Working with Lisa is a true process. There is no instant gratification when dealing with the Theatre of the Oppressed and many of my classmates and I had this realization today during the third and fourth workshops Lisa guided us through. Prof. Lamas understood the difficulty that some of my peers had with the work we were doing yesterday in class, and in response to people's concerns he provided the option to work, for the day, on a different project along the subject lines of Social Justice. While a few student's decided to go out into other areas of Philly and create videos, or work on other projects, I wanted to stick out the time I had with Lisa today. Even though yesterday was different and the work much more structured than we are used to, I still had a fun time learning new activities and getting to know everyone in class better. We were really able to bond yesterday, so I had hope that even if I struggled with Lisa's activities today, I would have the satisfaction of growing closer with the people in my class.
In workshop three, the morning portion, we began class with our special handshake and then split up into two circles to play more nonverbal games. I think these "gamsercises" (games and exercises) have helped stop me from immediately blurting out my thoughts to someone, and instead I am beginning to think more consciously about the words that come out of my mouth and what meaning they really carry. We went on from these activities to making "machines," by having one person at a time make a sound and movement that the next person would try to connect with. For example, Lisa would give us the phrase "cookie machine" and we would go up one by one to the front of the class and create a movement and noise that we think would make an appropriate piece for a machine that produces cookies. The next person would then jump up and create their own part of the cookie machine that works with the first movement, and so on. It was challenging to think of machine pieces so quickly, but I had fun with it because I was able to be a little spontaneous and act out what came to mind without feeling that embarrassed around everyone. Later on we broke up into the same two groups we were in at the beginning and discussed pressures that teens commonly feel and the forces responsible for putting that pressure upon us. My group came up with a number of general and specific examples, and then Lisa asked us to write down the generally stressful categories on post-its. Once both groups had done this, we had a short reflection and then departed for our lovely two hour lunch.
In the afternoon, we continued class from where we had left off with the sticky notes. Prof. Lamas came in for a minute to discuss the option of taking two days of to work on another project next week or the week after, but the option to leave the second half of class today was off the table; no one wanted to miss the fourth workshop anyways so we were happy to stay. In this workshop we broke into five or six different groups and each group was labeled a different category from the post-its we wrote on this morning. My group for instance was labeled relationships, so we took that category and each of us had to separately sculpt our group in relation to that topic. However, these sculpted scenes were not random, but they had to stem from our personal experiences. This way we were really able to connect to the sculpture and convince the rest of the class that we had true understanding of the image depicted when we presented them all at the end of the day. For me, it was easier and more fun to be the "sculptee" than the sculptor because I was able to get a sense of how the sculptor was feeling and learn a little bit more about them through the scene. This activity was awesome! I have done this with my dance company before, but I felt that the messages were deeper during this workshop with Lisa. I am so glad that she is spending so much time with us because I have already learned, to greater extent, how to appreciate work that doesn't immediately reveal its purpose. I have so much respect for Lisa for being so patient and passionate with us, and for tomorrow I am extremely excited to end the week learning more about her work with The Theatre of the Oppressed and her methods on achieving justice. Besides, these gamesercises we're doing are awesome!