18 months into the project, civic, political and social education (CPSE) teacher Marie O’Higgins and education consultant to the Abbey Sarah Fitzgibbon have been utilising the likes of traditional theatre games and playwriting.
Ms O’Higgins said: “There is no other word for this but profound. These were students best described as reluctant, to say the least. None of them wanted to do the course; one child even got a letter from her mother to get out of it. But Sarah and I could see the potential impact a course like this could have, and we knew that if it worked with these guys, it could work all over the country and, really, the impact on the group has been phenomenal.”
“We are about a five-minutes walk from the Abbey, but none of the students had ever been inside. Only one of them had even been to the theatre.”
The group has now enjoyed five professional performances, two of which were brought to Larkin students by the Abbey.
Marie added: “We cover what the curriculum requires, in terms of key principles. So last year the focus was on rights and structures, and the students had two projects. They had to give a speech about theatre as a right to self-expression, and they had to rewrite the prologue from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of the citizens. Now, to do that they had to learn what their rights were, and what the impact of a denial of rights would be. They had to look at the UN charter, research the structures a citizen can engage with if those rights are taken away, really examine what it means to be part of a community.”
[Photo credit: Dara Mac Donaill]