Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Jokers began our session today by giving us a recap on all the exercises that we did yesterday. They had created an outline of the process that we went through yesterday. This was incredibly helpful for all of the students. It allowed us the opportunity to practice Jokering the exercises we had done. This process allowed us to see-identify the deficiencies in our techniques. The group chimed in and assisted the acting Jokers if they needed any assistance in the process. After this we followed up on a piece of forum theatre that we began yesterday.

This process began with the gifted and charming Barbara Santos asking us to pair up and share a story with one another. After we shared our stories she asked us to select one story. Then we joined another pair and shared stories as well. We then again chose one story and the group which has now grown to a total of four people merge with another group of four and share the selected stories and choose one. Ultimately this turned into three groups of eight people.

She assigned each group three different tasks. One group of people were responsible for creating a dramatic space. This space would be divided into three smaller spaces. The second space would be where the conflict in the story is manifested. The first space would be a short time before the climactic moment and the third would be the outcome. I realize this must sound very complex but hopefully the photos give you a sense of the work. I must say that Barbara gave us some great insight into the relationship of space and objects within a space before hand. She then told us that some members of the group would be responsible for painting the chosen story in three segments with the same instructions that applied to the dramatic space. Finally the person whose story was chosen would be responsible for creating a poem about the story. I have never experienced this process before in the development of forum theatre -- it is metaphoric, symbolic, poetic, and does not depend on literal-verbal words, indeed we are encouraged to think through symbols.

The Jokers have been slowly developing our skills in a wonderful progressive manner. Yesterday we learned to communicate through image theatre. Today's focus was learning to communicate through the dramatic space, the use of painting, and finally the incorporation of verbal language through a poem. What I loved about this process is that although we were a team we were not allowed to speak to the members which worked on the different tasks. Our communication was to be free of the others' influences. When the products were manifested they were presented in installments. Barbara asked the group to interpret what they had seen. I must mention that no one knew the stories the other groups had. It was great to hear how students interpreted the dramatic space. How they picked up on the messages that we wanted to convey. Then she allowed the artwork to be incorporated into the space. Asked us to observe how this changed the interpretation of the "story" the space was telling. She didn't tell us what to think, she urged the students to create their own stories based on their own perception and interpretation of the work. The final step was the actual verbal communication of the poem. This allowed people to understand the piece better and it it was great for them to see how close they were to the original story.

This step by step process allowed students to understand how people's interpretations of things change as elements are added to the work. The step by step progression of the piece was so revealing. I feel that we have learned so much from the Jokers in such a little time. These hands-on techniques are so much more revealing than any book could possibly do. They give us just enough information for us to absorb and internalize.

Tomorrow will be an extremely busy day for us as we head out to tour the "Favellas" in the morning, head to CTO in the afternoon and go to a Samba spot with Julian and the Jokers in the evening. Julian is leaving our program tomorrow but it has been so inspiring having him with us -- he is an inspirational, and very generous individual.

The pictures on this page speak more than I could possibly explain. Sorry if it sounds too abstract, but we all got it -- you need to be here!
Tomorrow Cornelius will help me attempt a new form of blogging where we can incorporate some video of the process!
Viva Augusto Boal!

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