We hope you are all keeping safe and well this March! This month’s newsletter is themed Women’s Voices in the Arts. The newsletter includes work from feature artist Mary Moynihan, and a short article by Dijana Milošević, Dah Teatar, Serbia, as well as news from the network, the latest grants and opportunities, and more!
Created as part of Art Connects: At Home with Smashing Times, our online series of curated arts content, newsletters, and events.
'As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.' Virginia Woolf
'We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.' - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Writer
'You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.' – Maya Angelou, Poet and Civil Rights Activist
'If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.' - Dolly Parton, Singer, Songwriter, Actor, Author and Humanitarian
Novelist Chimamanda Adichie, Ted Talk
Chimamanda tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. Listen here
Audre Lorde – The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House
Audre Lorde, a prolific writer, feminist, and civil rights activist, on the need for the diverse representation of women in order to facilitate diverse thought and real change. Read the full speech here
‘Daughters of Dust’, Julie Dash, 1991
Julie Dash’s ground-breaking historical drama is arguably one of the most significant films of the last 30 years. The first U.S. feature film written and directed by an African American woman to receive a wide theatrical release, the story, which is set in the early 1900s, paints a vivid portrait of Gullah Geechee culture — communities descended from enslaved Africans who settled along the coast and Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia. The film captures the last gathering of the Peazant family as the younger generation prepares to leave the island and their matriarch, Nana Peazant (Cora Lee Day), for the promise of the mainland. Powerfully summoning the Igbo Landing mythology of 1803, “Daughters of the Dust” still resonates today, most recently as an influence on Beyonce’s video album “Lemonade.” The film was recently restored for the first time with proper colour grading overseen by cinematographer Jafa, ensuring that audiences can finally see the film exactly as director Dash intended.
If watching a single mother peel potatoes in real time by day and sell her body by night doesn’t sound like the essence of cinema to you, it’s time you finally saw “Jeanne Dielman.” Chantal Akerman’s magnum opus — which clocks in at 201 minutes and takes place almost entirely in its title character’s modest apartment — is very much a before-and-after moment in the history of film, and not just because it’s been rightly hailed as the medium’s first feminine masterpiece.
Delphine Seyrig’s haunting performance shows us a woman in the grips of domestic malaise, with limited dialogue but endless emotion in the way she carries out the most mundane of tasks over the course of two days. Each frame exudes tension and a quiet kind of excitement. To say that Jeanne’s chores are mere prelude to something far more eventful than dinner would be an understatement, as would simply calling “Jeanne Dielman” the best film ever directed by a woman. It is that, but it’s also one of the most important movies ever made.
Mary Moynihan is an award-winning writer, director, theatre and film-maker, Artistic Director of Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality, and a Theatre Lecturer at the TU Dublin Conservatoire. As Artistic Director of Smashing Times, Mary specialises in using interdisciplinary arts practice to promote human rights, peace building, gender equality and positive mental health, developing cutting edge arts-based projects with a range of organisations in Ireland, Northern Ireland and across Europe. Award-winning projects include Acting for the Future, which uses theatre to promote positive mental health and well-being, run in partnership with the Samaritans, and the highly successful Women War and Peace, using theatre and film to promote equality and peace. As playwright and theatre director, Mary’s work includes the highly acclaimed The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII co-written with Paul Kennedy, Fiona Bawn Thompson, and Féilim James; In One Breath from Testimonies and Constance and Her Friends, selected by President Michael D. Higgins for performance at Áras an Uachtaráin for Culture Night 2016.
Mary’s film work includes the hour-long television documentary Stories from the Shadows, the short film Tell Them Our Names, inspired by women’s stories of WWII and selected for the London Eye International Film Festival and the Kerry Film Festival, the creative documentary Women in an Equal Europe and a new short film Courageous Women inspired by women’s stories from the 1916 to 1923 period in Irish history. Mary has worked extensively in Northern Ireland using the arts to promote peace building, reconciliation and positive community relations.
