Conflict Transformation Workshop - Loch Tay Retreat

Loch Tay Winter Retreat

Back in a snowy February 2020 a group of young people from Ignite Theatre Group spent three days at Loch Tay, Scotland.

The focus of the retreat was to examine issues around conflict transformation and how the arts can help survivors cope with past traumas. The retreat centred around four different workshops, each looking at a different element of the arts: Words, Music, Adinkra and Improvisation.

The retreat was documented by photographer Robin Mitchell. Robin’s photographs have been turned into a video (below) and the music that features was composed by the young people of Ignite at Loch Tay.

Please click on the video to view.

Arts Workshops

Words workshop. Credit: Robin Mitchell
Cerdit: Robin Mitchell
Adrinka symbols. Credit: Robin Mitchell
Drums. Credit Robin Mitchell.

Words

The Words workshop encouraged small groups to identify a theme that resonated with them. The team then weaved these themes together to create a story.

Hosted by Giovanna Fassetta (CUSP DA Principal Investigator) and Tawona Sithole (UNESCO RILA Artist in Residence) this session encouraged participants to actively listen and communicate with each other.

Music

Hosted by Gameli Todzro (UNESCO RILA Artist in Residence) the group explored African drumming and the Kora and were encouraged to find confidence through elements of music such as rhythm.

The group were set musical tasks that will help them to deal with conflict in the future.

Adinkra

Lead by Naa Densua Todzro (UNESCO RILA Researcher & Artist) the group used Adinkra symbols to celebrate their journey so far.

Adinkra symbols are from the west coast of Africa, particularly Ghana where they have great significance and are widely used throughout Ghanaian society.

Improvisation

Using what they had learned during the retreat’s workshops their own lived experiences the group began to process past traumatic events.

This exercise led to “Papercuts”, which was Ignite’s last show before the COVID-19 lockdown.

Photo Gallery

All photo credits: Robin Mitchell

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

1. Why did they kill my dad -Baba?

CUSP would like to thank Nazmi Al Masri, our Co-Investigator, who worked tirelessly throughout the conflict to capture Palestinian stories and document what was taking place in the Gaza Strip from 14th May 2021 – 21st May 2021. These blog posts were written during the conflict.

As the bombs rained down on the Gaza Strip, the work of CUSP shifts from building cultures of sustainable peace, to using language to testify to the suffering of war, the bloodshed and loss of civilian life. For our Palestinian partners in Gaza, this is now the place from which building sustainable peace must begin. The terms of our work have been violently reset here.  

In this piece, our Palestinian partner Nazmi Al Masri offers his reportage and tells the story of the killing and grief. He skillfully renders the immediacy of the destruction of peace and its effects in prose, the sentences factual and staccato reflecting the desperation, the reaching for evidence which is part of the necessary foundations for the justice which builds sustainable peace.  

The work on this piece is joint – editorial safety and authorial safety in a context where killing has become indiscriminate. We offer his words as part of the work of cultural justice as it unfolds, in extreme distress.  

Why did they kill my father?

BY NAZMI AL MASRI

Aya’s quotes have been taken from this article, first published in Arabic by Aljazeera, you can read the article here. For the purpose of this piece, some stylistic interpretation has been used.

“WHY did they Kill my father?”  

Cried sadly Aya Muin Al-Aloul who miraculously escaped certain death when Israeli warplanes, in just a few minutes, fired about 50 heavy bombs on Aya’s house and neighbouring residential buildings at Al-Wehda Street in GazaPalestine 

Stealing the Palestinian homeland for more than seven decades is never sufficient for Israeli occupation forces.  

Just one hour after midnight on Sunday 16 May, 2021, Israeli warplanes stole and killed the dreams and lives of 2 Palestinian doctors (Muin Al-Aloul and Ayman Abu Alouf), and 40 children, mothers and fathers who were in their homes.  

Credit: Alison Phipps

On this Sunday, heavy Israeli bombing caused an “earthquake” in the heart of Gaza City. Aya sadly describes this man-made earthquake:

“I was sitting with my parents in their room, as usual since the outbreak of the war, and suddenly there were aggressive and terrifying explosions. Our apartment collapsed completely and I started removing the debris from my body, God has given me the strength to survive.” 

“Our flat was full and surrounded by blackness, and the dust and smoke emanating from the explosions blocked my nose and almost killed me by suffocation . . .  I feel now that I have died and resurrected.”  

“I heard my mum calling me from under the rubble. In those moments I did not realize where I was, I tried to remove the rubble and save her, but it was not easy” recalling this heartbreaking tragedy.  

“I screamed with all strength, ‘help us, help us’ and as an ambulance was driving with full speed around the place, I blocked its way to seek help, and I did not know that my father was martyred,” Aya said, with tears falling from her eyes. 

Suffering painful physical and mental wounds, Aya describes her 66-year father: “my dad (baba) is compassionate, a human and distinguished psychiatrist, killed with smile on his face showing his pleasantness and goodness.” 

On her bed in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Aya extends her hand and grabs her mother’s hand, who was lying on a nearby bed with wounds, and in a shocked voice and fully distressed tone, Aya asks: “For what guilt did they kill my dad? “ 

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).