“Making Space between Cultures: A cultural exchange between drama school students and applied theatre students (2012-16)”
A summary of the project
“Making Space between Cultures” is a cultural exchange project. It aims to bring applied theatre and drama school students together in order to establish ways in which theatre education and theatre as a performing art can create a new dialogue on the form and the content of theatre, on a pedagogical, artistic and political level.
The idea of ‘mingling with’ the arts and the theatre pedagogy started in 2012 when the HELLENIC THEATRE/DRAMA & EDUCATION NETWORK (TENet-Gr), suggested that a group of drama school students (Athens Conservatory Drama School, Greece) and a group of applied theatre students ( Dpt of Applied Theatre and Community Drama of Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, UK) should meet in a common workshop, in order to share their expertise in the making of drama through a high level of performativity. The outcomes were presented at the 7th International Conference of TENet-GR in Athens. The project both as a process and as an outcome was highly appreciated by all related partners and initiated further research.
The two major working groups came from different specialty fields: the Greek group consists of Drama school students (Athens Conservatory Drama School, Greece). The British group derives from the Dpt of Applied Theatre and Community Drama of Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts.
The content of the workshop was based on acting and directing techniques as well as applied theatre practices in a common workshop that took place in the rooms of the Athens Conservatory Drama School by Georgina Kakoudaki, theatre history instructor (GR) and Brendon Burns, Applied theatre instructor (BR).
The project, in the years to follow, consisted of the following parts:
-“Homework” for all participants: classical texts that give feedback and create the framework of every year’s research were given to all participants before each exchange.
-Theatre/drama education workshops led by the main two facilitators of the project.
-Theatre techniques’ workshops led by visiting professors.
-Lectures by University professors on specific subjects related to each year’s topic.
-Common visits to archaeological and other sites of specific interest related to each year’s topic.
-Site specific performances.
-Educational visits to schools and other educational institutions.
-Joined workshops with other groups (school drama groups, groups of other projects that use drama/theatre in their work etc.)
-“Nights out”: recreational gatherings of all participants to exchange their pop and traditional culture.
TENet-Gr’s basic aim is and has been the multilayered view of theatre both as a pedagogic tool and as a performing art. Numerous projects and workshops have been applied to serve this goal. However, theatre pedagogues often lack the performing skills – the creativity ‘on the spot’, the high energy that the stage demands ect. – as actors often lack the pedagogic skills – the means needed to direct the content of the play to others, the (if needed) playing/interactivity with the audience.
Having these considerations in mind the specific project focused on the following questions:
– how drama school students can find new ways to invent their content on crucial subjects – a great input on the creative thinking and dramaturgy.
– how applied theatre students can focus on the performative, acting, expressive methodology that can develop some skills on stage.
The goals of this project are various and they relate both
– to research the actual work of and for theatre.
– to achieve a creative meeting of students and cultural references in order to invent new material for the theatre that derive from regional topics but also invent topics of universal appeal
There has not been an official way for the project to be funded. The LIPA funding derived from the exchanges programme of the Dpt. Of Applied Theatre and Community Drama.
The funding for the Greek participants is deriving from personal money and personal work.
“Building solidarity bonds” (November 2012, Athens)
Under the general topics of reality and dream, the group explored the boundaries of narration and the expressive worlds that theatre can create.
The 5 days workshop focused on stage communication, contact, devising stories and ensemble techniques.
The programme ended with a studio presentation with the topic “Building bonds” at the 7th International Conference of ΤΕΝet-GR , 2012 – Bonds of Solidarity, TENet – Gr Conference, Athens Greece.
” Mushrooms in the city: exploring urban culture,” (November 2013, Athens)
Inspired by Italo Calvino novel Macrovaldo: Seasons in the city (parts of it are teaching material in the Greek high school textbook of Literature) the group explored their common experiences of a big western city and the utopian quest of paradise. The workshop focused on verbal and kinetic expression, in order to make short stories of the personal experience of “ the city I leave and the city I would like to live”.
Parts of the educational program were delivered in Art High School of Athens, under the supervision of Alexandra Vasilopoulou (Literature/theatre teacher), with the participation of seventy 13 year old students.
