The week between 12thand 20thof February 2020 youth workers from Portugal, Poland, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, North Macedonia, Romania, Croatia, Hungary and Lithuania gathered together in the lovely city of Braga in sunny Portugal to take part in the Erasmus+ project “Let them be heard” which was hosted by CONEXAO JOVEM and implemented in cooperation with Euromuevete, TDM2000, TDM 2000 Polska, ICDET, Interaktiva, KKA, Lithuania Liberal Youth, CET Platform Skopje.
Some of us participated in the first part of the project which was a seminar concerning the refugees’ situation and EU migration policies and got introduced to the topic of Forum Theater as a method for social problems. This time the project was a training course and we got deeper into the theater and all the other artistic and creative tools we used to get to know each other, to form good co-working teams and to work on our tasks.
Each new session was full of challenges and required a lot of creativeness, braveness and some craziness. And, of course, the funniest energizers and games that helped us to break the ice even since the first half of day 1.
During the first days we had these “exploring the city” tasks like creating dances and songs or filming a 7-day pantomime weather forecast and acting in scenes from different famous movies directly on the streets of Braga – which brought us a lot of pleasure and laughter and we definitely had a lot of fun! After this, we jumped into some serious presentations such as the situation and all the problems of migrants and youth in our countries – but apparently we realized they are quite common. And we managed to relax with some funny energizers like kissing competition and touching each other with closed eyes, and also some meditation. Then, we had interesting sessions in which we discussed Conflicts – how do we understand them, in how many ways can we react to them, their objectives, causes and consequences, motivation of parties, because in order to have forum theater, we need a conflict first. We do also need a conflict map – to put all the characters into order and with relations between them. We exercised this mapping through analyzing conflicts in famous films like “The lion king”, “Sponge Bob” and “Harry Potter” which prima facie seemed a hard task but in the process of work became clear and easy. After this, we used these new gained skills to create the conflicts in our scenes for Forum Theater, to share out the roles and point the characteristics of our main characters and later, based on this, to write our scripts.
While we had some theater theory lessons for the invention, history and functions of forum and invisible theater, we managed to have a lot of fun with creating group dances, sound theater tasks, shadow following in pairs, pantomimes, meditation with closed eyes in teams. And so on, and so on. I had the feeling that these various and entertaining tasks didn’t have an end and a new amusing one is hiding behind every corner, on each floor of the building or even on the street, where we actually loved to rehearse our scenes!
We also didn’t forget to observe the beautiful city of Braga in the breaks, to prepare delicious traditional foods and drinks for our intercultural presentations and to spend an unforgettable free afternoon with friends, when some of us went to the famous cathedral Bom Jesus, another part – to Guimarães, the city where Portugal was found and the others – to a famous shopping center.
At moments it seemed like an endless journey of breaking the ice, going out of our comfort zones and rediscovering our creative and artistic selves but it all went so quickly that we didn’t realize how we found ourselves revealing to our “secret friends”, putting the last goodbye letters in our friends’ envelopes and… sadly buying the way-back tickets to the airport.
Special thanks to our trainers Michal and Aga, our host Henrique, our Portuguese friends helping with the logistics and organizational stuff and thanks to Erasmus+ that again brought together in one place great people who charged each other with so much positive energy and good vibes.
by Silvia Arsova
TC “Let them be heard” in Braga, Portugal