In harmony with the group: building connections through theatre

«I remember this guy, he was attending this physical theatre class, he was like: oh my god, what am I doing here?! He couldn’t move any part of his body. So for him, creativity was a bizarre thing.

At one point, I saw him moving through the room, finally in harmony with the entire group. I was standing there, looking at him, looking at how he changed his expression. It was incredible.»

Theatre – Creative Commons

She’s Miriam. She comes from Germany, but now she lives in Greece.

After completing her studies in Theater Education, she started working on projects that involved theatre groups from different backgrounds, from kids to people with disabilities. I’ve tried to find out more about her interest in theatre: as soon as I asked her when it started, I was surprised by her answer.

«Until my 21st birthday, I didn’t like to watch theatre plays. The plays were too abstract. I was not getting it. Theater made me uncomfortable. I thought if this is the theatre, I’m not interested.

Then back in school, in 10th grade, I attended one theatre class, but I wouldn’t say I liked it because it was structured. So then, I did an internship abroad for half a year in a small theatre company. After this experience, I decided to study theatre education. 

Group activity on stage – Creative Commons

Along with my professional development, I’ve discovered that there is no wrong or good way to teach theatre. It always depends on the aim. For example, when I want people to participate in something and be responsible for what they do, I have to let them be part of the project. If I take all the decisions on my own, they’re not going to feel part of it. But if we do that in a shared process, it takes more responsibility for the whole group. So it’s essential to give people responsibilities.»

How do you give people responsibilities? I asked.

«Well, let’s say there are rehearsals and people sometimes are not attending. If you give them tasks, like in the next rehearsal, you will try this scene, or a person will do this, you let them feel needed in this process. Having this feeling of being part of a group is one of the most important things. Still, since you work with people from different environments with cultural differences, you have to find common ground and offer a way of communication to get here. It can be done with feedback or highlighting some specific moment.»

And what about feelings? Theatre is well known for giving space to self-expression. And how else can you express yourself if not through your senses?

So I’ve decided to give her some specific words and asked her how she relates these words with theatre. The first word is fear.

Fear

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«Wayward emotions. Generally, in theatre, you work a lot with emotions; often, you have characters who are not you, at least mostly not. But you explore this fear and try to find a connection with the characters’ fears. By walking through emotions, you could find an expression. But you should always know your role; otherwise, you’ll take the risk of crossing the border.

In my opinion, I’m here as a facilitator, not as a therapist. Sometimes it can be triggering because you see the personal development of someone. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot create bonds with people or help them, but If you’re attending a theatre class, you’re not going to a therapist. I feel a responsibility for this.»

Journey

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«A theatre group is never the same at the beginning and the end of a theatre play or a training course. There is always a circle, even for short time workshops. And you have development, always through time, and people grow together because we all have the same goal. But, then, some relationships might stay, and some might not know when a theatre group is done. However, when they meet again, it’s amazing. Even after a long time because you’ve created a bond. And it’s fun.»

Words

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«Even though I love to play with words in theatre, everything else is way more important. Everything around gives me a stronger meaning.»

Learn

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«You decide what you want to learn. I worked a lot of times on a specific topic, creating all together with the play, and I let people choose what they wanted to learn inside the topic. It’s a good way to let people motivate or find out what they want to work for. Especially in theatre, because you can learn about your potential. Otherwise, learning becomes like in school, and for some, it could be boring because some of them could have had some bad experiences at school.»

After hearing these words and understanding how working in this field leads to critical reflections, one specific last question came to my mind: I’ve decided to give her this previous impulse.

What’s your quest in theatre?

“Theater can be a way to express yourselves, and it is to me. But if you ask me what MY quest is in theatre, well… I’d probably say the joy of creating together, even when people are not that experienced, this is what I love. The co-creation process. I think that’s my quest.» 

Post Author: Roberto Gentile

Passionate about storytelling and content creation, curious of what scares me, lover of people's stories. Here at Balkan Hotspot to make my contribution sharing stories with all means necessary. Stay tuned!

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