PUSH - thema´s

We stellen even de drie thema´s voor, in het Engels omdat dit ook de voertaal is van de labs.

gender and sexual identity

How can we use performance to explore gender and sexuality with children? And should we? How can we artists use our current skills and push ourselves and the sector to create bold and radical work for children? Through performance experiments, discussions, skill-sharing and cross-artform pollination, we will ask the difficult questions concerning taboos, stereotypes and archetypes within work for children, and question where the boundaries lie between what is safe, subversive or wholly inappropriate. Where are the tensions between these considerations? Who makes the rules? And is or isn´t it the job of the artist to push and question these ideas?

These questions will be a way to draw inspiration and understand the practices and approaches of artists from different European countries and artistic contexts. Although the question of ´What is allowed?´ can be applied to most aspects of making work for children, this LAB will encourage artists to look at their practice through the very particular lens of gender and sexuality. This LAB aims to push the potential for new work that can address and respond to the issues children face around gender and sexuality, without in any way compromising the art we make. In Scotland (UK) and other parts of Europe there can be some stigma around making 'issue-based' theatre that only goes into schools and is purely used as an educational tool to teach ´politically correct´ ideas about bullying or racism. This LAB aims to inspire artists to find new ways of creating work while taking responsibility for challenging representations of gender and sexuality.

In terms of gender and sexuality, the LAB seeks to address the disparity between the leaps forward in legal equality and the way children and society in general engages with these important areas. For example, we now have equal marriage rights for gay people, but the children´s theatre world is still mostly showing children traditional girl-meets-boy stories.


Risk used to be part of childhood. Outdoor activities, games in the woods, running and chasing, hitting and fighting, desperate parents. Outdoor activities used to be risky, chaotic, out of control. They used to be essential, and they still are. But we seem to have forgotten that and established them in neat and controlled playgrounds around the block*. Or in the back garden. Or on the PC in the bedroom.

Risk is essential for childhood and for a balanced growing up. And risk means freedom, escape from control; it allows danger to come in. But adults nowadays are unaccustomed to allowing that danger in children´s lives. Parents have decreased the roaming distance for their children by 90% during the last 30 years*. So how can we put back some of that danger and risk back into children´s lives?

We want to explore themes such as unsupervised time, danger zones, safety zones, falls and cuts. We want to understand the risk radar: where is the danger, what is the danger, how can we artistically play with it? Transform it in artistic concepts? Look at different relations between artists, audience and accidental passers-by. We want to look at the changes in parenting and restrictions on freedom for children away from parents or teachers in recreation time and how this has changed over the years.

* Recent scientific research proved that present day parents allow their children a "safety zone" which is determined by eyesight. Within that circular zone of approximately 40m, they consider their children to be "safe". As long as eye contact is possible, and frequently established - the research shows that parents having a drink on a terrace of a pub make eye contact with their children in the nearby playground every 20 seconds -children are allowed to play.


How can we talk about migration and asylum with our audiences, including minority voices, in a sector that is not yet diverse and a context that is highly political? Across the eight days of the LAB we wish to explore with artists the following questions:

  • Over half of the worlds displaced people are children, what is the role of the artist in telling/representing their stories?
  • What do children in Europe understand of the current immigration crisis? How can we explore and interrogate this in an age-appropriate and artistically interesting way?
  • Do children who have been displaced and live in Europe see themselves represented in culture?
  • What are the risks in trying to explore such an emotive issue through theatre and dance for an audience of children?

Immigration is the major crisis issue within the EU community at present and over half of the worlds displaced people are children. The Ark wish our LAB to explore the theme of migration as it impacts Ireland and our European neighbours and partners and how we can explore this issue with young people through theatre and dance. Ireland is now a developed European state with the capacity to contribute positively to the welfare and care of displaced people. Our own knowledge and history of catastrophic emigration could inform a cultural program which connects the traditional Irish experience of emigration with the contemporary European project. We are very interested to explore with our EU partners how different countries and cultures address this communal issue. We want to explore how the arts represent diverse communities. The Ark has many years´ experience working within marginalised communities across the city of Dublin and we are aiming from 2016 onwards to work with the direct provision community.

Info: www.pushproject.eu
Info: www.pushproject.eu/events/over-protection-lab

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