Breaking Down the Walls took place in 2016 and was implemented by Smashing Times Theatre and Film Company in partnership with Aspire – Asperger Syndrome Association of Ireland, St Paul’s CBS Secondary School, Henrietta Adult and Community Education Service (HACE), and the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama.
Using the stone wall surrounding Grangegorman as a catalyst, professional artists from Smashing Times worked with participants from three groups – Aspire, St Paul’s CBS and HACE – to explore the ‘walls’ that can surround us and lead to significant challenges both personally and socially, particularly in relation to inclusion. Using a creative workshop process, artists and participants creatively explored how we can go about ‘breaking through the walls that keep us from the unknown, ourselves and each other’ (Viola Spolin, 1906-1994, Theatre Practitioner). The artists involved in the project were Mary Moynihan, Freda Manweiler, EM Creative, and Catherine McFadden.
Artists and participants researched the history, and social and cultural heritage, of Grangegorman, as well as the former St Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital. Two of the groups, St Paul’s Secondary School and Aspire, conducted site visits to Grangegorman to explore the physical wall and the transformation of the space into a new urban quarter for Dublin City. The social and cultural heritage of the previous institutions that occupied Grangegorman is of national significance, and the artists and community participants explored aspects of the site’s past history with reference to the future vision for healthcare as the campus matures over time.
Using creative processes, participants explored the theme of mental health through the history of Grangegorman leading up to our understanding today of positive mental health and what communities can do to promote positive mental health, exploring how we can express ourselves as individuals and reach out to others as members of a wider community. The aim was to explore links between personal happiness, positive mental health and equality. Participants explored suggestions to promote positive mental health from the HSE Little Things Campaign such as accept yourself, do something creative, eat healthily, keep active, make time for family and friends, practice mindfulness and positive thinking and talk about how you feel. www.yourmentalhealth.ie
The project culminated in a cross-community workshop held at the new DIT Grangegorman campus, attended by artists from Smashing Times, members of St Paul’s CBS Secondary School and Aspire and by drama students from the Honours BA in Drama (Performance), DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. This took place on the 12 December, 2016, and used creative processes of theatre to explore themes of equality.
A Breaking Down the Walls Digital Book is now available for free, featuring full project information, highlights, key artists, participant manifestos, images, and mental health resources. Click here to access this book.
Breaking Down the Walls was supported by ‘The Lives we live’ Grangegorman Public Art, St Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Edmund Rice Trust.
What the young people say:
‘I really enjoyed all the workshops… the facilitator was excellent, it was all fun and interesting.’ Paul Doyle, Aspire
‘This whole experience was great and enjoyable.’ Ben Daly McKenna, Aspire
‘Really enjoyed the workshop, I think image theatre exercises are a brilliant way of educating young people on issues of human rights and equality.’ DIT first year student
‘Young people need more training like this on gender equality. I would really like to use theatre to promote human rights.’ Barry O’ Bolin, St Pauls CBS Student
‘If we have more group sessions like this we can lift people’s spirits up.’ Ryan Campbell, St Paul’s CBS Student
‘Today was interesting and fun.’ Brandon Hanley, St Paul’s CBS Student
For further information please contact
Freda Manweiler, Company Manger
Smashing Times Theatre and Film Company
Coleraine House, Coleraine Street, Dublin 7, DO7 E8XF
Tel: + 353 (0) 1 865 6613 Tel: + 353 (0) 87 221 4245