Tag Archives: Ruth Cross

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Over The Rainbow

Over The Rainbow

George, the Creative Director of RtR, was in Budapest for three days delivering an intensive course about Rainbow of Desire …

The Budapest crew!

Expect to cry. I now understand the emotional release of tears during a workshop is a sign that things are going well. It sounds bizarre, borderline perverse, but I now suspect if I ran a course in Rainbow and someone didn’t cry, I must be doing something wrong.

From Friday we used the Analytical Mirror to explore moments of indecision (which job to take, whether to move to another country with a partner), to Saturday when we applied the Rainbow itself to discussing a moment of rejection by a former lover, to Sunday’s exploration of ending a relationship that has become addictive, but toxic, through the Cop In The Head. Each time, despite moments of levity and joy, a palpable atmosphere descended upon the group, one of intense listening and focus as the protagonist battled with concrete versions of their doubts, fears, desires, talking them around into transformation.

My heart was in my throat throughout each presentation, as the responsibility of bringing people into some highly emotive states rested squarely on my shoulders, but I am relieved and joyful to report that, as ever, people emerged from the experience reporting release and relief, and often, a little better understanding of themselves.

Collaborating with Ruth Cross also provided a great foundation to the emotional work involved in the afternoons. Ruth facilitated some incredible sessions involving massage and power, and I look forward to working with her again in Ecodharma in May.

Equally, organiser Andras was amazing, managing with the help of his team to clean out and prepare a semi-derelict cafe space for us to use the basement of- replete with carpet tiles, heaters and lights!

I was thrilled to see so many of the people we worked with in November return, and hope to see them all again very soon to continue our journey. There are plans for subseqent workshops in Budapest, plus I have invited them all to join me in Cluj next month for a week of forum theatre training, and aswell there is Tu Fuokan festival coming up in June. It’s shaping up to be quite a year!

 

“True power lies within finding compassion … “

“True power lies within finding compassion”

Ruth Cross of Cross Collaborations and the Eroles Project joins us in our return to Budapest to deliver a course in Rainbow of Desire.

 

It’s 10pm on Wednesday night and I’m in the basement of an old club in the heart of Budapest. It’s covered in a thick layer of dust & colourful graffiti and now used for underground parties and workshops. Thanks to the connections of Andras the workshop coordinator here in Hungary, we’ll be using this space for the Theatre of the Oppressed workshop on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. We’ are moving piles of wood and strange 80’s club furniture, finding lighting, sweeping, mopping… Andras finds some speakers and Ludovico Einaudi‘s soaring melodies giving our mopping a performative rhythm.

I arrived in Budapest yesterday morning, it’s my first time here, and my first time facilitating with Reboot the Roots. Walking round the city at dusk the streets are calm and empty in a way particular to February’s, even in capital cities. The people I’ve met are friendly, couples holding hands and laughing, groups of tourists taking photos of each other in the rain, market stalls vibrant. The architecture is strong, and much more beautiful than I had imagined, the bridges over the river light up the night and give a magical feeling to the divide between Buda and Pest – the two towns that once upon a time joined to make Budapest.

As we work I think of the conversations we’ve been having today about the migrant crisis, oppression, xenophobia, sexual abuse, some of the improvisation themes that I’m told have surfaced in workshops with this group before. I think of the research I have been doing about the lives of women and children refugees as they try to cross borders. I think about the fact that these thing are happening now. I feel the uncomfortableness that thinking about these oppressor/oppressed situations is creating in my body.

I wonder what we will share together in this space during the workshop. What topics will surface as we dive into Boal’s techniques of ‘Rainbow of Desire’, ‘Analytical Mirror’ & ‘Cop in the Head’. I’m aware of the power and depth that these processes hold. I meet an edge within myself of not wanting to experience the pain of other people’s suffering. I breathe and try to stay open to the sensation, not turn away or become numb. This practice of mindfulness sustains my engagement through my waves of nervousness, self doubt, rage.

I reflect that for me true power lies within finding compassion. Feeling the suffering of another (whether the oppressed or oppressor), whilst staying centred, present and grounded in myself. Not reaching in to catch nor running away.

This weekend I hope that we will touch on some real topics of concern for people in the group, and that the techniques we use in the afternoons not only help to reimagine their own situation, but to give people the confidence to take this methodology into the social work they do in Budapest. I hope that trainings like this help changemakers, theatre makers, activists better understand the complexity through which social transformation happens, arming ourselves with the tools and compassion that can forge the radical changes we see are needed in the world. I have come back to working with theatre after many years because I have experienced the potential of methods like Boal’s in creating the right conditions for the dance to begin between transforming oneself and the transformation of society.

Four hours and a considerable amount of dust later, the space is transformed. Still needing a second mop, but pretty much ready for the workshop. As am I.