Category Archives: Blog

Richard Julian’s testimony about EcoDharma

Richard Julian’s testimony EcoDharma

My experience of supporting the Theatre of the Opressed Course at EcoDharma was fun, rewarding and full of learning. I was bought on to the team because of my experience as an outdoor educator working to connect children and teens with nature. As a team of facilitators we tried, and I think succeeded, to weave deep nature connection with the games and techniques of Agusto Boal. I believe this gave the participants, and facilitators, a chance to reflect and integrate. To explore themes of societal and personal oppression whilst looking after ourselves and each other. I look forwards to using Theatre of the Oppressed techniques in my work in the future. A Big thankyou to Reboot the Roots for the opportunity to collaborate and learn. I would also like to thank the amazing group of participants who really showed up, bringing themselves full to the process. More thanks to the volunteers and staff at EcoDharma for putting so much effort into the place, enabling great courses like this one to happen there. I would finally like to thank the mountains.

Theatre Of The Oppressed Training, Ecodharma, 2016

Theatre Of The Oppressed Training, Ecodharma, 2016

toto_feautre

Has it really been over a year since our first full training in Theatre of the Oppressed up the beautiful mountain in Cataluyna? And to think of all the adventures in between, where me met old friends and new in Paris for the COP21, went twice to Budapest for the Alternative Actors Series and Rainbow of Desire training, plus returning twice to Spain for Creative Tools of Social Transformation and to attend the Creating Resilience course in Eroles …

But indeed, next week we return to Ecodharma for another intensive training session, this time with TotO graduate Lex Titterington and new-comer Richard Loizou to facilitate alongside George. Richard has this to share:

 

“I am on a journey to explore explore how I can best bring my gifts to create change in the world. This sounds impressive eh? But it has basically involved me being belligerent and doing exactly what I want most of the time. Occupying buildings so I can be free to occupy myself as I liked led me to making jewellery out of scrap copper, this was fun. Friends invited me to share my skills at a social center they had created. An idea was born, “I good at this and its fun” I will buy a van and travel round music festivals teaching people how to make jewellery. And I did, and it was fun. Then I moved into Embercombe, a land based Learning and personal development center. I was planning to spend a winter there, they have lots of wood to burn, I thought. I stayed for seventeen months and became an Education Assistant facilitating their residential school programs. Personal growth and transofmation are now personal and professional passion. By facilitating on Theatre of the Opressed I hope to deepen my understanding of humanity and help create a space in which people can explore themselves and society. I hope to take the skills and techniques I learn and apply them to working with all kinds of people from all kinds of places.”

 

Thanks for sharing Rich!

 

The course is totally booked out after a massive and enthusiastic response, but don’t worry, next year we will be running even more training sessions in the UK, Spain and beyond in an attempt to meet the ongoing demand. Get in touch to bring Reboot the Root’s infamous Theatre of the Oppressed training to a location near you!

The act of transforming …

The act of transforming

Five years ago today we were in Malaysia … here’s what happened …

azhar

 

The act of transforming, I always say, transforms she or he who acts. So to use the theater as a rehearsal for transformation of reality.”

– Augusto Boal

Today, 8 trainees from Malaysian Care joined us at the Batu Arang Social Centre for a day’s introduction to the praxis of theatre of the oppressed.

The day was co-facilitated by Azahar, Argus and Nurul, and ran through a series of games and exercises aimed at producing an original forum theatre piece related to the common experience of the group.

The piece that emerged was as follows:

Attitude In The Office – a workplace forum

1st Action:

Fred works in an office. He is hard at work, his chair facing away from his colleagues Sam and Daniel. A large box is centre stage. Sam stands, and sees the box. He asks Fred to move it to the store cupboard, and Fred initially resists. All the way through, Daniel is beavering away with his headphones on. Sam convinces Fred to help him move the box, but when they both stand, Sam suddenly remembers he has something else to do. He looks at his watch and leaves. Fred tries to get Daniel to help him move it, but Daniel ignores him. Eventually, Fred tries to lift the box, and injures his back doing so.

2nd Action:

In the next scene, Boss Yong asks Sam to pick up a VIP from Subang airport. Sam is distracted, and barely listens to his boss. The boss returns to his office, and Sam calls Prakash to pick up the VIP. He tells Prakash to go to KLIA. Prakash sets off, and waits patiently at the airport. Boss Yong returns, saying it is 5 o’clock and he is waiting for the VIP. Sam realises he has sent Prakash to the wrong airport, but lies and covers up the mistake. Prakash returns and is blamed for the mistake.

