Playing it serious
A two day drama workshop led by InSite and hosted by CPIP in Timisoara
18th-19th February, 2015
The teacher sits beside a troubled student waiting for his bus at the bus stop and tries to find out what happened to him. But the student says everything is fine. He doesn’t want to talk.
The teacher was played by one of the participants of the drama workshop InSite held in Timisoara for adults working with young people in various contexts, while the student was the workshop facilitator in role. When the scene ended those watching it were asked what stopped the student from talking to his teacher. The list seemed endless – the fear of the teacher intervening in the wrong way, the fear of being bullied more, the way adults try to solve problems that are far too complicated for them to understand, being uncertain about the right thing to do, feeling alone, etc…
The two day workshop held by InSite offered the participants the possibility to participate in a drama lesson that investigates the issue of bullying, and the possibility to understand the approach and the methodology used in drama education. Theory was tested again and again in practice, with the participants being invited first to experience the lesson and then to try to facilitate parts of it, so that the possibilities and the difficulties of working in the drama paradigm are revealed to them.
The 22 participants arriving from different backgrounds, spanning from high security prisons to probation services, worked through the two days with dedication, their participation only rarely hindered by having to express complex thoughts in a second language as the training was delivered in English. But the fact that the training built on constant participation made sure that no one was left behind, the whole group worked on understanding the differences between working through drama and other pedagogical approaches.
The training held by InSite aimed to share methods, examples and a basic theoretical background for using drama education (also referred to as process drama or educational drama) used to engage in issues such as bullying in or out of the classroom. The trainers also aimed to show different ways of creating situations in which learners/young people can engage on their feet, be motivated to understand and enjoy entering fictional context to recognise how and why problems develop. It was also an aim to present methods which can help in looking at problems as complex social issues, rather than individual cases, and that build empathy for the ‘other’.
The central aim of the drama lesson that participants took part in and then looked at how they could facilitate it for young people was to look at bullying from different point of views – the bullied, the bully, the accomplice, the bystander, the teacher and the parents – and then offer a framework for the participants of the lesson to come up with what different people could do in relation to the specific case of bullying that was enacted. This seemed to be the biggest shift between the drama approach and the everyday practice of the participants – to let the young people come up with ideas themselves after investigating the complexity of the problem, and even try some out in a safe, fictional environment.
Of course many questions, dilemmas and reactions came up through the two day process. The workshop participants started discussing where and how they could implement the approach and methods learnt during the training, and everyone felt further trainings, job shadowing and testing of practices in the actual environment would be extremely useful.
CPIP created the perfect environment for a challenging two days, everything was thought of and smoothly organised so both trainers and participants could concentrate on what they can learn from spending the two days working together.