Thursday, May 17, 2012

Roma people and they struggle- A proposed project

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Introduction to the

“They travel endlessly and seem to appear almost everywhere, yet they are the worlds most mysterious people Gypsies.” Moreau, 00, pp. This essay is a description of a proposed community theatre project to be held in Sarajevo (former Yugoslavia) in August next year, touring through Europe and hopefully ending up in Australia.

Gypsies or Roms continue to be excluded from our society both culturally and economically throughout the entire world. This isolation is hardly hidden. Assault and harassment as well as ignorance of this community’s situation continues to be accepted and unaddressed (first article). This project aims at tackling this issue of dislocation, celebrating their culture as well as communicating the hardships of their lives. It will combine tragedy and comedy, realism and fantasy, dance and music, as well as many other talents of these people, giving them an opportunity to be proud of their culture and history and tell their stories to the rest of the world.

Firstly, the essay will outline a brief background and history of the gypsies, looking closely at their way of life and challenges they face. This particular section will help justify the purpose of this project. Then, an artistic plan will be outlined describing, in detail the style and character of the performance as well as the involvement of the Roms in the project. A production plan outline will also be included with information about expected size, duration, and attendance of the project as well as an initial project budget. Next, some of the effects and details of audiovisual technology will be outlined in an attempt to create a picture of the project. Finally, the philosophy of the project will be discussed with a deep focus on the rationale and evidence of its capability to be a success.

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History, background and lifestyle

In justifying the purpose of this project, it is worth introducing the history and facts of Romani people and the uniqueness of their culture. Although this is arguable, evidence indicates that Roms originate from India. Their first destination from India, in 10th century, was what became Former Yugoslavia. Latest statistics show that Gypsies occupy 0.04% of Former Yugoslavia with a population of 41 000. Throughout their history in this region, Gypsies suffered from varying levels of persecution and racial discrimination. It is reported that even local governments participated in harassment and intimidation, not to mention the discrimination in employment, education and social services.

Their living conditions are beyond any human standards and their appearance reveals their hardships, mere struggle for survival and acute malaise. Imagine broken down caravans and clusters of precarious and crumbling shacks, thrown together from material scavenged from dump heaps, in which children cry awaiting a never known destiny of being sold to another family or busking on streets with no education. This is what the message of Gypsies looks like (see Appendix 1). This is a social emergency and must be treated as such. (first article)

Many people cease to care about this urgency due to the incorrect belief that Gypsy people are not trying hard enough to progress. For example, research shows that Gypsy children do not attend school on a regular basis and their attention span is very short causing their behaviour to be disruptive. This in turn creates adults that do not have an education and do not have the skills to pursue a career and create stability. The Gypsies owe this to their culture. It is passed on verbally from one generation to the next. Their tradition is about learning from stories told by their ancestors and telling them to their children. This is how they learn essentials of life and what it is about. School, to them is like “Utopia”. They do not understand such a way of learning, or the point to knowing arithmetic, grammar and science when everything that we need is provided by mother earth. Hence they find it difficult to adapt to this environment.

Secondly, they are usually discriminated against and teased by other children causing general discontent and dislike of school, which leads to a lack of attendance. Gypsy children are used to spending their time outdoors, looking after the younger children, singing, dancing, playing instruments or looking for ways to earn money for some food for the day. Concentration involved in school tasks is foreign to them. In desperation to keep this beautiful culture in existence with all its colours, they are reluctant to adapt to the “civilised” way of life. They continue their lives in their tents and huts that merely protect them from the rain but regardless, they are a much more welcoming home (Mirga 17, pp).

This way of life means that they can only support themselves by begging, fortune telling and performing arts. Although some Gypsy families are involved in some kind of trade, many engage in criminal activities in an attempt to make ends meet. However their talents have formed an important part of Europe. It certainly added a unique element to the Yugoslavian culture. The movie “Time of the Gypsies” by Emir Kusturica depicts some of the talents and assets given to Yugoslav culture by the Roms. This project will aim to create awareness of these assets amongst Yugoslav people encouraging an appreciation of this culture.

