Several respected and renowned Derry theatre practitioners addressed the recent ‘‘Nine Tenths Under; Performing the Peace’, arts and peace-building conference at the Brian Friel Theate, Belfast.
Key note speaker at the conference, which was co-organised by the ICAN project, The Playhouse and Queen’s University school of performing arts, was journalist Ed Maloney.
In addition to the Irish speakers, the Playhouse brought artists and practitioners from post conflict and conflict societies together from as far away as the Aparat Theatre Company, Sarajevo and Afghanistan.
Elaine Forde ICAN co-ordinator said: “The conference ignited conversations around how the Arts can benefit post conflict societies. It was great to see people exchange ideas, talk about new methods applicable to local and international issues.”
The conference screened: ‘The Far Side of Revenge’, a documentary film by Derry producer and director Margo Harkin.
The movie was made in partnership engagement with The Playhouse, Theatre of Witness project.
Other esteemed contributors to the conference included playwrights Dave Duggan and Owen McCafferty and Jane Taylor of the University of Chicago and University of The Western Cape.
Keynote speaker Ed Maloney addressed a special panel chaired by filmmaker Declan Keeney, including University of Ulster’s Cahal McLaughlin of The Prison Memory Archive, filmmaker Alison Millar, and Claire Hackett, from the Healing Through Remembering project and Falls Community Council’s oral history archive, Dúchas.
In his speech Maloney said that many involved have been put at risk by Boston College’s response to the legal battle surrounding ‘The Boston College Project. ‘
“People could well be killed. My researcher is at risk and so are the people he interviewed.
“All are at risk of being treated as informers by their former comrades” Maloney said.
“Some could end up in jail or at least face the possibility of criminal charges.
“When Boston College undertook this project they gave us and the interviewees a solemn promise that their confidentiality would be protected until death.
“Now some of them face the possibility of death and the betrayal of their confidentiality.
“Shame on them.”
He said this would not be the only consequence of the legal action.
“This conference has as its inspiration the idea that history is rather like an iceberg, only one-tenth is visible while the vast bulk remains unseen and unheard. So where do we usually get that one-tenth of history from?” he said.
“In the end the most insidious aspect of the HET [Historical Enquiries Team]/PSNI offensive against the Boston College is that it will effectively close down any effort to tell the story of the Troubles from the point of view of the foot soldiers”.
“In that sense the HET is staking a claim on behalf of two groups that only they will be permitted to tell the story of the Troubles.
“One is the State through its security agencies and the other is the leaders who survived the war and now prosper in the peace.
“More than any other reason that is why their action, and the silence from those who should not be silent about this affair, should be condemned and resisted with all the force we can muster.”