"As an artist my job is to tell stories. I have a strong interest in historical memory as a source of inspiration for my creative practice. I first became involved creatively in using memory as a form of storytelling through my peacebuilding work in Northern Ireland. We worked since before the ceasefires and in a post-conflict environment after peace was established, using the arts to promote peace building and reconciliation. My artistic work is rooted in Konstantin Stanislavski’s search for truth and a focus on the ensemble in performance and the visceral-driven work of Deirdre O’Connell’s Focus Theatre from which my own work and that of Smashing Times emerged. I often reflect on the wise words of American theatre practitioner Viola Spolin and her focus on the physical and intuitive to reach the unknown; on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and my own approach to embodied theatre practice combined with the aesthetics of film and digital art."
In Time is a personal response to the changing landscape of our world today. Mary says, ‘I wrote In Time after experiencing a serious form of Covid-19. Shortly afterwards the poem was transformed into a poem-film, co-directed with Mark Quinn, performed by Carla Ryan and Kwasie Boyce with original music composed and performed by Lisa McLoughlin-Gnemmi. It was a pleasure working with these amazing artists.
My work is often provoked by suffering and loss and I am drawn to the dark spaces (the darkness within darkness) perhaps as a gateway to the heart of a mystery or what is unknown, and to shine a light and find ways forward and ways of letting go.’
Women have always played a key role in history in relation to promoting visions for an inclusive and open society. Artists in Smashing Times believe that to create a new future we need to remember what has happened in the past, however, women’s stories are often invisible. Masculinized memories of history are often the norm as the role of powerful women are side-lined and forgotten. In recent years Smashing Times have used theatre and film to explore women’s lived experiences from the past and how they influence us today. Courageous Women is a creative art film based on imagined re-creation of moments from the lives of women in Irish history from 1916 to 1923, inspired by the stories of Constance Markievicz (1868-1927), an Irish politician, revolutionary nationalist, suffragette and socialist; Helena Moloney (1884-1967), a member of Inghinidhe na hÉireann and the Irish Citizen Army who was stationed at City Hall Garrison during the Easter Rising of 1916 ; Margaret Skinnider (1893-1971), a revolutionary feminist and maths teacher who came to Dublin from Scotland at the age of 23 to take part in the Easter Rising and Hanna Sheehy Skeffington (1877 1946), a radical activist, feminist, pacifist and human rights campaigner and one of Ireland’s foremost suffragettes. Click the image above to view the trailer.
Women's Voices Then & Now - Virtual Exhibition
This exhibition takes inspiration from women’s stories from the 1916 to 1923 period in Irish history, highlighting stories of change experienced by pioneering women in Ireland. We explore women’s stories covering the Irish Rising of 1916, the 1918 Centenary Vote for Women, the Civil War, War of Independence, and the founding years of the Irish Free State. We also highlight the voices of artists and citizens as they reflect on the decade of centenaries taking place in Ireland. Join us for storytelling and creativity as we journey across four rooms highlighting extraordinary stories of women - click the image above to get started.
Are these ordinary women in extraordinary times or is it simply that all women are extraordinary?
Lines from 'Ode to a Coolock Queen'
'Ode to a Coolock Queen' is written from a female perspective and explores identify, gender, violence, passion, self-destruction and possible redemption. It is an attempt as Sylvia Plath says ‘to be true to my own weirdnesses’ and is an oral storytelling narrative that is about a broader reflection on what it is to be born out of a working class environment. It is suitable for a spoken word format. Below is a short extract from the poem.
I had let anger determine the world I was in,
Chaining me deep to a dungeon within
Never realising my walls were self-made
A perpetual shame to create my own cave.
I let them determine what I had become -
So turning from darkness I rise to the sun
Stealing back to night school where I learn anew
A philosophy that says to myself to be true.
Accept my uniqueness, become my own guide
Accept a world where all can thrive
I reclaim the earth for fools like me
All are equal, all are free.
