The Big Democracy Project - Cardiff

Brilliant/Manic/Eye Opening/Heart-Warming/Grounding/Sad/Hopeful/Proud

These a few words that spring to mind when I think of the Big Democracy event that took place at Oasis Cardiff a few weeks ago.

 

This time an idea to explore identity and democracy was put forward by Oasis Cardiff, an Asylum and Refugee centre. This is an issue that is close to my heart and once the ideas was chosen by the public I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

 

During my time working at Oasis a met some really amazing people with, often, amazing stories. I had my own thoughts on democracy in the UK challenged by listening and speaking to people with massively different experiences to myself. I realised that whilst this country isn’t perfect, far from it, we still live a privileged existence especially when compared with the lives of people living in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Eritrea…. A few of the countries represented at Oasis.

 


 

The event took place on Friday 13th March, and went much better than I could ever had expected. We had fives days to
create a series of performances from scratch and each and everyone involved created something brilliant, especially when you consider that some of the guys involved had little to no experience of performing and it is a massive credit that they rose to the challenge of performing in a second language and in front of a crowd. And what a crowd we had.

 

As with all performances that are unticketed, right up until the doors open there is the nagging question ‘Will anyone Turn up?’ well on this evening people did turn up. I had hoped for 80 to 100 people but we had 160, which was capacity and I think we had to turn about 30 or 40 people way.

 

Interspersed between the performances we asked four questions for the audience to consider and discuss:

 

  1. What are British Values?
  2. Is identity important?
  3. Do we live in a Democracy?
  4. What does it mean to integrate?

 

And it was listening to these conversations and opinions that, personally, I learnt the most. I wanted to ask the question ‘What are British Values?’ Because I had read this article during rehearsals http://rt.com/uk/238841-uk-islamist-isis-strategy/

 

I asked myself what I thought British Values are. My (cynical) answer was enslaving people, stealing land, stealing oil and resources etc etc. Entering into an unjust war, despite huge public objection and I expected to hear similar answers from the audience. But what people talked about free education, free health care and the freedom to express your self, things that aren’t available in their own countries. And this was a ‘real slap in the back of the head’ moment for me. Although I am still passionate about helping to make a better society for us to live inand feel we have a far way to go in achieving that I think that we live in what I call a ‘privileged oppression’.

 

If you are interested in getting involved in the Big Democracy Project there are two ways.

 

On Tuesday 7th April we will be inviting ideas for the next event from across mid Wales, for more info check http://nationaltheatrewales.org/big-democracy-project.

 

We also have a group called The Peoples Think Tank, which is an open group http://community.nationaltheatrewales.org/group/the-peoples-think-tank

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