I participated in a workshop led by Dinos Aristidou, a free lance theatre professional and the Artistic Director of the Festival. He led us through an “One-on-One” Theatre, or Immersive Theatre experience. I will describe in detail below what we did just for future reference and for those of you interested in the details. Dinos runs an organization called “InSites” that works with schools in poorer London areas whose goal is to connect young people to their environment. The idea started with the youthful, angry rioters destroying their neighborhood. Why would they do this? There are many reasons, but one is a disconnection to their surroundings. This is a trend not just with urban poor as in London, but for most teenagers, with adolescents more connected to the electronic devices than each other or what is located around them. InSites works with students to get them to be more aware of the buildings, people, and their local environment through theatre.
Our group of teachers were taught all of the techniques by experiencing them. We did all of the activities Dinos does with his InSites group. The activities focus people on each other and the place.
I was very inspired after the workshop! This would be a great exercise to do during a PD or orientation day with an international school faculty or students. As with my jazz improv experience last summer in Lehigh, I am getting more interested in incorporating The Arts into my leadership of schools. The immersion theatre could be focused on the campus and the history of the buildings, or the culture of the country or city. Dinos suggested adapting this with possibly giving scripts of plays, excerpts of published works, rather than people making up their own. One can also use photographs, pieces of art, diaries, letters, etc. I love the idea of place memory and its impact on people. Perhaps the veteran teachers could pick a spot in the school that has great meaning to them, for example, where they signed the contract to work at the school, a great teaching moment, a place they go to relax, etc. They could relate the story to a new teacher and this could help them learn about the school grounds and culture. In thinking of my new school next year, OIS, we could do something with the tatami room (Japanese culture), the bamboo forest outside the soccer field, the renovated courtyard, etc. Japanese could be paired with foreign teachers as well to have an intimate experience and help collaboration and communication between the two cultures.
Dinos Aristidou has a much experience with ISTA and is one of the keynote speakers in next October’s IB World Conference. I highly recommend him for schools looking for an artist-in-residence or a theatre consultant. He connects with teachers and students. He can be reached at email@example.com.
People Connecting Activities
- Whisper Choreography – Person behind whisper instructions of slow, controlled movements to the person in front of them. The person behind mimics the person in front of them. This can be set to soothing music.
- I Am A Camera – Person A puts shoulders on Person B, who had their eyes closed. Person A leads them to a place on campus, leading them with directions to when they open their eyes, they are focused on an object or view, like a camera.
- Pass It On – Two people walk arm-in-arm and describing things they see. The other person repeats after them. After three objects, the roles reverse with the command, “pass it on.”
Connecting To Place Activities
“We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.” Winston Churchill
“We locate ourselves in places, and place locate themselves in us” Dinos Aristidou
The second set of activities dealt more with place. We were asked to write three story fragments, starting with a memory of a moment of intense joy, sadness, or fear. Memory is the anchor of the activity. The next was set in the future and what impact the memory has on the person’s future. The third fragment was to describe the moment the memory came to the person. Dinos told us in detail how we were to use the three story fragments. Each story fragment was associated with a site on campus and “Whisper Choreography” and “I Am A Camera” activities to get the people between the sites.