Since the outbreak of war in Syria Greece has been overwhelmed by the number of refugees, many of these are children who have witnessed first hand the traumas of war.
Two professional clowns from CWB Ireland’s Cork Branch Arran Towers and Jimmy Bray worked in collaboration with two artists from CWB Finland. Together they performed and facilitated a series of workshops, co-creating a show with refugees at the Ritsona Refugee Camp, Athens. This intervention was requested by the NGO- Lighthouse Relief to assit in providing long-term relief in the form of psycho-social support services to vulnerable groups such as women, children and young people in Ritsona camp helping them to regain a sense of safety, dignity and empowerment.
The 4 clowns then traveledl across Greece to Serres to perform a number of shows for refugees in informal settlements on the borders of Macedonia and Bulgaria, this was achieved with the organisational and logistical support of the NGO- Lifting Hands.
This was a first time collaboration between CWB Ireland and CWB Finland. Both organisations see it as a very successful collaboration and wish to work again in the future. We also worked with two new partners in the field; the Swedish NGO Lighthouse Relief and the US NGO Lifting Hands International.
CWB Ireland see this as being a very positive initial project in Greece. We have gained an understanding of the conditions, challenges and opportunities present in Greece and subsequent tours there will be greatly aided by this experience. It is significant for us to have collaborated with another International chapter. This was our first time collaborating with CWB Finland. OurThe camps had never experienced interventions of this kind. As it was a project to make a show with refugees while also performing ourselves every day in the camp, the trust grew daily, the kids and their carers became increasingly interested in the project.
Both partners in the field; Lighthouse Relief and Lifting Hands International were delighted with CWB Ireland’s contribution to their efforts to provide arts, entertainment and stimulus to the residents of the refugee camps they oversee. They had never seen such enthusiasm in the camp and willingness to take part. Whole community events, such as the performances we provided are extremely rare. Couple this with this the interactive style of our performances even rarer opportunities for children and adults to share the limelight and be applauded are realised which has huge restorative effect on participants and the audience. A lovely moment at the camp in Serres was when a young boy saw us arriving in our clown attire, he immediately rushed away, moments later we heard him calling us, he was standing in the doorway of his ISO hut wearing a tiny clown suit. Both partners have requested CWB Ireland to repeat the collaboration in 2018. Which we have plans in the works to do.
Our field partners were extremely happy with our professionalism, sensitivity and the suitability of our performance in what is a highly charged, challenging and emotive situation.
This tour is kindly supported by Culture Ireland and the generosity of public donations.