Acting Out 100! is the name given to an Erasmus+ funded collaborative project bringing together a Limerick and Finnish Theatre company.
15 members from the County Limerick Youth Theatre and 15 members of the Finnish Youth Theatre company, Loimann teatteri, came together to work on their respective components, producing two pieces of theatre about Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising and Finland’s 1917 Independence. The theatre pieces focused on the independence of the two countries, which is especially relevant now as the centaury independence celebrations of both countries occur in 2016 and 2017.
The County Limerick Youth Theatre started working on the themes of 1916 in January. The members used the ‘Rescue at Knocklong’ as a starting point to devise the piece of theatre. Acting Out 100! features a cast of over 20 characters, and is a participative arts piece, with the local community invited to assist the cast in re-creating a village community in 1919.
The Irish theatre piece was first performed from 13th to the 15th May, in Knocklong Co. Limerick, as part of Limerick’s European Capital of Culture 2020 bid. County Limerick Youth Theatre and the Finnish youth theatre both performed their productions for the visiting delegation in Brussels in June of this year.
This project gave both theatre groups a chance to learn more about their country’s own history as well as learn and explore another country’s history. Communicating through the Internet, they discussed the various themes this project raised about the two countries’ historic pasts. The young Limerick and Finnish people involved in the project also got the chance to meet and work closely with other teenagers from different cultures in a creative environment, which was a unique opportunity in itself.
Founded in 1996, the County Limerick Youth Theatre was established by Limerick County Council Arts Office, an ensemble for young people who are interested in drama and theatre. The County Limerick Youth Theatre is a mixed gender, non-profit organisation which is run by a voluntary committee. The County Limerick Youth Theatre Art’s Facilitator Fiona Quinn facilitates workshops and directs productions. In the past 20 years the County Limerick Youth Theatre has grown from four members to four groups of membership.
Members range in ages from 7 year olds to 18+ and are divided into groups. 7-12 year olds form the DynaLyts, 13-18 year olds form the Co Lyt and 18+ are The Leading Lyts. The County Limerick Youth Theatre also runs an outreach programme, working with Limerick schools and community groups. The County Limerick Youth Theatre is also a member of The National Association of Youth Drama in Ireland. NAYD, established in 1980, supports the development of youth theatre in Ireland.
This trans-national project isn’t the first time the County Limerick Youth Theatre has become involved with the Finnish Loimaa teatteri youth theatre group. In 2011 they participated in a Finnish exchange, where 20 members of the group came over to Ireland and then in 2012 23 of the County Limerick Youth Theatre members travelled over to Finland.
In 2013 the youth theatre groups had two exchanges where together they devised and performed a play in primary schools in Ireland. Then together they adapted the play for Finnish audiences and all travelled to Finland to perform the play there for secondary schools.
The aim of the project was to tackle the stereotypes associated with today’s youth. The County Limerick Youth Theatre believe that these kind of trans-national projects are important because by interacting with another culturally different youth theatre group it increases the participants’ awareness of identity and citizenship.
The aim of the transnational projects is to increase the participants’ self-esteem and bring them to the point where they see themselves as agents of social change in a European context. The pieces of theatre the two youth theatre groups create together also portray young people in a positive light and show the challenges that they face.
The County Limerick Youth Theatre also believes that these projects are important because they help its participants to see and explore how two different cultures of teenagers react to and deal with current issues relating to young people. As well as Finland the youth theatre has also worked with other European partners in Austria, Lithuania, Spain, Bulgaria, France, Denmark and Slovakia.
Article by: Sarah Talty
Read more from The Limerick Magazine here.