A couple of thoughts today:
1) We did a lot of work with eyes closed this morning, including an exercise in which participants would take it in turns to lead their partners on a blind (eyes closed) journey around the space. During this game I became acutely aware that as one part of my engagement grew more hesitant, another sensitivity emerged. This shift in my manner of perceiving and interacting with the journey I was being led through was very exciting.
It was initially harder to follow these more latent instincts, and often an apparently superficial or rational thought/feeling would interject and cause both trust in my partner and my ease of movement to falter. Once I stopped overthinking things and accepted the situation the game became very fun and I experienced a new sense of freedom through the constraint of blindness.
I'm curious as to how we can become empowered by accepting our given (perhaps otherwise negative) circumstances and remaining positive and responsive to how our own mind and body adapts - finding new strength in the cards we are dealt.
2) Luckily, my most memorable childhood trauma appears to be the bit where Mickey Mouse gets hit by a broomstick in Fantasia. Probably a combination of Mickey's anticipation of punishment, the return of a glaring wrathful god figure (the sorcerer), and the dramatic build-up towards a musical sting.
Guilt, omnipotence, judgement and vengeance all seem very Old Testament but there you go. Again, issues of sight and visibility return. I especially remember being afraid of the wizard's huge eyes.
This afternoon I lead a workshop (my first ever in French, with quite a lot of support from the multilingual group) and the material we dug up: the colour of fear and the prejudice of black, toys to crunch and flip and throw, teddies and dolly’s in brothers clothes, different cultures – different sleeping arrangements, opening doors to discussions of fear. I want to talk about the dirt in the corner but I think it’s more useful to document the workshop plan. That dirt can wait in the corner - the workshop plan follows below.
We passed an imaginary ball around the circle, adding detail to the object as we handled it - colour, material durability - the ball morphed as we went along. (Introduced a workshop theme of dealing with imaginary, objects of a plastic nature, began to play together and as I was a little anxious I wanted to start the workshop on familiar ground.
Ball Throwing Patterns
Warm-up continues we built two throwing circuits that balls could be passed along – building on Senza’s classic warm-up. Participants could move around the space and the patterns and movement between us grew bolder. I added an element of drama, if the ball was dropped we should stop and when the time was ‘right’ the ‘right’ person would pick up the ball holding the dramatic tension the ball drop and sudden halt in the space had created. Uninvited came an element of competition, is drama necessarily conflict? The impulse was strong in some to disrupt and their play was to challenge. Resist or tow the line and profit from the installed system?
Our Childhood Toys
Each in turn describing and handling our favorite childhood toys imagined in front of us, passing It to another to place carefully on the bench. I wanted to evoke the openness, playfulness and robust acceptance of a child in play for the rest of our session. I had explicitly mentioned this earlier and maybe that was a mistake as participants were slightly edging towards an infantile state of mind and ‘playing’ kids rather than just accessing that openness and responsive imagination I was looking for.
In pairs, participants walked each other through their imagined child ood room. Pointing out the hiding places, clothes storage and where they thought monsters lived. It looked like it was more fun to recount than to listen to someone recounting. I thought this could be a sneaky way to increase feelings of intimacy, and share a little more info about the different cultures, and reveal a little perhaps about our own habits that we had previously considered ‘normal’.
0.5 mins of free writing on our own monster or place of fear from our past. I was the only one who was scared of an actual monstrous figure. We drew the idea. This lead to a longer discussion than I had anticipated but some deepish thinking around fear in a new context so I let it go on.
Past fear Impros
Using the material generated from the automatic writing we put on stage a mélange of ideas in a semi improvised performance. The effect was striking. Encouragement to take time lead the performers to really hold an interesting space where fear was felt and it held that slightly imaginary energy I am pleased with that.
In small groups a Tunisian lead the others through a physical map of Tunisia, they used the rectangular shape of the room as the rough form of the country and pointed out physically and vocally the geographical and cultural points of importance. The two out of town Senzas then tried to recreate the information they had learned in an improvised performance. It was interesting.
Mapping the Medina
In small groups we tried to make an illustrated map of the Medina, the intension was to create symbols places of note. There is a lot to get in there though. We can build on this?
Turning the basement of Dar Rosa into a rehearsal studio.
Dusty carpets and a well fed cat. Water bottles on puffs. Cleaning by flooding. Broomstick broken by eager male company member. Le planning is on its way.
Quick lunch venture into Mutuelleville, nothing food useful for ages. Eventually kafteji and freshly squeezed orange juice, y3yshek.
Waiting in the sun for our Tunisian collaborators. We went to Lecoq so we are all wearing black. Fear that nobody will show up. Then Nour arrives. He tells us all theatre styles are being tested in Tunisia, theatre makers are searching, exploring. In May 2011, the year of the revolution, he was in a performance with actors with very different political visions of the future. Le festin des rats, it was called. Reminded me of Elo telling us yesterday over dinner that a friend of hers had to go through an "exposure to rats" therapy process to get rid of her phobia of rats. Rats were gradually introduced into her life: she had to see a photo of a rat one day, then stick a photo of a rat behind her phone, and after gradually building up the rat presence in her sensory world she finally got to touch one without being afraid of it. Medicalisation of fear. Rationalised steps to getting over fears.