It is inevitable to consider that a community theatre project may not solve the problem or improve the living conditions of gypsies in Sarajevo or anywhere in the world. But at its worst, it will answer the many cries of Gypsy people and allow them to celebrate their culture with pride. This in itself gives this project a deep meaning, the performers motivation and the Gypsy community a hopeful willingness to participate.

Artistic Plan (see page 70)

This project aims to explore a theme that is experienced by every person regardless of culture. Love is a universal theme, time resistant, and everyone understands its intensity and capability. Telling a love story through Gypsy eyes will enable the rest of the world to realise how essentially, we are all the same. The story aims to show a glimpse of the soul of a discarded race � of joy and mourning, of transgression and human decency- a compassionate portrait of Roms. Gypsy love stories have unique qualities that almost resemble the quality of Shakespearean love stories. They are a combination of beauty, sensuality, tragedy, comedy, action, insanity, poverty, politics and many other issues Kusturica, 18. The story in this project will attempt to incorporate these components to arrive at a true spectacle. Cameron, 1 suggests that issues in theatre are not developed by theatre professionals, instead they emerge from real life (pp68.). Extensive plot and storyline will be left up to the community members to tell and the style of this show will concentrate on delivering their life in a theatrical way.

In order to truly deliver the life of Gypsies in a theatrical way to people, it is only obvious that it should be placed outside. As Cameron indicates, (pp7), this means that it will have to look at successfully delivering the show outside and hence using techniques that will make it effective. The show will include large scale images, in particular fire sculptures floating on water and Gypsy Festivals where crowds of Roms bathe in water using fire for light, heat and in this case a beautiful scene (see Appendix a). Setting, costumes and props will depict scenery from Gypsy camps. The show will also utilise specific talents that are discovered during workshops and incorporate them into the production in form of Circus and Stunts which are, as indicated by Cameron, 1, (pp7), are also an effective outdoor technique.

Cameron, 1 (pp7) also suggests that music is “the central and living art”. Gypsies are very loyal to their music and instruments, which they sometimes describe as the “mirrors to their souls” (Kusturica). They are famous for their musical abilities, but many people may not be aware of the extent of this acumen. Many music production companies actually perform trials of music within the Gypsy community to see if music they are considering marketing is going to sell. It doesn’t matter if it is pop music, or classical, or folk; if the Gypsies respond well to it, the music company knows it will be a hit. Gypsies love to play the violin and accordion, as well as some of the Gypsy instruments - the cümbüº, a type of mandolin with a metal case, the klarinet, and the darbuka (Voss, 00). While their instruments may not be as refined as those used by a philharmonic orchestra, their music is often world class and can touch the soul of the listener with beautiful stories told through them. It is only sensible then to make music a major part of this production. The stories will therefore be told through song and dance rather than through a written script which should be rather simple to achieve as it is quite obviously their expertise .

Community Involvement

In order to achieve the above picture extensive we will approach a Gypsy camp in Sarajevo where most Roms reside. Getting people together should not be difficult as most Roms would love an opportunity to participate in an artistic project. Cameron, 1, (pp74) argues that a few people are apathetic when there is an opportunity for them to express themselves in an enjoyable way. There will be no audition as there will be no script until the end. Rather, people’s talents and strengths will be observed and the project will be built around this.

A set of workshops will be run with enthusiastic people and those who are willing to take a part. The workshops will not be limited to Roms, instead anyone interested in the culture will be welcomed. Help will be needed with administration and organization hence any help offered will not be rejected. Therefore the community with The show l end with a destruction of the scenery and the set.The story will provide a lyrical glimpse into an exotic, obscure culture, a tragedy of lost innocence, and a reaffirmation of love and family.

Production Plan (see page 56 Fire n Water)

As mentioned above, the show will take place outside. The nature of the show will eliminate many problems associated with an outdoor show. No lighting equipment will be needed as fire will be used. However power generators will be needed for sound amplification. Equipment will need to be protected and insured. If it happens to rain, we will try and use it to the show’s advantage. It will further add to the reality of their living conditions and discomfort. The audience, on the other hand will be under shelter.