3rd Action:

In the third scene, Fred returns from the hospital and finds Prakash very upset by what happened, Daniel is still ignoring everything, the Boss Yong is sat in his office, and Sam is still pretending to work.

This scene emerged from a process of image work based around the ideas suggested by the group of office integration and people saying negative things about co-workers.

We played with the initial images for sometime, debating whether the initial image (Sam looking at his watch, his other hand held up in supplication as Fred attempts to lift the box) showed equals or a manager/employee relationship. The group decided co-worker relationships were more pertinent to them. The third action developed organically as we laid the background for the story, and a number of actions were attempted to both solve the issue of Sam’s attitude (identified as more important than the actual moving of the box) and examine the technique in general – a classic dilemma of subjective/objective analysis.

The forum produced the following:

First Intervention: Fred returns from hospital, limping, and immediately speaks to Sam, asking him about the box and what happened. Sam defends himself, reasoning that he has to delegate and Fred could have asked Daniel. Fred acquiesces, and goes to speak to Prakash. Prakash is crying, and explains what happened with the airport and the VIP. Meanwhile, Sam goes to whisper in the ear of Boss Yong. Fred goes to speak to the boss alone. The Boss explains that Sam has reported Fred saying bad things about him. Fred explains what happened. The Boss calls Sam back into the office. At this point, Fred wanted to leave, not wanting to damage his good working relationship with Sam. The Boss listens to both people, and then warns Sam that he will be ‘keeping an eye on him from now on’. The Boss seemed largely unmoved by the plight of his workers.

Second Intervention: In this intervention, everything was the same, except Rufus (Fred) chose to take Prakash immediately with him to confront Boss Yong. Boss Yong again seemed unmoved by his workers situation, and gave the same warning as previously.

At this point, we had some discussion about the Boss character, and Sheila opted to take his place to show a different approach as boss. The group accepted Boss Yong’s interpretation, but it felt like he would remain largely neutral throughout. Boss Sheila’s character was more sympathetic and dynamic in solving the problem. The third intervention produced the most interesting results, and was played out with Sue Lyn as Fred.

Third Intervention: After speaking to Sam, Fred’s character goes to speak with Prakash, and this time, Daniel was motivated by compassion to join them and confirm he witnessed Sam telling Prakash to go to KLIA, not Subang. The three of them formed a unit, that then marched in to see the Boss Sheila. Overhearing this, Sam packed his bag and snuck out of the office, only to receive a phone call from Sheila summoning him back. Sheila then dismissed the others and there followed a quite sensitive scene where Boss Sheila tried to speak to Sam about his attitude and how he should behave in the workplace.

This for me was the most interesting moment: seeing Daniel, who had previously sat mutely, passively at the rear of the ‘office’, watching amusedly whilst his colleagues had battled it out, was suddenly motivated to act. He tried to catch my eye to ask permission first, which I gave, interested to see what he intended, and he joined in solidarity with Fred and Prakash – who was making a convincing display of upset over the injustice of his accusation. Similarly, once this happened, it tipped the balance of pressure on Sam, who wanted to escape and avoid the whole scenario.

This is one of the first forums I have come across where multiple people have actively been ‘oppressed’ by the actions of an oppressor: everyone in the office suffers because of the actions of a single co-worker. Not the traditional boss archetype, but a supposed equal, because of whose actions the others suffer collectively.

Throughout the devising process, it became increasingly blurred what was reality and what was ‘acting’, as the assembled group shares a workplace environment and were familiar with scenarios and characters being represented – albeit in a respectful and indirect way. I checked throughout and the group confirmed that they recognised the different boss characters, the different co-worker characters, and indeed each aspect of the scenario was familiar to them.

On analysis, the propensity to avoid confrontation was apparent (Fred fleeing a direct confrontation with Sam, and Sam trying to avoid one as well). Also, the culture of gossip and backbiting was represented, with people in the office frequently eavesdropping on one another, whispering things privately to each other, and favouring 1-2-1 communication over group discussion. However, I believe there were a few key moments when the balance swung towards open communication and directness, however, the boss character did dismiss the others when the opportunity came to speak directly to Sam.

I liked how enthusiastic today’s group was – they were hungry to learn. Apparently they had already tried out a rough forum with a group on Saturday, and it was obvious from how they delved into the technique that they were keen to explore and discover the process. It is my hope that through more sessions like this we can further embed the principles and praxis of Theatre of the Oppressed into the Malaysian NGO and outreach community.