Smashing Times News
International Women's Day Statement
The UN theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2021 was Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World. The day celebrated the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the gaps that remain.
Smashing Times Artistic Director, Mary Moynihan, said,
‘Women need 50/50 equal representation in politics and in all levels of society. Representation is not enough, women need, desire and demand equal access to power and 50/50 positions in all power-making structures in society. The stories told to our young people need to be representative of all women from across diverse communities and we look forward to the day when there is equality, dignity and respect for all people equally. Smashing Times are committed to using the arts to promote a world filled with equality and peace and believe the arts have a key role to play in creating a world that is sustainable, peaceful, diverse and equal. As the UN says, ‘to get us there, the world needs women at every table where decisions are being made.’
Click the image above to read the full statement.
Creative Voices for Diverse Narratives
Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics
Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality, in conjunction with the Imagine Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics are delighted to present an online panel discussion on the role of the arts to promote human rights, to support the telling of different stories and to build connections between diverse communities. Creative Voices for Diverse Narratives panel discussion takes place online on Monday 22 March 2021 at 7pm.
Join us as we bring together artists, cultural activists and communities to explore the power of the arts in social and political contexts to promote cultural expression, cultural diversity and a culture of tolerance, human rights and equality for all. Speakers include Noelle McAlinden, Visual Artist, Creative Advisor and Mental Health Campaigner, Curator and Cultural Broker; Richard Edgar, Author and Historian, Dave Randall, Musician and Writer, Charo Lanao, Change Agent, Facilitator, Trainer and Coach and Dr Stephen Herron, Researcher, Academic, Cultural Anthropologist, and Community Relations Facilitator with Smashing Times.
Click the image to see our full line up of speakers and to register for this free event.
Smashing Times Long Listed for The Award for Civic Arts Organisations
Smashing Times are delighted and honoured to be long listed for The Award for Civic Arts Organisations by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch), in partnership with King’s College London.
Artistic Director, Mary Moynihan said that to be long listed is, “great recognition for the power of our work in Northern Ireland and the role that arts organisations can play in society, boldly reimagining our work to connect with communities to promote the arts for equality, human rights and diversity.” The Award seeks to highlight and celebrate civic arts organisations and their response to the pandemic, with funding and further support to continue their work and share learning. The Award will shine a spotlight on the vital role that arts organisations play in sustaining a thriving, creative, and connected society, particularly during challenging times.
We would like to thank the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Kings College London for this prestigious selection.
Click the image above to find out more.
News from the Network
Noelle McAlinden awarded Sir Ken Robinson Unlocking Creativity Award
Smashing Times’ great friend and colleague Noelle McAlinden was granted the Sir Ken Robinson Unlocking Creativity Award on Friday 5 March. Sir Ken Robinson passed away in 2020 and the Unlocking Creativity Awards were set up to support inspirational individuals, organisations and schools who are empowering others through creative learning. The awards are funded by the Department for Communities through Northern Ireland Screen, which also funds Creative Learning Centres set up in Derry and Belfast by the Nerve Centre.
Noelle has worked with Smashing Times on a variety of projects, most recently on the Emotional Landscapes Virtual Exhibition, where she contributed artworks on the recurring personal theme of ‘the space between us’. Click the image above to view the exhibition.
For Your Own Good By Dijana Milošević, Dah Theatar, Serbia
DAH Theater opened its new production For Your Own Good during the Festival of Arts & Human Rights that took place at the end of October 2020 in Belgrade. This show deals with the issue of children’s rights and was the part of the larger project 'Rights 4 Kids', supported by Creative Europe program of EU.
