June delights, Vienna and Romania trainings

June saw me spring from place to place, going to Vienna and subsequently Romania in a matter of weeks for two very different training courses. Here’s a (very) brief update on these two events:

The first, in Vienna, was for part of a larger project on ‘Movements, Journeys…’, funded in part by Youth in Action. This stage of the project, was a training culminating in a street demonstration, the project entitled: ‘Invalid Street’. In Vienna, there is a street holding this name which campaigners have been trying to change, seeing it as offensive to those with disabilities. This project brought together several art forms: drumming, madalena, forum theatre, graffiti art and Danceability, with participants completing various workshops and bringing skills learnt from these to the final demonstration. I was in the Danceability group.

Having never done Danceability I was, of course, apprehensive. I have done dancing from childhood and go to Salsa classes when I can, locally. But this seemed like nothing else I had done before: improvisational dance. The group varied in ability, to complete beginner to professional dancers, and from those with severe impairment to movement to those with little or none. What was created during the week, was a beautiful group atmosphere, thanks to the energy of the trainer, Vera, and the chance to explore what is meant by movement and what it means to us, as individuals. Danceabilities focus on what is possible for each individual, allows for freedom to explore potentials, rather than seeing deficiency. The exercises beginning from relaxation into free dance, to working with balance and counter balance, weight transfer, gradually built over the week as participants gained in confidence. On the street, we danced as a group, wheelchair users and non wheelchair users together, alongside each other, most importantly, using touch, not just with the chair but with the person in it, a new experience for most of the group and something which I think touched most of us deeply. As well as exploring issues of disability and removing negative attitudes to disability and inclusion, the week invited positive self reflection on our own bodies, how we use them and connect with other individuals- disability or none. 

From this training, I had a short time to recover, before finding myself in Romania, in quite a different scenario-from the bustle of a European city, to the outskirts of a quiet town with greenery all around. This was for Rainbow of Desire training, part of Augusto Boal’s ammunition in dealing with Oppression through using Theatre as a tool for social action. Rainbow of Desire (RoD), calls for more personal reflection than Boal’s previous Theatre of the Oppressed work. This training was a much more intense and emotional experience for all, as participants offered up stories and took on their inner ‘demons’, ‘cops in the head’ or ‘masks’, and explored the reasons for some of their behaviour in social situations, and exploring how certain internal oppressions manifest themselves in our everyday lives. It seems that Boal was trying to reason that until we deal with our own inner ‘cops’ we, as actors or facilitators cannot, perhaps, help others in dealing with their oppressions. The week was certainly enlightening for me and I hope I can take the experiences further forward, so far, it seems to be working ok! At the end of the training several participants including myself were given the opportunity to facilitate one of Boal’s techniques, gaining direct hands on experience of the facilitators role. What came to the fore for me, was the responsibility I felt in this role in looking after the Antagonist (the person who has offered up their story) and in being the eyes and ears of the theatre on stage and off: I saw far more of the audiences responses in this role and suddenly understood a connection to work earlier in the week on sensitisation. Connections were made for me, between other areas such as Sensory Labyrinth Theatre, and the need of actors to be sensitised to the theatre environment. 

With much to think on, on these areas, I am still processing my thoughts. Perhaps I can add a more detailed response in a week or two, after some more careful thought. This is a very brief outline of the two trainings, and it is often the difficulty of putting these things into words which can frustrate us, in not wanting to dumb down the experiences and knowledge which has been given. 


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