As ever, I ended the session rather abruptly. No need for a cosy wrap-up – let the participants wander out into the jungle blinking and confused – what just happened? Let the aesthetics of the experience come back to haunt them as they return to their office …

For the first time in months, I was able to join in the image session as well. Immediately the profound feeling of being ‘objectified’ struck me as I was modelled into a bizarre shape. It gave me an insight into the process of switching object/subject that the image work is designed for. For a brief moment, I was a thing, an object, for the others to cast their subjective visions upon – a lucid shape to catch the colours of their mind. I must engage more in the exercises run by the others, as the experience is invaluable in terms of internalising the technique.

Despite my megalomaniac urges, the others, of course, ran a superlative process of games and exercises, nicely timed and soundly coordinated. Azhar continues to impress.

So, what next? The group can definitely handle more complicated subject matter, and needs assistance shaping a truly utilitarian forum piece for an audience to hammer home. I shall let it rest awhile, and report back soon with ideas on how we can push the group further.

Ros and Paul’s Mindful Walk Fundraiser for Peace

Ros and Paul’s Mindful Walk Fundraiser for Peace

Paul and Ros

Sunday 9th October 2016

Please support Paul and Ros as they mindfully walk 5k around Glastonbury Festival site, at the 4th Glastonbury Run. All funds raised will be used to fund training of socially excluded people as change agent facilitators, who will go on to work with disenfranchised communities towards creating multicultural harmony across Europe and beyond.

Click here for all the donation details

we would be very grateful

Love

Ros and Paul xxxxx

Until it Breaks!: RtR @ 3rd Berlin Tattoo Circus

Until it Breaks!: RtR @ 3rd Berlin Tattoo Circus

View from the table at Berlin 3TC
View from the table at Berlin 3TC

Tattoo Circus? …what’s that?

The Tattoo Circus began 2007 in Rome and since then, activists from all around Europe (Barcelona, London, Thessaloniki, Bern, Athens, Madrid… etc) took on the concept for supporting those people who can’t be among us.
The idea behind this solidarity event is to create a space where tattoo culture and political engagement come together. Several tattoo artists will provide their creativity, experience and as much ink as possible, in order to support the anti-prison struggle and to become a part of it.
The principle of the Tattoo Circus is that nobody earns anything from this event – neither the tattooists, nor the piercers, the bands, performers or speakers will work for their own profit-and the complete proceeds will get to those people who fight against the state and capitalism.
It is also important that, as opposed to some established conventions, Tattoo Circus takes place in a non-competitive, non-commercial and non-hierarchical atmosphere. Every euro collected in TC goes directly to structures supporting prisoners and the Anti-Prison-Fight.

During the event there will be information provided about the cases of comrades behind bars like about carceral system more generally.

Tattoo Circus won’t limit itself to the tattoo culture, therefore, a rich program is being prepared. It will include lectures, workshops, readings, exhibitions, info points about prisoners, a mail corner to communicate with the detainees and an anti-prison film festival, as well as entertainment in form of extreme art-performances, theatre, concerts… And of course there will be also food and (at least!) a bar!
We cordially invite you to join, help and enrich this project. Because the solidarity with our detained comrades is the measure of our strength!

The preparatory committee

For a society without prisons and repression!
Until it breaks!

Heeding the call from our friends in Berlin, and following up on our fantastic experiences with similar events in Thessaloniki and Zurich, RtR was proud to support artists George F. and oneslutriot to attend the 3rd Berlin Tattoo Circus on the 9th-11th September. Here’s some words from George on his experience:

better

The sun was hot and the beer was cheap. There must have been 50+ tattoo artists working 12 hours a day, each donating all their labour to raise money for prisoner support. We met friends from Thessaloniki and London, unexpected faces emerging out of the Berlin crowd with smiles and support. We set-up a table in the yard and distributed our zines and books, chatting to people from all over about their experiences with the ‘in’justice system, discussing the current state of the situation with the Warsaw 3 and the East Street 3. Friends at home were already organising benefit support and the true scale of the international solidarity and cooperation became apparent from coming together in Berlin to do what we could. I felt truly connected to a movement bigger than London, bigger than myself and my friends. Many thanks to the volunteer table crew!

George F. + support
George F. + support

“Friday we spent the day in the amphitheatre watching street performers and amazing circus aerial shows on a massive rig. A crowd swelled as it grew dark, and the only thing I felt missing was a fire show to blaze in the darkness. The next day, I was booked to perform. Originally intended for the theatre space, the organisers felt that it was such a nice day, I should perform outside. So I ended up between the children’s area and a paddling pool, on a cycle path, surrounded by a gaggle of kids who I got to sing a song about gummi-bears before launching into my usual tirade of anticapitalist antagonism. The crowd was generous, although they seemed very far away. Most gratifyingly was afterwards, when many people approached our little table and chatted for hours about the situation for them in Turkey, in Serbia, about what their situation was, sleeping in parks and travelling across Germany for free.

