Youth Exchange — FINLAND
Roméo & Juliet
2012 Youth Exchange ”Loimaa-Limerick: Coming together” in Finland (Youth in Action, CIMO) 23 young people & 3-4 group leaders from each country
In the summer of 2012 twenty-three members of The County Limerick Youth Theatre travelled to Lomavalkama in Finland to work with with 23 Finnish young people from Loimaa Teatteri again in our second youth exchange project. Living in the woods by the sea in Lomavalkama, the two groups spent 10 days together exploring themes from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ before travelling to Loimaa to perform their work through dance, film and forum theatre at the Loimaan Teatteri Theatre.
2011 Youth Exchange ”Teenagers Together in Theatre” in Ireland 18 young people & 2 group leaders from each country
In the summer of 2011 The County Limerick Youth Theatre invited twenty young people from a youth theatre in the Loimaa region of Finland to Ireland. At the Carne Holiday Centre, a beautiful camp by the sea in County Wexford, the Finnish group spent ten days with twenty Irish teenagers exploring their similarities and celebrating their differences through a series of drama and movement activities including forum and physical theatre and improvisation with music. Funded by the European Union’s Youth in Action: Youth Exchange programme.
The objectives of Teenagers Together in Theatre were:
To increase participants’ awareness of identity (similarities and differences) and citizenship by interacting with another, culturally different, youth theatre group.
To question and explore how teenagers from another culture react to and deal with issues relating to young people.
To create a piece of theatre that portrays a complex, positive set of images of young people in society and challenges stereotypes of young people.
To increase participants’ self esteem in the process and bring them to the point where they see themselves as agents of social change in a European context.
As GREASE, the musical, was the stimulus for the ten days’ work, its themes were in the foreground and tackled in the Devising and Exploring Sessions. The themes that the young people particularly focused upon were peer pressure, teenage pregnancy, underage smoking and drinking and the umbrella of difference that included being gay, being socially challenged and being depressed. Evident in the exploration was an overwhelming sense from the young people of combating the difficulties that these present.
The activities were supported by a stimulating range of skills-based workshops including Dance for Life (an AIDS education programme), Round the World (an intercultural bridge-building exercise), Using the Meisner Technique (a set of exercises making connections between performers on stage) and Lip Dub, the creation of a Dance video of a GREASE song.
These were further augmented by a series of social and sporting activities that cemented relationships, improved communication skills and created a hugely enjoyable intercultural exchange where barriers were flattened very quickly indeed. They included workshops on Irish Dancing and Rugby Football, Finnish food sharing, an intercultural quiz and scavenger hunt organised by the Youth Leaders, Hurling and Finnish Baseball demonstrations and games and a wide variety of intercultural activities developed by SALTO.
2010 Sari Äikää-Torkkeli participates in Making Connections – a Training Course for youth theatre facilitators run by Leargas, the Irish national Agency in Dublin and meets County Limerick Youth Theatre.