Manchester International Festival, UK
Tania Bruguera’s powerful, provocative and inspiring new work draws us nearer to those who’ve made Manchester their home, inviting us to discover and embrace the diversity in our midst.
During MIF19, the school offered over 80 classes on a wide-ranging curriculum that includes food, customs, politics and many other forms of knowledge – classes given by local people originally from countries around the world, from Zimbabwe to Tibet. These were not only instructional lessons, but something more personal and vivid. Each teacher passed on their own experiences, sharing skills, knowledge and culture in a different kind of communal integration and learning experience in the heart of Manchester.
Open and free to all, the School of Integration fostered cohesion and helped build bridges of cultural understanding – encouraging us to eliminate the idea of strangeness and cherish a plurality of voices, and integrating us with the world.
My role in the School of Integration was to look after the wellbeing of the teachers; moving through the full production process at their side. I ensured that everyone involved in the project understood the ethics of the work and what it aimed to achieve. I was instrumental in both the practical production - engagement, scheduling, budgeting, communication - and the creative development of the work. I worked with teachers to assist them in carefully crafting and creating lesson content, working through any ethical and emotional challenges. I also looked out for the mental and emotional wellbeing of those involved, helping to build skills and confidence so that teachers felt comfortable, prepared and equipped to share something of themselves with a live audience.