14393317_1702436896749116_117986291_o

“We sold several copies of the book, and many copies of the zine, the surprisingly most popular one being Brexit Blues – a collection of poems and scribblings all about the brexit farce. It continues to be so encouraging to travel around performing and sharing with people about political issues through poetry. We had a real adventure in Berlin, having to spend a few nights sleeping in the parks ourselves due to being locked out of our accommodation, and I am indebted to RtR for making it possible for myself to attend! Many many thanks. Until it breaks!”

An interview with the facilitators of the ‘Creating Resilience’ programme

An interview with the facilitators of the ‘Creating Resilience’ programme

This August, RtR partnered with the Eroles Project to present a two-week course on Creating Resilience … here’s an interview with 3 of the facilitators from that week …

Who are you and what have you been doing here?

L: My name is Lex I work with gardens, permaculture and theatre. I made a set of masks to bring to Eroles to look at deep ecology (connecting ourselves to nature) and Theatre of the Oppressed, in particular to work with refugees. I have been here for a week and it’s been amazing.

G: My name is George, I am a descendant of displaced people from Poland after World War II. I work with Theatre of the Oppressed and before I came here I was extremely burn out from other projects, but having been facilitating here this week I’m feeling fully charged and ready to go.

M: My name is Miranda, I came to Eroles Project last year to create a climate change action for COP21. I was invited to come back this year to work with George and Lex as a facilitator. This week I have really enjoyed working with resilience and sharing some of my work in this field from back home in Oxford. I am really inspired by how these collaboration will continue in the future.

Why do you think this work is important?

G: We live in a culture where the sense of urgency and crisis means that despite our best intentions and wanting to give as much as we can of our self to try to help other people, we neglect the self care that is essential to make resilience possible.

L: It is very important to come here to Eroles, in the beautiful Pyrenees mountains, with our busy lives, especially if we are working in any ‘crisis’ circumstances. It gives us a chance to step back and have a look at our patterns, to be effective with how we are with ourselves for long term sustainability within our actions and life as a whole.

M: And within that for me is flexibility. To be able to learn from our mistakes – to be able to keep shifting and changing, learning and adapting from our experiences. To design new ways of working and to keep developing as the situation around us changes.

What are you taking with you from this programme?

G: I am taking away the realisation that you can leave a residential programme, powered up, recharged, resilient and ready to face the world and its challenges; as opposed to thinking it was an ordeal.

L: I am taking away from this process a deeper sense of resilience, deeper understanding that the more I care for myself the more I can truly care for the planet. I’m deeply fired up with inspiration from connecting with people all over the world doing similar projects, it gives me an amazing sense of the future. This has been beyond words, just wow!

M: A deeper sense of trust in my intuition. Fire to continue to sense what is needed and to respond in a non urgent way, and to take this into my projects back home.

How can this type of experience inform people working in the refugee / humanitarian crisis?

L: I think this work hugely informs how to care for yourself and for the group your are working in. I think it is quite a profound thing to know how to look after yourself. I also think if you are going to work in a camp context it is best to go in full so that you do not need to get your energy from there. One of the ways we can do this is by connecting to the present without plans of where we might expect to get to; and to share this presence with others as fully as possible. When we are relaxed internally we become more aware of what’s happening externally, this enables us to focus on the things that connect rather than separate us.

M: The exploration I brought with me; “to turn judgement into curiosity” was something that has become more of a solid thing during the week, so I want to go everywhere with that intention. When we celebrate our differences and our gifts rather than arriving already with the answers, we can develop solutions from who is there and what is emerging in the moment from the collective intelligence of the group.

G: Figuratively and literally to shut up and listen. Not allowing the language differences to create more barriers between each other. We modeled this this week by focusing on nonverbal communication and the power of being physically together rather than verbalizing everything. Also listening deeply to what is needed in these spaces as opposed to coming with our own presuppositions to what we think ‘they’ need.

If you have to choose a moment that you really struck you from this week what would it be?

M: The collective ritual when we arrived at the cherry tree. Sometimes rituals can feel ingenuine, but this was a beautiful spontaneous expression of everyone’s individual gratitude for life, each one in their own style and tradition. It was very special.

