The Bielsko Artistic Association Grodzki Theatre from Poland (one of the RESTORE project partners ) has been involved in the international actions focused on promoting integration between host and refugee/migrant communities, since September 2019. The main aim of the “RAPPORT” initiative (“Refugee Arts with Participants and Practitioners Open to integRaTion”) is to use arts as a tool to challenge preconceptions and negative attitudes towards migrants/refugees, and to celebrate and confirm shared humanity and the positive impact of integration.

The development of collaborative community arts practice between four European partners (from Poland, UK, Spain and Sweden) includes devising and running creative workshops which nowadays have to be implemented virtually, due to pandemic situation. At the moment, social theatre operators and arts facilitators from all four project partner organizations work with their groups to create an innovative multi-arts performance, using theatre, dance, digital art, film and puppetry. In the same time they keep in constant touch to discuss various ways of connecting four separate art works and conclude partner exchange of creative methods and experience with joint presentation under the title “BABEL”. Its premiere has been planned  for June 2021.

In Poland, the workshop group consists of people who represent four nations: Lithuanian, Byelorussian, Russian and Polish. The participants get together via ZOOM platform once a week to explore the issues related to migration, traveling, and being an alien in a foreign country. At the beginning of the creative process they were introduced to the basics of puppet theatre – they learned how to build a simple puppet out of paper and string and how to animate it. Now, it`s time for developing personal stories to be further told by puppets and objects through non-verbal, visual narration. The participants draw inspiration from their own life experience first of all, but also from the collection of sentences shared by all workshop groups in four partner countries. These key phrases are the voice of those who directly experienced difficult times of being in exile, feeling homesick, searching for own identity.

I long to travel, my soul yearns for it.
At this moment I feel as if I am suspended and do not know how to start again.
Yes I’m ready to go!
Hooray freedom!
I have learned many things from this tornado.
I am here and I am alive, I am present and I have a body.
Listening to a native language from my childhood, I can see a non-existing world.
What people have lost when building Babel Tower? A common understanding.

Some of the above quoted sentences will appear in the final “BABEL” presentation which is hoped to be an artistic contribution to a lasting social change.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.