Mouin also joins us and we begin the work session. All nervous at first so speaking fast, not giving each other much time to react, trying to get exercises "right". Later manage to find together a way to all come to a run and then come to a stop as a group. Exploration of the space that for the next two weeks will become our studio. Each found a place within it where they feel happiest and a place where they feel least comfortable. Among the former: lying on a colourful carpet, standing relaxed in the light close to the centre of the room, sitting wide legged looking at the entrance. Among the latter: crumpled in a door frame, standing in a corner taking up very little space, squatting next to a radiator, sitting on the edge of a cold cement seat. Bodies were much smaller when it was a disliked space, they stuck to the corners, in darker and sweatier places. All were quick to move out of the uncomfortable spaces they had picked out for themselves.
Automatic writing in our own languages related to fear: rat, stuck, fuire, pipi.
What energy carries you through the walk towards a place you know will be uncomfortable/a place you know you will not like staying in? What comes before uttering a word of fear?
Meeting J in the Circolo Italiano. We need membership cards to get into the Circolo now, its a new rule. Security man looking more pro than usual. Forgot to tell the others that carrying their passports with them might be a good idea. The Circolo was empty. We asked J to give us tips of strategies for recording interviews. J said in her experience if someone doesn't want their voice to be recorded there is no point in insisting, they are just going to feel uncomfortable. Be careful of "le plop", listen to what you are recording through headphones to avoid saturation. If you know in advance that someone has agreed to be interviewed and for their voice to be recorded then press play before the interview has begun, to catch all those ambience noises that could make that world come to life were you to hear it (the opening for the front door, the coffee machine in the kitchen). As J's teacher said, "ça doit être agréable à écouter", so look out for all those noises that might turn the incredible things someone is saying into something you don't want to be listening to. In her experience women don't tend to be very open to the idea of answering questions in French and being recorded. Like women in France as well, women generally are more reticent than men to having their voices recorded, more apprehensive about saying things they might regret or things they are not a hundred percent sure about.
I’m interested in Exposure therapy ---Keep a picture of a rat as your home screen --- God made Jin from fire and man from clay --- Fear of a wedding march and fear of attack, can they be the same emotion? --- The man in the library is the reference for all of our stories --- Fear was somehow involved in all great things that have happened --- The night time wanderer --- goat fighting --- when doing a handstand, he doesn’t have to think about exposing his stomach, I do --- The way they all lean in and say, “mais c’est pas dangeroux?” --- C’est que les mec when the sun goes down --- the Straight roads are the safe roads in Tunis --- it’s a ghost town when the sun goes down --- dynamics of a dominant language --- If I have to insist it’s never going to work --- when in the street, lower the volume and approach --- press record before you have even gone in the building --- and the place has filled up, and its all men.
Woh c'est passé vite !
Ce matin on a installé le lieux comme on voulait on a même pu se créer différents espaces de travail, un pour le mouvement, un pour le travail a la table et un pour on sait pas trop quoi encore mais pour se lire des choses peut être ou écrire...
On a commencé le travail en groupe cet après-midi, c'est super de travailler avec des gens qu'on connait pas et c'est fou de se dire que grâce a ça dans une semaine on les connaîtra vachement mieux et d'une façon très spéciale car le théâtre c'est toujours spécial je pense.
On s'est échauffer tranquille puis on a fait des exercices de concentrations et d'écoute et même avec les choses les plus simple en fait on voit qu'on peut quand même traiter de la peur. Le truc par rapport a l'espace ou on se sent bien et celui ou on se sent pas bien m'a fait pensé a la peur a comment tu l'évites et tu va la ou t'es bien et comment tu la surmonte et tu vas quand même la ou t'es pas bien.
Comme quoi avec des choses simple on peut parler d'un thème très grand et complexe.
Apres on a rencontré Justine journaliste a Tunis, elle nous a donné plein de conseils pour les interviews qu'on veut faire et comment utiliser le son et nos appareils.
On est pas les plus doués en technologie en plus donc c'est parfait!
Today Valentina led a short spatial sensitivity exercise in our new rehearsal space.
We first had to find a position in the room in which we felt most comfortable. Safe and at ease.
Next, we had to search for a different place, this time somewhere which made us feel afraid. At risk or uncomfortable.
In both positions we took some time to note what different factors played into us feeling particularly safe or frightened. We then moved between the two, feeling the different stages of our response during the transition between both areas.
What I found particularly interesting about this exercise was that, despite the fact that our rehearsal room is a very welcoming space (I do not find it inherently "scary"), this task to search for a place in which we are most frightened revealed very clear elements of primal fear, contained within the "everyday".
- I noticed that several people's "space of fear" was in one of the darker areas of the room, due to the angled ceiling lights which illuminated the central space whilst casting shadow into the corners.
- Many people also turned their backs to the rest of the group (ie. facing into a corner) in a way which not only limited their view, but left them very vulnerable to anyone or anything else in the room.
- Both myself and Elodie chose a particularly dirty spot to look at, and I felt as though the filth was a big trigger to a more instinctive sense of discomfort and disgust. This is something which takes on new dimensions when you focus in on it, and a stain or patch of dirt fills your whole field of vision.
- I sat very close to a locked door through which a continuous mechanical/electrical hum emanated. This unknown and unverifiable sound soon became both a source of frustrated curiosity, and unease.
Something that also came to my attention was that there can be an interesting overlap between the places that make us afraid, and the positions we move to when we are afraid. For example: if we restrict our view by turning to face into a corner or covering our eyes, does this lack of sight not perpetuate our feelings of fear? If we brace ourselves or curl up into a ball, do we not become hypersensitive, tense or even more vulnerable?