L: Connecting with the birds. Working with the body. Being inspired. One moment in particular, a few of us were up in the open window playing music, but we were all discordant. I suggested we looked out at the sky, instantly we came into accordance through watching the birds as we played; watching their patterns, being inspired by the freedom that is in the skies. Another time at night in the moonshine, our cross cultural musical collaboration felt like beyond the mind, beyond the cords, beyond the planning – letting go so something beautiful can come though.

G: My favourite moment was when we all danced around in a circle connecting our past, our present and our future and it seemed like anything is possible.

The limitless untold stories in you

The limitless untold stories in you

We just finished working with a dozen peoples from the UK, Spain, Hungary and the Gambia in the beautiful mountains of Catalonia at the Eroles Project – Creating Resilience .. This is the first of several blogs produced in response to the experience . From Ruth Cross of the Eroles Project …

I started writing this blog in a sunny cafe in Oostende on the North coast of Belgium at the beginning of August 2016. I was about to show the premier of a new short film at Theater Aan Zee (TAZ), a dynamic city wide arts festival. The film’s title, Post Present Future, is named after the letter project I’ve been working on for the past seven years of my life. The project is centred around a simple task where people sit at a beautiful old bureau to write a letter to their future self. The instructions are simple too – ‘Take some time to reflect on the narrative of your life and what stories surround you? What are your hopes, concerns and dreams, now and for the future?’ My commitment to each of the people who write is to keep the letters for five years and then to post their letter back to them.

For TAZ 2016 we did a special edition of Post Present Future; we hand delivered the letters. For the first time this meant that I could experience people’s responses as they opened their letter and in their own handwriting read the advice, questions, doubts and promises they’d written as their younger selves. The film captures these tender and delicate moments.

Bearing witness to the fragility of daily life and the grief, the loss, the joys that mark the passing of time has provided an apt backdrop to be thinking about what resilience means in preparation for Creating Resilience, the next programme at Eroles Project, in the Catalan Pyrenees, Spain.

I hope to find a way to hold on to the sense of the strength that I witnessed arising from people’s vulnerability. Many of us have had challenging moments in our lives, many of us have overcome these challenges and moved forward, moved on, moved up. One of my reflections from witnessing people of all ages reading their letter is the self acknowledgement that emerges from hearing their own words from the past. Many of the readers spoke of how the insights had given them more confidence in their ability to live well. For why wait until your death bed to reflect on the way you’ve lived your life? This experience offered the perspective that life is constantly changing, and that all along we have the resources to adapt. Bringing consciousness to the ways we do that, for me, is the art of developing resilience.

The second part of this blog I wrote during the windows of time that facilitating on a residential programme allow, refining these words in my bedroom, looking out over the mountains, fired up after sessions. It has enabled within me a deeper reflection on the collective process and I’m glad to be able to share it with you.

Maria, Ally and myself are facilitating week one of Creating Resilience here at Eroles. Our shared background and connection stems from Schumacher College, a transformative learning centre for sustainable living based in Devon, UK. We bring different qualities and ways into this work but each hold an inquiry into the spaces inbetween, the process of self transformation and how to consciously move from self to collective. During the preparation sessions before the course begins we identify that we are more up for creating the container for a ‘live’ exploration of resilience than to be seen as slick professionals teaching the techniques.

We design the week using key principles of resilience: flexibility, fluidity and diversity, moving from order to the fertile space at edge of chaos where ecosystems thrive. This, along with some guiding values of acceptance, letting go, self responsibility, adaptability, compassion and authenticity shape the overarching exploration and form the main areas of practice.

Between the three of us there are tensions before and during the week as we model moving from order to the edge of chaos. Transitioning is a tricky business. The main points of friction occur as we balance tendencies to pre-define the shape and purpose of the week (through tried and tested methodologies) with courageously going off-script and trusting that by inviting magic, it will come.

On Monday participants from Spain, Hungary and the UK arrive. I am struck by how immediate the connection is, how trusting and warm the culture is that we co-create.

Before the first morning check-in we listen to John O’Donohue, the late Irish poet, who in his soft lyrical voice calls our attention to the distinction between our biography and our identity.

“There is a place in the soul — there is a place in the soul that neither time, nor space, nor no created thing can touch… what it means is, that in — that your identity is not equivalent to your biography. And that there is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s still a sureness in you, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you. And I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary. Time again I look at a pretty face telling me their well rehearsed story and I think that doesn’t even touch the surface of all that you are.”

