Pilot project in Cyprus

NICeR Atelier Cyprus

Every Saturday, from January to May 2017, young refugees and non-refugees aged 12-25 years old participate in workshops, which contain drama, music as well as linguistic/cultural activities. The workshops are attended by a heterogeneous group of young people from different parts of the world. More precisely, participants come from Cyprus, Somalia, Pakistan, India, Lebanon, China, Philippines, Palestine, Romania and Syria. In a three hours’ theatre, drama and music training, participants are dealing with the topics of Identity, Home and Integration. The final staging of the work produced during these months will be in May.

Taster Session

We had our first meeting on the 14th of January, when our Taster Session took place, launching the Atelier. At our first session, we focused on introducing the goals and objectives of the Project to the participants and we enjoyed name games, icebreakers, energizers and activities that were representative of the drama, music and cultural aspect of the Atelier.
The participants had the opportunity to get to know each other through some fun games and team building activities, such as interviewing each other on a ‘speed date’ mood and then present the other person to the group. We have dealt with the topics of Identity, Home and Integration through methods and approaches such as improvisation, Image Theatre, freeze images, poetry dramatization, dramatized narration and playback theatre.

Methods used in our workshops

Creative writing and storytelling

Through games followed by an insight discussion for reflection, we have established a basic knowledge regarding the structure of a story, the main parts of a plot and how a story may be driven by music in terms of improvisation, narration, parallel action and dramatization. We have also questioned the significance of a name as a part of our identity through activities such as “What’s in a name”, where the participants shared the story of their names, the history and the meaning that a name may carry. Accordingly and in the same frame, the participants shared stories related to an object/lyrics/quotes that are attached to and which expresses them and or symbolizes something for them. The story-sharing activity was then used as the inducement condition for playback theatre and dramatization.

Image Theatre

Exploring the meaning of Home and Identity we have worked based on the Image Theatre method and by using two poems as an incentive. The first poem ‘Xenithkia/Living Away From Home’ by Cypriot poet Pavlos Liasides dealt with fleeing from home and with the attempt to re-root in a foreign land and the second one, ‘Ithaka’ by Costas Cavafy deals with the struggle, the dangers, the adventures and the knowledge that someone gains through the journey towards their final destination. The poems were in audio and translated in English, Arabic, French and Greek and Cypriot dialect. After a discussion on the main meanings and themes of the poems, the participants were introduced to Boal’s Image theatre and were called to form a group image that was then followed by thought tracking and reflection discussion.


Participants work with a wide range of instruments, sounds, computer tools and software (used for the production of sound) with the main objective of exploring the different possibilities of sound and music in the project. At our first meeting an assessment was made of existing musical and vocal skills, with several participants sharing skills such as singing, beatbox, percussion, guitar and keyboard. Discussion and practical workshop exercises are carried out using the voice as a rhythmic instrument through demonstrations on beatbox combined with live percussion jams and improvised singing. We also recorded some sounds to be used as part of the final production. These include vocals, beatbox and ambience/sound effects. At our last two workshops we focused on how to make instruments and sounds out of re-cycled materials and this will feature in the final performance through exercises practiced in workshops. Some exercise have also been conducted with setting music to poetry and storytelling.

Linguistic/Cultural activities

Every Saturday after the drama and music session various visits are organized to art exhibitions, historical and other places of interest, places of cultural and architectural value and generally places of everyday life that are important to young persons’ integration to Cypriot society. At the same time, participation to cultural events is encouraged by group outings. Various artists are also invited to the group session to present their work and inspire the young people. Cooking together and sharing the food is another activity that brings this heterogeneous group together, enhances understanding of each other’s culture and gives the opportunity to each individual to get to know all the participants. Individual needs are also taken into account in planning every single activity; therefore there is an effort to offer as many stimuli as possible and of a wide range. Finally, two day camps and trips are also planned in April, so as to offer intensive training and the opportunity to develop bonding and trust within the group, as well as to get to know Cyprus.

Our Coaches

Haji Mike – Music Coach

Mike is an Associate Professor at The University of Nicosia in the Department of Communications. His PhD was in Cultural Studies at The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) in England. CCCS was an important experience as it defined many aspects of his academic, cultural and political perspectives. Besides being an academic Mike is also a performance poet, recording artist, DJ, radio presenter and freelance writer. These experiences have enhanced and informed his music/creative output, writing and research for the last three decades. Recent publications include an edited volume on ‘Art & Social Justice – The Media Connection’ (Cambridge Scholars 2015); a chapter in ‘Music In Cyprus’ Edited by Samson, J & Demetriou, N (Ashgate, 2015); and co-editing a special issue of the Cyprus Review ‘Media representation and the 2013 financial and political crises in Cyprus’ with Tao Papaioannou. Mike is particularly interested in art and social justice, media literacy, citizen’s media, colonial writing/texts, applied ethnomusicology and the impact of technology on creative musical processes. He also produces two weekly radio shows www.omyrtadio.net and www.greekbeatradio.com; and will be touyring this summer to promote a collaborative CD release with Kingdom Signal in Corsica and Cyprus on The Power of Love Record Label.

Web page: www.hajimike.com

Dora Nikolaou- Drama Coach

Dora Nikolaou, was born in Nicosia, Cyprus. She has studied in Greece, at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, from which she acquired a BSc (Hons) on Theatre Studies. Alongside her studies, she had the opportunity to work as an intern in theatres but also to work as Assistant director. She continued her studies at master’s level at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, obtaining an MSc in European Theatre. She has enriched the knowledge and experience on theatre and drama on the educational, artistic and therapeutic aspect of the field, attending seminars on Creative Drama, Educational Drama, Developmental Theatre, Improvisation and Devised Theatre and has also been trained and specialized in methods such as Theatre of the Oppressed and Drama therapy. Since 2011, she lives and works with groups of children, youth and adults in Cyprus as a theatre and drama teacher/coach through national educational programs and in cooperation with local NGOs.

Zografia Kakarineli- Linguistic Coach

Ζοgrafia is a primary school teacher. She studied pedagogy in Athens University and worked in a very progressive private primary school in Athens for two years and at the same time she taught English in an Institute. Then, she did her Diploma and Master Studies in Psychology in Education in London University and worked as a teacher in multicultural schools in underprivileged areas in the Inner City of London, in parallel with teaching language in Saturday Greek community schools, for six years.
Since 1996, she has been living and teaching in Cyprus. She is now a head teacher in an experimental whole day school. She had also worked for some years as an educational psychologist. She is at the moment a member of Head teachers Union Committee and a volunteer at KISA, where for many years she was organizing and running a multicultural summer school for refugees.
Her special interest and practical work is in Special Needs and she has been working with children with learning difficulties for over 25 years. Finally, she has studies and clinical work of many years in psychoanalysis.


Elena Olympiou: elena.olympiou@kisa.org.cy