Updated News June 2019
Conflict and Trauma: From ‘Shell Shock’ to PTSD and Beyond
Dr Nigel Hunt, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology in the School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, facilitated a fascinating workshop entitled: Conflict and Trauma: From ‘Shell Shock’ to PTSD and Beyond, at Omagh Library on May 22, 2019 on behalf of the Living Legacies First World War Engagement Centre.
The workshop provided an introduction as to how our understanding of trauma has developed over the past century, beginning with the First World War and offered a range of primary sources that can be used in tracing trauma through the archives. Dr Hunt spoke of his experience researching PTSD with veterans from several conflicts from WW2 to recent involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The workshop encouraged participants to think about how they could conduct their own research on trauma and conflict, from the First World War and beyond, particularly as recent commemorations remind us about the aftermath and legacies of conflict on society in Northern Ireland.
Participants came from a variety of backgrounds but most were working in some capacity with mental health and well-being in the local community, including representatives from Fermanagh & Omagh District Council, Tara Centre, Omagh Bomb Victims and community mental health services.
Photo L to R: Margaret Spencer, Director, Tara Centre, Omagh, Dr Nigel Hunt, University of Nottingham, Dr Johanne Devlin Trew, Living Legacies / Ulster University, Dr Roisín Keogh, Clinical Research Professional, Karen Kelly, therapist.
Updated News June 2019
WWI drama workshop in Springfiled primary school
On Monday 3rd June, Living Legacies Project Officer, Dr Michelle Young facilitated a WWI drama workshop with Primary 6 pupils at Springhill Primary School in Belfast. The workshop was part of the Young People’s Learning Hub project by the Centre of Hidden Histories at the University of Nottingham and was attended by the project’s Community Liaison Officer, Edwina Woodland-Fowkes.
The drama workshop was based on ‘The Time Traveller’ workshop created by Dr Young in 2018 as part of a larger project called The Men Behind The Glass. This major restoration, education and community engagement initiative was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and commemorates the WW1 heritage of Campbell College in Belfast. The focus of the initiative was to uncover the school lives and military service of 126 pupils and one member of staff who lost their lives in the war and whose photographs are embedded in the Edwardian wood panelling in the College’s Central Hall. Alongside the preservation and digital restoration of these images, the drama project engaged local Primary Schools with the history of these young men as ‘classmates and comrades’ using creative writing and drama methods.
The drama workshop at Springhill Primary School centred around the life of Robert McConnell who attended Campbell College as a boy and Queen’s University Belfast as a student of English. His story was performed by local actor, Chris Grant and recounted events from this young soldier’s time at school and at war. Pupils were then guided through a series of creative tasks which allowed them to engage with and respond to events in McConnell’s life. The interactive session included the use of techniques such as tableaux and thought-tracking where pupils examined the differences between school now and 100 years ago and life in the trenches.
Pupils also worked in small groups to explore the life story of a WWI soldier and prepare their own dramatic response. Groups were presented with care packages containing a variety of items relating to the life of a soldier on the front line. These included common food stuffs such as Oxo cubes and sweets, essentials of socks and soap and family mementos. Also included were half finished letters to family and friends and pupils became actively engaged in an examination and discussion of these items before completing these letters home.
The workshop finished with each group presenting their ‘soldier’s story’ using the techniques they explored during the first part of the session.
The WWI drama workshop is designed to allow young people to develop and use imaginative ways to access, understand and interpret the past, providing a space for them to conduct their own inquiry based learning. The pupils of Springhill Primary School were thoroughly engaged throughout the workshop and their enjoyment of the session through their engagement with the material was clear to see.
One pupil said, “I didn’t know anything about WW1 before, it was amazing” while another said,
“Learning about the war was interesting and fun”
The Primary 6 teacher, Mrs Janet Smyth said that the session was ' a perfectly planned workshop with real meaning and purpose. The P.6s learnt a great deal in a very short time.’
To View the Time Traveller World War I Drama Workshop Website please click here.