Although the show will tour, there will be only one performance in each country. Cameron, 1 (pp58) suggests that a single show can reach a lot of people and allows organisers to concentrate all resources on that show.

The Touring Gypsy Festival will begin on April 16th which is the St George celebration � a major Gypsy celebration. It will take place outdoors and will use weather to its advantage. The show duration will not exceed 1 hour and will be repeated twice a day in each location. The tour will begin in Sarajevo where we will become aquainted with the community from the gypsy camp and work on putting the show together. The journey will continue through Italy, Turkey and Romania throughout which our group will hopefully grow and we will involve people from these parts also. Finally, the complete troupe will travel to Australia (provided there is sufficient support) where the show will be repeated in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. We will tour in carriages similar to the ones in (appendix) and thereby symbolise the neverending journey of Gypsies and every person in search for oneself and survival. The nature of the show will also evoke the feeling of displacement allowing this community to express their lifesyles in the way. At the end of each show, the set will be destroyed by a crane that will lift it in the air and dum it into one of the carriages.

It is expected that the audience in Australia especially will be quite substantial. We may face problems of venue as it will require presence of water and fire.

Work Breakdown Structure


Most of the Funds for the project will come from UNICEF, Roma Rights Centre and World Union of Romanies who will sponsor the show. Rajko Djurie, the president of World Union of Romanies said that the organization would be more than happy to fund such an interesting project and is looking forward to its impact on the Gypsy community as well as the community they are amongst. Please see appendix for closer details about the Cost and Expenditure.

Effects and Technical Information

Lighting- fire � no artificial lighting- outdoor performance

Sound- amplified

Special Effects

Fire on Water � Lit up � celebration of St George-

Performance on water � dam.

Philosophy of the Project

The possibility of complete failure of this project is inevitable. The issue is sensitive, and there is a chance of the Roms unwillingness to participate or to participate completely. However with careful planning of the structure and timing of the show, the chances of its success increase. Cameron (1) in Fire on the water describes a project where they examined “the community’s rhythm” so that the show was timed in order to attract a wide range of audience (pp6). In addition, the show was designed so that they did not rely on the story because different members of the audience would arrive at different times. The show had an exciting story but was divided in clear and related parts.

As mentioned above, the themes will be universal portraying the similarity of this community to other communities yet, its neverending inability to be understood and to fit in. This should make the story come alive, its magic touching the souls of many people especially at a time when this part of the world is experiencing hardship recovering from war and political instability. Cameron (1) describes this technique as an “Everyman” theme (pp7). He also indicates that stories about birth, love, death and individual’s struggle in the community they live in is the essential themes that interest people. These can be found and built up in the workshops (pp68 � 6)

He also suggests that touring shows involve a lot of work and hence it is important to slow down and take things one step at a time (7).

Also, the approach of the community would be informal and less publicised because these people are used to prosecution and mistreat, they are probably unlikely to trust that the project will benefit them in any way. Cameron suggests that a public meeting is not an effective way of canvassing local views for an arts project and that he personally prefers approaching the community informally. He adds that it is important to search for the real representatives.

Overall the project will act as a political practice that works towards social justice and change by influencing the government of each country to come up with a solution for this minority group that are in urgent need for help and assistance. It will also seek of the communities that surround the Roms to be less reluctant to accept them as a part of their home country and begin to understand and appreciate their culture. Through its story, it will reflect and validate the reality of experience of the Roms. Finally it will provide a channel for them to express their culture and identity by allowing them to participate and tell their story.


APPENDIX 1(a)- These pictures show the conditions that Roma live in. gypsy/photoind.htm new/people/str/str.htm � Begging for money



Above left, mother with a child begging for Saying goodbye to family/

money to feed her child. And friends who are probably

being sold for slavery. Romania/Roma/Roma.htm


Above Home to a Gypsy family

Below Destruction of Gypsy homes in Italy approved by the government. field1.shtml

APPENDIX (a) � Gypsies Celebrate -Not much else to do but sing, dance and celebrate

This is a Gypsy Festival “Djurdevdan”. Everyone bathes and sings in the water using fire as a means of heating as well as to create this beautiful effect. kinoeye14_horton.html

APPENDIX (b) � Gypsies dancing

www.beotel.yu/~lala/ cigani.html gypsies-istanbul-turkey.htm kinoeye14_horton.html

APPENDIX � Poem by Isabel Fonsenca

The time of the wandering Gypsies

Has long passed. However, I see them,

They are bright,

Strong and clear like the water.

