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All photos on left: Gerri Moriarty

Dry-stone wall sculpture 'Plowterin' - Scots/Irish for dabbling

'Talking Stanes' on the Falkland Estate, Fife, Scotland 








Teatri dhe Nacionalizimo: Theatre and Nationalism


Gerri’s essay, ‘ Quiet Voices, Small Stories, Other Paths’/ Zëra të quetë, rrëfime të vogla, mënrya të tjera’  was published as one of the texts from an ‘In Place of War’ conference, held at the National Theatre of Kosovo in Pristina in 2010, in English and Albanian (translated by Qerim Ondozi). It considers the extent to which ‘The Bench’,a play made with older people who had experienced the conflict in Northern Ireland, addressed issues of nationalism. Gerri writes:

‘I learned to be wary of easy assumptions. To give an example, because of the nature of the British Empire, for some of the older people I worked with, the greatest impact on their lives had come not from their experiences of the conflict in Northern Ireland, but from their experience of other conflicts. Jimmy, a character based on a former sailor who had joined the Merchant Navy, talks of being in India at the time of Partition:

    JIMMY: I remember being at a railway station near Bombay – it was heaving. Thousands of people sitting in the dirt, mothers and children getting down to go to the toilet in the pit. Nobody ever sees these things. But I’ve seen them. Waiting to be taken to a new land. No idea where they were going. No idea what was in front of them. Can you imagine? The faces of those people – they’ve haunted me all my life.’
Jimmy’s story is about India, but of course it has resonance with Northern Ireland, where families were burned out of their houses and forced to leave their areas.’

The Bench’ is one of the projects included in ‘Creative Transformations: conversations on determination, risk, failure and unquantifiable success’  by Ruth Morrow, Doris Rohr and Kirstin Mey , published by the University of Ulster (2008)



Theatre and Empowerment: Community Drama on the World Stage


Gerri contributed to a chapter to this book, edited by Richard Boon and Jane Plastow, 2004, Cambridge University. She begins:


(In 1999) I undertook an epic journey as a contributor to The Wedding Community Play Project in Belfast. This was a metaphoric and literal journey undertaken by 150 community participants (ranging in age from ten to sixty-five), a number of professional arts workers, an audience of 700 and a very much wider audience who read about the project in their newspapers, saw extracts on television programmes and at conferences and heard about it from their friends.


Its production style ensured that no two people travelled exactly the same theatrical journey; its confrontational genesis ensured that no two versions of its history completely agree.


So this is my version of that journey: flawed, partisan, partial.  Other voices will weave in and out of the story, but I am the narrator and I have selected, judged, shaped, and edited these other voices to meet my purposes. I am a player in the narrative, not a detached observer.’    


The Wedding Play (1999), which Gerri co-directed – is also discussed in Art and Upheaval: Artists on the World’s Frontlines by William Cleveland, published by New Village Press,2008.



Community Arts and Quality 


In An Outburst of Frankness, Community Arts in Ireland – a reader, 2004,tasc at New Island, Gerri writes:


‘The search for quality in community arts, I would suggest, begins not at the moment of consumption by an external audience, but during the journey of creation and exploration in workshop by participants. The initial stages of this have three distinct elements. First, the participant is engaged in a process that concerns learning and technique, coming to terms with the discipline and demands of the art form – framing a photograph, remembering a movement sequence, mastering a craft skill.


Secondly, the participant is engaged in an individual authorial process, giving voice, developing confidence, finding expression for his/her own ideas, identity, feelings, observations.


Thirdly, he/she is engaged in group processes, such as discussing, reflecting, negotiating with others, developing a collective creative approach. This implies that evidence of excellence is to be found first in the degree of learning and second in the degree of authorship, (individual authorship and co-authorship) that is taking place within the workshop’