Young people and youth leaders in Derry have taken part in an innovative cultural arts project which deals with the human stories behind the transition of Northern Ireland’s police force from RUC to PSNI.
The young people performed Verbal Arts Centre’s Crows on the Wire (COTW) and discussion event of 2015 at the Long Tower Youth Centre.
The event included short performances by professional actors from the original COTW script by writer, Jonathan Burgess; drama activities; and facilitated discussion with the young people in response to the themes of the Impacts of Change, Intergenerational Attitudes and Empathy.
COTW, which was commissioned by the Verbal Arts Centre in 2013, explores the changeover of NI’s police force from the perspective of rank and file officers.
It toured NI as a theatrical performance, accompanied by discussions with panel members composed of former and serving police and security forces, former Republican prisoners, academics and journalists.
A COTW educational app was also developed to stimulate young people to consider how the past influences the present, and to explore themes such as cultural identity, sectarianism, conflict, change, commemoration, equality and the role of the younger generation.
‘Crows on the Wire - Cultural Diplomacy through the Arts’, is aimed at bringing single and mixed identity groups together in Northern Ireland and the border regions, to foster dialogue, empathy and aid understanding.
The project, led by Verbal’s Community Engagement Facilitator, Dr Mhairi Sutherland, is supported by the Reconciliation Fund, Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin.
It has been hosted in a number of venues both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with recent engagement events held in secondary schools in Counties Fermanagh, Donegal and Cavan.
Dr Sutherland said: “It is very fitting that the final Crows on the Wire live performance and discussion event of 2015 involves young people from the city.
“The Long Tower Youth Centre co-ordinator John Lynch invited Crows on the Wire to facilitate the activity with young people and youth leaders, who were invited from across the city.”