Mozart’s Figaro Helps Children Explore The Sectarian Divide

Primary 7 pupils in two Bangor schools have been exploring sectarianism and bureaucracy whilst becoming familiar with the music of Mozart, in a unique cross-community venture they have termed “The Courage Project”.

The Project is funded by the Integrated Education Fund under its PACT (Promoting a Culture of Trust) scheme.  The two schools have a very long tradition of working together and the project hopes to create a common code which each school will follow when tackling issues surrounding prejudice and sectarianism in the future.

Drama teacher Peter Morgan-Barnes was brought in to devise a show involving pupils and staff at St Malachy’s Primary School and Towerview Primary School.  The result was be fast and funny, bringing children of all backgrounds together in a lively play which uses the music of The Marriage of Figaro to bring modern words to life.  A string quartet was also flown in from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to accompany the performance.

The schools wanted to explore and combat sectarianism in its current form, finding most conflict resolution rooted too far in the past to be relevant to today’s youngsters.  Alan Brown, Principal, Towerview Primary School, Bangor, says “The IEF’s PACT scheme supports activities which bring children from all backgrounds to work collaboratively.  The Courage Project provides pupils with an opportunity to explore the issues surrounding their identities and the identities of others.  This is something which will play a major part in our pupils’ lives as they head out into the wider world.”

While community relations and civil servants may seem beyond the realm of children’s shows the pupils have taken up the challenge enthusiastically and are loving the experience.