The show had two starting points - one was research done in relation to the meaning and interpretation of fairy tales, and the other was material gathered during the workshops we created with young homeless people in Belgrade. The fairy tales that were read to us during childhood are, by and large, interpretations of stories by the Brothers Grimm, who took folk stories and tales and offered their own reading of them. These fairy tales, that have influenced generations, are often highly misogynistic and contain different hidden messages that reinforce clichéd ideas about women and girls. Women are often presented as being weak, not being able to make decisions, waiting for the ’prince’ to rescue them (Snow White for example). 'Some Day My Prince Will Come', a famous song from the Disney adaptation of the story, has echoed throughout popular culture. Women in fairy tales are shown as stock characters like wicked witches and evil stepmothers/mothers (Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Snow White). Other problematic messages include the 'desirable' appearances of girls and young women as in Cinderella, Snow White and many others: 'Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?'
Our relationship with the world is mostly shaped during childhood; it is the time when, on an unconscious level, we form beliefs that determine our personalities later on. Such messages are harmful and dangerous, even more so because they are hidden and wrapped around the seductive world of fairy tales. It was important for us at DAH Theatar to try to de-construct fairy tales and shed light on their ideas, whose final consequences often result in abuse of children and women.
Working with homeless young people, we learned that they are very aware of their rights, much more aware than most adults, and that these rights are violated on a daily basis. Their experiences encouraged us to include a ‘documentary’ component into the show and give concrete information about the abuse of children and youth, linking directly to the messages found in fairy tales. Some of the dark statistics shown on video slides during the show, say:
“There are 7,500 abandoned children currently living in Serbia; There are currently five and a half million child victims of human trafficking world-wide, forced into prostitution, begging, theft, and slave labor; Approximately 650 million girls and women were forced into marriage as children around the world today; Child beauty pageants are a multi-billion-dollar industry. Once they are brought into the world of beauty pageants, artificial tanning, heavy make-up, hair-dye, fake nails and eyelashes are being used on girls as young as 3 or 4. There were cases recorded of Botox being used with seven-year-old girls and aesthetic surgeries performed on girls as young as twelve”.
I invited my students from the Belgrade Dance Institute, where I also teach, to one of the final rehearsals of the show. Shortly after, they were excited to share that in their opinion, the story was actually about women's rights. Their point of view was very important to me, because at that moment I realized that we cannot talk about children's rights if we do not talk about women's rights; that they are connected and interwoven.
The same system that used to burn women at the stake, created the slave trade, and made spectacles of public executions that were attended by children, today produces the idea of the female body as flesh to be traded while creating a media spectacle out of it yet again. The studies have shown that two thirds of television programs, films, and video games contain some form of violence and that an average child will, until the age of 18, see at least 200,000 violent actions, mostly against women. These statistics, sadly tell us that human rights, children's rights, and women's rights, are something that even in the most developed countries should never be taken for granted. We must be constantly vigilant and responsive to their violations.
Every Woman has a Heroine Inside
HEROINES is an ERASMUS+ project that aims to amplify the voices of women with mental health challenges living in rural or isolated areas though creative writing.
A group of five European organizations from Spain, Slovenia, Greece, Finland and United Kingdom working on the development of a training course to empower women using a methodology based on therapeutic writing. This expression of feelings and emotions through creative writing fosters personal growth and the self-discovery of the heroine that is inside every woman.
During the training sessions, the participants are introduced to the stories of several role model women who overcame gender-based abusive situations to inspire their writings. We have collected the life stories of 36 women that were brave enough to fight for their rights, for their dreams or who overcame difficult situations. Personal success stories from the participants will be included in the New HEROINES Anthology alongside some of their writings. In addition, a collaboration of local women artists will illustrate this publication. These artists will be inspired by the HEROINES initiative and in Autumn 2021, five exhibitions (one in each of the partners’ countries) will be arranged to show their art works jointly with some writings from the new Heroines.
Find out more on the HEROINES website here. Discover the heroine inside you!
8M - Manifest
Over the past months, PELE (Espaço de Contacto Social e Cultural, Portugal) has been collectively thinking how to occupy public spaces on 8 March – a symbolic day that represents the feminist fight for gender equality. We called on a variety of people from all ages and contexts to embark on a collective journey to find out what we could do together, even though we were all apart and in lockdown.
