Having previously worked with indigenous communities running theatre and audio visual interactive workshops, I was invited by Modesto Garcia, a music professor working in a primary school based in La Chanca, Almeria, to create an audio visual theatrical performance running workshops with the children of the school.
Knowing the importance of cultural integration and the lack of student participation within the school we worked together to create a project that followed the curriculum and inspired the children from different grades to create content for the performance.
Los Egypcianos a journey of the gypsies from their departure from Egypt into India and across eastern Europe into Spain formed the basis of the production, with children from these communities and their families playing a primordial role, not just in the performance but in sharing skills and knowledge in music and dance.
The project was an incredible success, bringing to light the many talents within the school and its community. It formed a stage for children to come together from different ethnic backgrounds to find a common ground where they not only learnt about their unique cultures but also formed friendships, creating a network of support. I selected children from within the school to lead sections of the performance knowing their families would help to share their knowledge of dance and music.
To create the scenic backdrops the children researched the journey of the gypsy community from Egypt through India, Eastern Europe and finally into Spain, sourcing images, painting mandalas, writing poetry, filming, with which I then created the video sequences to accompany each scene. We were given access to the principal theatre in Almeria to stage the performance, allowing to bring to light to a greater audience the incredible talent this community held.
The importance of this project was the unity that it brought within the school between the children from diverse cultural backgrounds, where once they didn’t speak to each other, they were now singing, dancing and playing together. It created a spiral effect, uniting them and their families and the show was amazing too. The confidence inspired in many of these children saw them come out of their shells, it was a revelation to many included their parents who working as hard as they do had never really had the opportunity to see their children shine in this way.
Every child’s contribution to the project was given a place within the performance, so each was made to feel special in their own way, even if their feet weren’t touching the stage, their images, paintings, writings, costumes were.