The 5 days workshop ended in the walking performance in Plaka area
“Athens: a myth that is real”, a site specific performance in the streets of Athens Downtown.
“Floating Worlds – The boarders of European Identity: from the Aegean to the Atlantic, myth and reality” (November 2014, Athens)
Based on three texts about the travel, the boundaries and the identity. The forth book of Swifts’ Gulliver Travels, Homers Odyssey ε, and Kafkas’ Silence of the Sirens (parts of it are teaching material in high school textbook of Literature in Britain and in Greece)where the inspiration of a 5 days workshop and a site specific performance.
In this meeting a group of the Greek team of INDRA (International Development of Reconciliation through the Arts) participated as well. The INDRA participants were 17-19 year old amateur actors and young theatre practitioners, part of a separate international project about “Dealing with Conflict through the Arts” (directed in Greece by Betty Giannouli and Iro Portamousi). These young citizens of the sea sore in the South part of Attica were well informed about the fun, the allure and the exploitation of the seaside area of Varkiza (where their team is located). Therefore, their documentative approach gave the material for the site specific presentation “The sea”, a promenade performance at the shore of Varkiza where reality, experience, co-intentionality and text created a 90 minutes theater material.
“Public Signal. Suppliant or deceased: an old dilemma of contemporary times”, (November 2015, Athens)
Inspired by Pericles Funeral Oration (as presented in Thucydides History (parts of it are teaching material in high school textbook of Classics) the workshop aimed to explore public speaking, the structure of institutions, the civilians and their involvement in the politics, the way we are and the way we appreciate the people who once… were.
The 5 days workshop aimed to recreate the ambience of conflict, of opposition, of loss and remorse, with a starting point of the memory, the roots and the traditions and regional history of the participants, through practices of devising texts, directing ideas, inventing the words that sum up the actions.
Within the process the educational team visited a series of Greek Schools (5th High School of Agia Paraskevi, 12th Primary School of Kallithea) under the supervision of Georgina Kakoudaki (as part of the project “It could be me, it could be you” TENet- Gr/UNHCR), where theatrical events were created with the students under the topic “Lost countries”.
The programme finished with a site specific walking performance titled “Public Signal. Suppliant or deceased: an old dilemma of contemporary times” that took place in the ancient root (now streets, buildings and abandoned alleys and fences that shelter some ancient relics) that starts from the Ancient Cemetery of Athens (Keramikos) and leads to the exact (?) place (just outside the Athenian walls) that Pericles is supposed to address his Funeral Oration in the Public Signal (Dimosio Sima/ancient word for cemetery) of the city of Athens in 5th century D.C.
”Ηeadlines”, May 2016, Liverpool/ part 1
Based on the breaking news and the newspaper headlines the workshop aimed to discover how news either inform or destruct public opinion and the way we behave as citizens after the news are devoured .
Most of the research focused on the topics of both Greek and (forthcoming in June 2016) British referendum and he way we understand the content and the sequences of it in our present and future life. The 5 days workshop focused on ensemble work , mikro-theatre practices, innovative ways to do interactive, community theatre.
The project ended with the studio performance in LIPA Institute Venues, based on the newspaper clips under the title “Yes or no? Remain or leave? Grexit or Brexit”.
Part two of this project will take place in the port of Piraeus in November 2016, Under the topic “Angelos: Bearer of (no) hope in ancient tragedy”
The intention of this project is to create a path for theatre art and applied theatre to intergrade so that the actor of the future works for a more concentrated way towards the need of the community when on stage and the theatre pedagogue with a more aesthetically demanding subtext when working for the community. In this 5 year period that we have created the space for young people to meet, we are always happy to find out that what is always similar between the participants is the agony and the joy of the search of the truth.
-Athens Conservatory Drama School /Georgina Kakoudaki/ theatre director, arts educator
-Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, Burdon Burns/ Applied Theatre Teacher, Director
-TENet- Greece, Iro Potamousi/sociologist, arts educator, Sonia Mologousi/arts educator
-INDRA Greece, Betty Giannouli/Sociology teacher (2014)
-Art High School of Athens, Alexandra Vasilopoulou/literature teacher (2013)