Based in East Belfast, Terra Nova Productions is Northern Ireland’s only professional theatre company to place intercultural work at the heart of what they do. Under Ards and North Down Borough Council’s Peace IV Programme, Terra Nova was awarded a tender to deliver a large scale Multi-Cultural Arts project to tackle issues around ethnic diversity and multiculturalism, breaking down barriers and raising awareness of ethnic diversity and creating community cohesion in the Borough.
The project was an intercultural extravaganza, full-length production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, titled AND Dream. Terra Nova worked for over 18 months with over 500 individuals from community groups, schools and amateur dramatic groups to create a full theatre production with the community involved in everything from set and costume design to choreography, music, dance, acting and front of house, all while keep interculturalism at the heart of the project.
Local community were engaged in 40 workshops throughout 8 wards within the Borough in a variety of venues accessible to the community. These ranged from schools and community halls to care homes and coffee shops. The participants were members of community groups, local choirs, art clubs, drama groups, creative writing groups, plus the YMCA’s ethnic minority young people’s group, Voices of Young People in Care and the Alzheimer’s Society. The community were engaged in all aspects of production. Over 150 volunteer participants were engaged in the production.
It was staged in Newtownards in May 2019 with 5 shows over a 4-day period that were all full houses. The impact of the AND Dream Project has been far-reaching. There has been an improvement in relations between communities where there would previously have been tension and participants have said that they feel more comfortable discussing difficult topics within their friend/family/community circles. The opportunity be part of such a significant project has instilled a sense of pride and confidence not only in the participants individually but in the community as a whole.
Photo credit: Neil Harrison Photography