ARROWSA is affiliated internationally to The Indra Congress. Below is their latest newsletter. ARROWSA is very excited about the intercultural exchange project, 'Checkpoints', that is going to happen between ARROWSA Bechet Indra group and teenagers in Cyprus, Plymouth, UK and Derry/Londonderry, N. Ireland (see the section below on South Africa and Checkpoints).
The 2016 Indra Congress will take place in Bethlehem during the week of the17th July. We are guests of our dear friend Marina Barham of Al Harah Theatre and Dr Hala Yamani of Bethlehem University.
We were due to hold this event in 2015 but felt we had to postpone it due to the uncertain political situation in the region. The ongoing situation is still very volatile and is unpredictable for the foreseeable future. However, we thought it was very important to demonstrate our solidarity with our friends and colleagues in Beit Jala, so the Congress will go ahead.
The Congress, Palestine through the Eyes of Indra, will be an opportunity for practitioners from around the world, in existing and potential Indra Congress centres, to come together and share their practice, ideas and experience, especially in relation to the role of theatre and the arts in settings of protracted conflict. There will be a wide range of workshop activities, training opportunities, sharing of performances/presentations, speakers, discussion groups and social activities. The training will be led by members of Al Harah Theatre and members of the Palestinian Arts Organisations network. Due to the uncertain political situation in the West Bank at this time, the invitation is open only to participants over the age of 18 years.
The practitioner Congress will also include a parallel academic symposium, What’s it got to do with HE? attended by Indra group co-ordinators, academics and practitioners, and generously hosted by the University of Bethlehem. The Symposium will discuss the role of Higher Education institutions in supporting grassroots community arts initiatives in settings of occupation and conflict.
During the week of the Congress we plan to promote a series of small-scale events in each of the Indra hubs around the world, which will focus on raising awareness about Palestine. These events will range from workshops and performances to open meetings: the plan is to explore ways of linking all these activities through digital technology.
The Indra web-site
Indra has a new web-site, which has been designed by our colleagues at Study Hall Education Foundation, Lucknow in India. We are grateful to Urvashi Sahni for hosting this development and for the technical skills of Anand Chitravanshi who has designed and built the site.
The web-site (www.theindracongress.com) sets out Indra’s Mission, provides details about the core Indra groups and wider partners in the network and promotes recent and upcoming events. We are hoping to create a content rich site with regularly updated information and news of activities. We are therefore encouraging participants, partners and wider friends to contribute observations, thoughts and comments to stimulate ongoing discussion and debate. Start contributing NOW!
The University of Plymouth
Indra now has a formal Memorandum of Agreement with the University of Plymouth to work in partnership for mutual benefit. Indra will look to facilitate opportunities for University students and staff to engage with its international network of practitioners, theatres, universities and schools, for placements, teaching or research purposes. The University will provide opportunities for Indra to engage with staff and students and will offer some administrative and infrastructural support. Both parties will promote each other’s activities through their web-sites, newsletters and other channels.
The partnership was launched in the summer of 2015 when the University generously offered us the use of The House theatre space for the whole week, free of charge.
Following the summer Congress, Alix Harris from Plymouth was invited by Mary Lange and ARROWSA to visit Durban and lead a series of physical theatre workshops for Indra participants and students at UKZN (University of KwaZulu-Natal). A party of young people from Durban also visited Plymouth to take part in further shared, applied theatre training.
During the 2015 Congress co-ordinators from South Africa, Cyprus, N.Ireland and Plymouth discussed the idea of an intercultural exchange project, which would lead up to the Bethlehem Congress. The project was initiated by Mary Lange in South Africa, who, reflecting on recent developments in her country, commented: ‘With the raising of racism's ugly head once more in South Africa, intercultural programmes locally and internationally that address negative stereotypes are essential.’
The theme of the project will be Checkpoints and it will ask participants to research, identify, explore, represent and discuss physical, geographical and political checkpoints past and present in their own societies, towns cities and countries, and how they can be challenged and overcome. They will then share their experiences through social media and the web-site
Projects in the pipeline
Bethlehem Indra Congress July 2016
An EU and EU partner country based Youth Mobility project July 2017 Athens (application to Erasmus +).
An Indra UK project building a network of safe, creative spaces for marginalised young people facing growing discrimination and abuse in our towns and cities; challenging the alarming level of bigotry and prejudice emerging across the UK and Europe.
Durban Indra Congress, South Africa 2018.
Bethleham awaits Indra,
with Tim and Dawn
Images: Marina Barham (right) pictured at the 2013 Indra Congress in Derry with participants from Al Harah Theatre’s Indra group with Urvashi Sahni (centre). Young people from Beit Jala, The West Bank, in digital communication with participants at the 2015 Plymouth Congress Members of ARROWSA leading workshops and assemblies at Stoke Damerel School, Plymouth, UK.