You can hear it


When it wishes to speak.

But poor thing it has no speech . . .

...the water does not look behind.

It flees, runs further away.

Where eyes will not see her,

The water that wanders .

Isabel Fonseca, Bury Me Standing, op. cit., pp. 4-5.


Revenue Source Cash Donation Inkind Total

Local Government FundingBosnia, Turkey, Italy, RomaniaTotal 10,000 10,000

SponsorsAirlines (Jat, Qantas)HotelsTotal 4,000 ,000 6,000

Philanthropic Trusts and FundsPhilanthropic Soros Foundation World Union of Romanies Roma Right Centre The Gypsy Research Centre Total 1,000 5,000 5,000 6,000 8,000

Special FundProject Donation HotlineTotal 5,000 5,000

AudienceContribution Fee (4shows @ 100people x $,00 AU (or equiv.)DonationTotal 7,00 ,000 ,00

Other Sources of IncomeVolunteersDonated Props, costumes and InstrumentsMedia PublicityTotal 5,000 1,000 ,000 8,000



Expense Amount Total Expense

Travelling ExpensesReturn AirfaresTrain and Bus FaresAccommodationTotal 8,000 1,000 6,000 15,000

Venue ExpensesRehearsal HallOtherTotal 800 600 1,400

Equipment Expenses Crane Instruments Hire Amplification Firesticks Other Total 8,000 1,000 ,000 00 ,000 1,00

Costumes, Makeup and Props ExpensesCostumes and Makeup Tents Rugs Begging Baskets Other Total 00 00 100 100 500 1,100

Tools ExpenseSetting Up ToolsTotal 500 500

Gypsy Wagon HireApprox total hire costTotal ,000 ,000

Insurance ExpenseTravellers Insurance Workers Compensation Equipment Insurance Total 1,000 ,000 500 ,500

Security ExpensesGuards during each showTotal ,000 ,000

Wages and FeesDirector Other AdministrationTotal 5,000 5,000 00 10,00

Post Show Expenses Volunteer and Participant after partySponsor package and attention (media)Total 1,000 1,000 ,000

Publicity (10%)MediaOtherTotal ,000 ,000 5,000

Contingencies (10%)MiscellaneousTotal 5,000 5,000



Activity Revenue Expenditure

Revenue Sources

Local Government Funding 10,000

Sponsorship 6,000

Philanthropic Funds 8,000

Special Fund 5,000

Audience ,00

Other Revenue 8,000

Total Revenue 66,00


Travelling Expenses 15,000

Venue Expenses 1400

Equipment Expenses 1,00

Costumes, Makeup and Props 1,100

Tools 500

Gypsy Wagon ,000

Insurance ,500

Security ,000

Wages 10,00

Post Show Expenses ,000

Publicity 5,000

Contingencies 5,000

Total Expenditure 61,000



It’s a Gypsies’ world � project breakdown structure

Director Show Coordination

Travelling Sponsorship Project Philanthrop. Research & Publicity Show And Management Funds Admin Accommodation Proposal etc

Flight Tickets Proposal Plan Proposal Treasuring Media Set Relations DesignOther Tickets Package Schedule Communi- Letters PR Sound Cation DesignDiscount Hunt Communi- Reminder Collection Mailing & Posters& Stage Cation Networks Website CrewHotel Book Collection Timetable Contact Research Sponsors Makeup,& check in Involvemnt. costumesTimetables Recruitment Props Staff Info & Lighting details Design Survey prep Fire & analysis Design Work- shops Story Venue PERSON A PERSON B PERSON C PERSON D PERSON E PERSON F PERSON A,b,c,d,e,f

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