Following on from this we sit in a circle and are invited to share our story of how we come to be here. Then comes the repeated question – if that is not your story what is? We answer until we begin to shake free of the habitual response, the story we have told so many times over the years that it has shaped our behaviour and thoughts, and becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

If we can be attentive to the moments when we get caught in our habitual story whilst cultivating nourishing patterns, we can change our thoughts and behaviour. That in itself is powerful, and quite a revelation when put into practice.

Our actions in every moment, and our words in every conversation, change the story. By living our life by this principle we have the power to decide if we want to perpetuate a cultural pattern or not. How do we choose to respond when working in an organisation with time pressure and hierarchies, face injustice, experience police violence; when power is taken by another or urgency becomes the dominant narrative. By stepping into the shoes of another, we can feel how far have they walked.

Many times this week I have thought about how to put all of this into practice in the ‘real’ world. Maria reminds us that there is no separation between the world ‘in here’ and the world ‘out there’. This false dichotomy implies that change happens out there in some other moment or place rather than right now in the dynamics of this group, in Eroles, as in a Syrian village or in a refugee camp. Let’s not get caught in hierarchies, but know that positive change happens in the now with people making conscious choices.

“Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

 

 

Reposted from http://www.erolesproject.org/#!The-limitless-untold-stories-in-you/c1zje/57b33fce0cf29e5ebbfd2d5a

 

Solidarity Is Our Weapon – RtR Newsletter August

Solidarity Is Our Weapon – RtR Newsletter August

Dear friends, allies and accomplices,

Hello to you all! Welcome to our irregular Reboot The Roots newsletter …

In these times of Brexit and growing hostility to persons from other places, RTR proudly stands for solidarity with all oppressed peoples, and continues to champion the use of creative arts practices to promote multicultural harmony. We believe in direct action and unremitting creative resistance to all forms of domineering behaviour.

As long as there is an oppressed, we are on their side.

It has been one of our busiest years yet, with over a dozen new associate artists and facilitators sponsored by RtR to do what they do best – create and facilitate social and personal transformation through the arts! However, a key feature of that work this year has been to do with self-care, burnout, and creating resilience.

17920_828084437285442_6687520736892637769_n

 

Highlights include:

-workshops for 60+ people at the COP21 protests in Paris in December, taking a de-escalation bloc (BEEVA BLOC!) to the streets in clown-army fashion to keep the cops on their best behaviour whilst supporting the family friendly and accessible atmosphere.

– a dozen change-agents from across Europe trained in theatre of the oppressed at Ecodharmain October, exploring how we can use Rainbow of Desire and forum theatre to promote unity and liberation.

– we visited Budapest twice to deliver a two-week theatre project around the theme of response to the refugee crisis, returning again to explore therapeutic theatre for healing in February.

– we funded artists to attend festivals in Switzerland and Greece to exhibit their artworks and perform in autonomous spaces, in support of anti-elitism and prisoner solidarity.

– we supported facilitators to return to Cluj in Romania to deliver workshops on the feedback method, feminist history and theatre for social change.

crack 7
11260566_918381568236777_2162776254394334019_o

But we’re not through yet!– in August, RtR is partnering with the Eroles Project to facilitate two weeks of arts-activism on the theme of borders and creating resilience in these troubled times, providing funding and training for a team of facilitators to work with a team members to explore how to keep on keeping on in the face of burn-out and sometimes overwhelming resistance.

– still upcoming this year, we will rejoin Focus Atelier for the inaugural platform event in Chiesenau, in the Republic of Moldava. This will be the first time RtR and Associatia Reciproca are holding this event in one of the poorest countries in Europe.

– we hope to attend the Berlin Tattoo Circus in September with associate artist Sierra Weppla and Creative Director George Wielgus to support prisoners and generate dialogue around the injustice system through Theatre of the Oppressed.

– for this year’s Theatre of the Oppressed Training Week in Ecodharma, Cataluyna, we want to sponsor two emerging facilitators to attend to expand our network and support their development as trainers and artists.

– in 2017, we will launch the Ouroboros Exhibition in London – our first major UK Project – featuring a range of multidisciplinary artists with experience of social exclusion. The theme is around creative responses to the destructive nature of crisis. Watch this space for the upcoming indiegogo campaign and future updates.

 

 

How You CaTeatru-Forum-si-Teatru-Invizibil-Focus-Atelier-44n Help

– join us! On September 4th we are having our annual general meeting for all our members and supporters. More details to follow but feel free to write to us to express an interest.

Solidarity is our weapon. Come vote on our decisions, stand to be a trustee, pitch us an idea, get involved, you are most welcome, the house is yours!

