Constructive Empathy and Creative Encounters

Partners: Thomas Whitham Sixth Form, Burnley; Merchant Taylor’s School, Liverpool; Belle Vue ProductionsGroup work with the mummy portraits

Constructive Empathy and Creative Encounters: Bringing to Life the Politics of Identity in Roman-period Egypt, North Africa, Syria, and Turkey, 8th July 2013 explores stories of conflict involving ‘radical adolescents’ and their bewildered parents from the surprising perspective of ancient texts and objects (particularly the Manchester Museum’s marvelous collections). An 8th July workshop at the Museum invited AS-level students to engage playfully with the ancient version of the ‘parent problem’, through creative writing and the production of short videos. Students explored different points of view in ancient family dramas by writing and performing first-person speeches re-telling the stories through the eyes of different characters. Viewing the Museum’s mummy portraits –realistic “death masks” from Roman-period Egyptian sarcophagi– helped them consider the differences between characters in stories and real people. The speeches were filmed by filmmakers based at the University of Manchester who also led a workshop on peer-to-peer filming. The Empathy Project page of our website contains a “rogues’ gallery” of talking heads, showing how stories look very different when told from multiple points of view (Empathy Project).

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