I took part in an ‘Images’ workshop facilitated by Jenny Macdonald from Smashing Times Theatre and Film Company. The workshop was part of a Symposium titled ‘An Artists Vision for Ireland’.
There were twelve participants in the workshop and our overall objective was to create images, using our own bodies, of our vision of the arts in Ireland.
Jenny did some simple exercises to help the group feel more relaxed. We did some exercises that loosened us up and put us in a zone where we could be creative. There was a very open, positive, creative atmosphere and people felt free and encouraged to talk and slowly begin to express our own vision. But that vision as not being expressed primarily through words. Instead we used our bodies.
In three groups of four, we began to work on a short choreographed movement piece, Jenny guiding us and helping us understand the process. This methodology was based on the theatre work of Augusto Boal.
My group of four people set about exploring in movement and gesture our vision of the arts in Ireland. Initial images were those of being off balance, dissonance, lack of harmony, isolation, directionless conflict, inertia, frustration. Over some time we began to see where these initial images might go. We began to look for a truthful transformation for these images into something more productive and collective. Through trial and error and through moving our bodies in different directions and changing onto different shapes, we began, as a group, to negotiate a new vision. There was a transformation. Our initial fractured image began to transform itself, slowly and truthfully, into another image. This new image revealed itself to us. Though tugging and pushing and probing and kinaesthetic intuition, we found a new image that embodied harmony, creative partnership, openness, creative risk taking, awareness of the other, the joy of collaboration. This new image emerged organically and was not coerced into existence. It felt right. We did some talking and worked on a common breath between the four participants. Our bodies led, and our minds caught up. It was an exhilarating experience: truthful, surprising, revealing and inspiring. Our four spirits came together.
We presented out image to the rest of the group and then, in turn, watched the images of the other participants. We cemented on what we saw. Each image presented was unique and yet each had a common thread of collective creativity and collaborative joy. One woman added her voice and sang an old Irish song which beautifully evoked other associations and made the image they had created resonate even further.
We presented our images on the Smock Alley stage to the full gathering of the symposium. Again, people commented on what they saw. The audience were able to see and feel and experience our artistic vision for Ireland.
Jenny led a workshop that was perfectly structured and at times evoked moments of beauty. A great atmosphere to work in; we felt empowered to take the first few tentative steps towards creativity, and once these were taken, we were on our way. These images will remain with me for a long time.
– Paul Kennedy