– share our website & social media to promote our work

– write something for our blog on your experience. Did you attend a workshop or performance? Has RtR helped you? We would love to hear about it …

sign up as a regular donor … as little as £2 a week will help us to continue to support the development of artists with experience of social cohesion, assisting them to gain access to new audiences and achieve our vision of a united, multicultural society.

bung us some cash … one-off donations make up nearly 50% of our funding each year. Maybe you participated in one of our free workshops and enjoyed it, maybe you were funded yourself to attend something, now we need your contributions to make these amazing events keep happening!

– watch out for our upcoming indiegogo campaign to raise £3500 to host a multidisciplinary arts exhibition in Tower Bridge in 2017, featuring a range of artists from socially excluded backgrounds.

We couldn’t do this without each other,

Love and solidarity, and many thanks to all the people who have touched our lives,

The RtR Bloc

masks3

Thessaloniki Tattoo Circus – from Sierra

Thessaloniki Tattoo Circus – from Sierra

 

I am a really hardworking full time artist who invests 5-7days a week working on many different projects. I have been invited during my visit to Zurich (which was sponsored by RtR) to participate in this year’s Tattoo Circus in Thessaloniki. The organizers had offered to pay a part for flights and travel expenses, as well as to provide space and all needed materials, which in the tattoo world means a lot – you save a lot of money. I am trying to build my social platform around Europe. Knowing that nowadays most tattoo artists are usually not just tattoo artists – often they are specializing in many other fields like I do, I asked RtR to support my trip to Greece, as it would hopefully benefit my future projects, expanding my contacts and hopefully ccreating new events in the future. Thessaloniki Tattoo Circus (TTC) was promoting a strong collective of artists who specialize in many different fields – from sculpture, to digital art, painting, and obviously tattoos. It was very important for me to take part as a tattoo artist – where I can learn and make contacts with other tattooists – as well as an artist – and also allowing me to see other’s peoples work and hopefully create opportunities to collaborate in the future.

One of the designs I made in preparation of the circus …

As a self- taught tattooist I was wondering if my skills would match with all those professionals working for many years in studios. I was hoping to get contacts and to open gates for guest spots in different studios around Europe.

The Tattoo Circus itself is non-profit event that supports prisoners’ and ex-prisoners’ re-integration into society. The Tattoo Circus as well organizes workshops like letter-writing to prisoners, sending books/magazines and supporting charities that help to integrate those that come out and have to ‘restart’ their lives. TC promotes social change – where the ones behind bars should not be forgotten and left alone, as well as when they come out from prisons they shouldn’t be socially excluded, rejected and incapable of starting to follow their dreams in the same way all of us try to do. I found it a morally valuable subject to support, especially in a world where, for example, while the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.

The door at Terra Incognita, where the event took place …

I had a great time at the Terra Incognito social centre in Thessaloniki. A great time in terms of working hard, up to 12 hours a day, and in terms of communicating with other participants and festival visitors. It was just stunning to see how people managed to organize such a big event completely DIY, as well as provide all the materials, space and furniture necessary for 25 artists over 3 days. It has really left a big impact on me – why couldn’t I start organizing events myself again? It led me to start putting up a concept and discussing with other artists, and here we are, slowly moving towards next step – a huge art project right here in London.

I most definitely succeeded in the fields that were important for me: I have made new conctacts in Berlin, Prague and Lausanne, where I was invited to come to tattoo and exhibit. As well, I expanded my contacts throughout other European countries. Most importantly – it lifted up my self esteem, as I realised I am not worse at tattoos than others – just different. (: As I wrote in my proposal letter- my theory about other tattoo artists specializing not just in tattoo – confirmed itself and I met alot of creative people with whom we will cooperate in the future. Besides that, my success as a tattooist in the festival was satisfactory – I received quite a lot of attention, created new works, updated my portfolio, plus raised some funds for the prisoner support groups.

One of my designs at the Circus, requested to look like one of my paintings …

I found it quite difficult to operate inbetween another 25 artists. I learned about interpretations of my technique and style – lots of people like it, but it’s ‘too dark’ to have it. Pretty much the same as with my paintings and everything else I do. When there are so many tattooists in one location there is always a lot of competition. I am happy I did some of my designs (which was rare at this event– usually people were bringing their own ideas), meanwhile, there were few tattooists who didn’t do a single piece. I believe they were anticipating a bigger crowd this year.

I am grately thankful to RtR for supporting my way to the event, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to attend. Because of the funding I received I was able to book my flights and survive throughout the week in the city.

Where I’m going next?

