Creative Arts, Human Rights and Peace Symposium in Northern Ireland

Smashing Times are delighted to announce a one-day Creative Arts, Human Rights and Peace Symposium in Northern Ireland to celebrate the role of the arts in promoting equality, human rights and positive community relations. The symposium, which takes place on Thursday, 17 October in the Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, features a performance of The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII by Mary Moynihan, Fiona Bawn-Thompson and Paul Kennedy, alongside workshops and presentations with artists and guest speakers Dr Stephen Herron and Fiona Bawn-Thompson. The event will run from 10am to 4pm.

The aim of the symposium is to bring together diverse communities to hear about and be inspired by powerful women’s stories from WWII – through watching a performance of The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII – and to come together from a cross-border and inter-community perspective to share their own stories and to explore solutions for reconciliation and the development of a genuinely integrated society. A key aim is to explore how to acknowledge the experiences of diverse groups and to identify collective shared solutions for a rights-based society and the promotion of tolerance and respect for different cultures into the future.

The theatre piece, The Women is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII, is a creative reimagining of moments from the lives of women during WWII, recalling stories of bravery, sacrifice and love amidst the horror of war, as women stood up against fascism and totalitarianism and refused to accept oppression. Women’s stories in the performance include, among others, Mary Elmes (1908-2002), a Cork woman who was the first Irish person honoured as ‘Righteous Among Nations’ for her work saving Jewish children from the Nazi gas chambers during World War II; Ettie Steinberg (1914-42) the only female Jewish Irish citizen known to have been murdered in Auschwitz; Marta Hillers (1911-2001) from Germany who wrote her autobiography Eine Frau in Berlin (A Woman in Berlin) under the name ‘Anonyma’, detailing her experiences of the last days of WWII as she and over one million other women were raped and abused by Allied soldiers of the Red Army; Neus Català Pallejà (b.1915) from Spain, a member of the United Socialist Party of Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, an active collaborator with the French Resistance during WWII and until very recently the only living Spanish survivor of Ravensbrück concentration camp for women.

This event is part of Creative Connections, an arts-based project using creative processes of theatre, film and new digital technologies to promote reconciliation and positive community relations between people and traditions in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland today. The project is implemented by Smashing Times in partnership with CAIN (Conflict Archive on the Internet), the University of Ulster INCORE International Conflict Research Institute and in association with four participant groups – Down GAA, Castlewellan, County Down; Ballybeen Women’s Centre, Belfast; Old Warren Association, Lisburn; and the UDR Association, Portadown Branch, Portadown. More on the project here. We gratefully acknowledge the support of our funders, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland.

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