Throughout a handful of encounters on zoom, we tried theatrical warm-ups, we followed each others’ movements, we shared stories of women who inspire us, we drew our own protest posters…we stayed in silence, whenever it was needed. After a few of these encounters, these women collectively decided they wanted to create a poem-manifest to express everything they feel it’s urgent to change. We then invited everyone to film themselves at home and on the streets, holding their protest words and firmly staring at the invisible spectators.
When March 8th finally arrived, we occupied digital public spaces with a video-manifest, counting with almost 100 participants - an artistic and political act which aimed to activate and inspire everyone for the urgency of affirming gender equality, both on the private and public spaces.
This video-manifest is the result of that collective movement, showing how togetherness can be achieved, even when we are all apart. Visit Pele's website here.
Diving into Challenges of Online Language Learning and Teaching Online Conference - Soros International House
Soros International House on behalf of the NORDPLUS / Nordic Languages Play Your Way to Norway project team takes the pleasure to invite you to the Online Conference Diving into Challenges of Online Language Learning and Teaching: Benefits from OER, taking place online on Thursday 29 April 2021, from 15:00 to 17:45 CET.
When: Thursday 29 April 2021, 15:00 – 17:45 CET Where: Online via Zoom Language: English Agenda:please follow this link to view the preliminary agenda for the conference Registration: please complete the online registration form here by 19 April 2021
No registration fees
Landspeak is a series of free online talks, workshops, events, and activities, seeking to build connections through explorations in culture, sport, creativity, language, and the environment, taking place from 17 - 21 March.
Based on the idea of two lands speaking to each other, and resonating with Jeanette Armstrong’s “Land Speaking,” this gathering will provide a space for learning and building lasting relationships between the people of Ireland and the Indigenous peoples from different nations and territories of Turtle Island. Landspeak is presented by the Ireland Canada University Foundation, in partnership with the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture in the University of Manitoba, the Centre for Canadian Studies in University College Dublin, and the Craig Dobbin Visiting Professor, University College Dublin.
Click on the image above to see the schedule of events and register.
The State of Artistic Freedom Report 2021
Freemuse have launched The State of Artistic Freedom 2021 report, a much needed document highlighting 978 acts of violations of artistic freedom in 2020 in 89 countries and online spaces. According to Freemuse, in 2020 17 artists were killed, 82 were imprisoned and 133 detained.
"Oppressing artists’ voices has not stopped with the restrictions on cultural events imposed worldwide following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the contrary, to some extent, it intensified. . . . In 2020, 26% of all documented restrictions of artistic freedom took place in Europe, followed by 22% in North and South America, 19% in the Middle East and North Africa, 15% in Asia and Pacific, 9% in Africa and 9% online. 74% of all documented imprisonments of artists concerned criticising government policies and practices, with 44% of all imprisonments happening in the Middle East and North Africa. Politics was the main rationale of 71% of detentions of artists."
Click on the image above for more information and to download the full report.
New Voices Series – Against the Odds 2: Open Studios
The aim of the New Voices of Ireland Series is to present migrant artists to the wider online community, to let them tell about their artistic practices, their new and previous works, their plans and about themselves, their lives in Ireland and their artistic and personal roots.
The series includes Samantha Brown and Gboyega Akerele on 25 March, and Tag Beckett and feature artist in the January edition of the Art Connects Newsletter, Roxana Manouchehri, on 1 April.
Click on the image above for more information.
Surviving of Thriving?
Surviving or Thriving? is an innovative new online series designed to support the wellbeing of arts professionals in Ireland, with particular relevance to the present Covid-19 pandemic. The series of panel discussions, workshops and podcasts, which is open to all those working in the arts in Ireland and is free of charge, aims to strengthen resilience, restore confidence and promote connectedness across the arts sector. Surviving or Thriving? takes place over three weeks from 15 March to 01 April 2021, with podcasts and other online resources available ongoing.
Click on the image above for more information.