Where to start? The next project is a big collective exhibition in London – inspired by what I saw in Thessaloniki. Perhaps it is a semi-autonomous space, or hopefully in more established gallery. Meanwhile, I will be guestspotting as a tattoo artist around Europe, and in September attending the Tattoo Circus in Berlin –the second capital of Art in Europe. There is a possibility to exhibit there too, and I will be working really hard to make all these projects to happen.

Thanks again for the ongoing support … be sure to check out my new website at www.oneslutriot.com!

 

A Threshold Moment – from Ruth in Budapest

A Threshold Moment – from Ruth in Budapest

A threshold moment.

After a feisty 2 weeks in Budapest last November Reboot the Roots were invited back to explore Augusto Boal’s transformative techniques with The Alternative Workshop Series Budapest. Last week, late February 2016, George Wielgus and myself facilitated the group for 3 days focusing on Rainbow of Desire.

This was the first time I had co-facilitated with Reboot the Roots and even though George and I had had detailed conversations about the form and content, I arrived on the first day nervous and expectant. What I found was a keen, smiling, (and late) group of social workers, teachers, people working with refugees, in human rights NGOs and drama students.

My role was to facilitate the mornings, preparing the group physically, emotionally and mentally for the afternoons and cultivating a culture of care within the space. Not everyone knew each other or the techniques, and I had concerns that newcomers might be overwhelmed. However the group bonded with ease and we reached a better-than-planned threshold moment by day three.

In the mornings we played trust games in pairs and in groups. We tried out how it feels to make physical connections, to touch and be touched, lift and be lifted. We played many power games some I’d devised to work alongside Rainbow of Desire, so I’m looking forward to trying them again when I facilitate with George in May.

In the afternoons George lead us through Rainbow of Desire including Analytical Mirror and Cop in the Head, all forms of Theatre of the Oppressed that focus on oppressions we experience from within. Augusto Boal, developed these technique in response to his time in Europe when he found the oppressions many people faced were internal more than external (different, he writes, to in the South American cultures with which he originally designed Forum Theatre.)

To give a surface overview George would ask a protagonist to perform an unfulfilled desire in front of the group. Then following a specific structure and involving other participants, the situation was explored from many angles. By the end the whole group is acting / (spect)acting resulting often in the protagonist reimagining their situation.

George is great at holding everyone’s attention, keeping sight of the structure while allowing spontaneity space to play. This for me was where the magic began. When the protagonists, antagonists and spectactors were moved to get involved, when without instruction people intuitively knew what to do, how they wanted to move, speak and relate to others in the space. In these moments there was a tangible sense of flow.

Sometimes however I felt the lines were not so clear. For example deciding when to step in and when to step out of commanding the space, balancing the linear versus nonlinear aspect of the technique, knowing where duty of care ends and self responsibility begins, and when the structure of the technique can be adapted and when its order needs to be kept… All this perhaps comes down to being present listening and intuitive. I’ve become interested in tracking what shifts the energy or mood. Noticing what actions and comments instigate change or reveal another layer of understanding and learning how we can use this to change the dynamics of a situation.
The threshold moment came on Sunday as a result of some well structured pedagogy and a fantastically open group. In the morning we went quite deep into personal boundaries by practicing saying no / stop to physical touch before it became too much. In the feedback people expressed appreciation for the clarity this gave them in how they asserted their boundaries in real life settings. People reflected on how hard it was to say stop because they didn’t want to be seen as weak, others were surprised by how much weight and pressure their partner enjoyed. There was a conversation about how the memory of this simple exercise would be helpful in real life in moments of physical, mental or emotional abuse of power. This series of exercises can be very triggering so it was beautiful to see a sense of respect and quiet collective appreciation. This vulnerable and honest state made the perfect foundation for an afternoon of the intense but palpably transformative Cop in the Head technique. What a workshop!!!!

And so to the future… After telling participants about my work with Eroles Project a learning centre in Spain, which this year explores the theme of Borders, many are keen on participating in the programme. What’s more two of the participants happened to work with Utilapu a Hungarian organisation working with refugees and migrants in Budapest and we are now in conversations about forming a partnership.

As I travel back to Madrid exhausted and enlivened, I am in the midst of designing a training using techniques from Theatre of the Oppressed. I’d like to zoom into boundaries and personal experiences of power to explore the universal imbalance of power. I am hoping to offer this to women’s groups and organisations in Madrid working with refugees. My experience in Budapest with Reboot the Roots has given me the confidence to focus on what I can do, not what I can’t. There is no reason for my life to be controlled by the Cops in my Head.

Empowering change through dialogue