenes will be created from discussions based on these themes.

Rich stories will be shared by the elders and they will guide the creative process, and inform the themes explored in the drama workshops. In formal meetings cultural representatives will share an element of their culture, with the objective of finding similarities, understanding differences and celebrating unity.

Cultural dance is an emotional experience; in the moment of dance, the dancer is connecting physically and spiritually to their country, and translating that connection into movement. Elders will teach the community their dances.

Phase Two kicked of in February and will focus on sharing through the creative process and embracing the wider community into what will now be a sacred space.

Including young people from the wider community, drama workshops will build on the material generated in Phase One and create a play telling the stories of this united group. The play will focus on the personal stories of the participants and the culturally significant customs they practice. Young people will use drama, dance, puppets, digital film and song to tell their story.

African elders and artisans will run workshops with participants from the African community and the wider community making important artefacts from the various African countries. Artefacts will include doilies, masks, baskets, beading, woodcarving, musical instruments, etc. A workshop to exchange the many complex hairstyles of the African community will help break down fear associated with differences in appearances. Artefacts created will form an exhibition accompanying the final performance of the young people’s play and create a collection of diverse and beautiful African artefacts belonging to the entire community of Swan Hill.

In Phase Two, dance workshops will be open to the community. Participants from all parts of the community will come together to share the experience of dance and learn dances, which will form the finale of the performance project.

Staged at Harrison Hall the performance event will include traditional food, an art exhibition of weaving, paintings, and cultural artefacts hand made in workshops. Young people will perform their collaborative play, which will explore language sharing with the audience and conclude with a cultural dance that all audience members can participate.

For more information or to get involved please contact Creative Producer Claire Harris on 03 5881 6260 or Artistic Director Richie Hallal on 0414 881 340

This project has been generously funded by the Department of Social Services through their Diversity and Social Inclusion program, the Besen Foundation and the Australia Council, Community Partnerships. We could not do the great work we do without their support.

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