Raport 1 (Gr. 11)
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
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Report on the local pilot workshops
Venue: “Spazio Donna” piazza Sturzo, 44 Palermo, Italy
Date: 19th June-10th July 2018 (4 three-hour sessions)
Leader: Dario Ferrante (project manager CSC Danilo Dolci), Emiliano Mungiovino and Grace Sciarrino (social worker at WeWorld)
Please present your own experience in the most instructive, simple and clear way.
- Please present the characterization of the group and the participants (Special attention to the participants facing social obstacles, disability, economic obstacles, educational difficulties, cultural differences . How many would fall into this category? Which types of difficult situation are these participants facing?)
10 women and 2 tutors participated in the pilot workshop sessions, mostly young women aged 25-30 years old from disadvantaged families. These women usually attend “Spazio Donna” three times a week, participating in different activities such as tailoring workshops, training courses, language courses. 4 workshop sessions lasting 2,5-3 hours each were organized on a weekly basis, once a week (Tuesday). One performance of a short story created by the group of participants was staged at the end of the pilot sessions in September 2018. The “Spazio Donna” project has been active in Italy for three years and it opened in Palermo in February2018. “Spazio Donna” is located at Borgo Vecchio, one of the most deprived neighborhoods in Palermo, where poverty and early school leaving are the main social problems. These young women experience difficult situations in their families such as unemployment, poverty, early school leaving. Also, Borgo Vecchio is a neighbourhood where organised crime is still strong and a culture of illegality is widely spread.
- Please describe the pilot workshops (The working process in detail divided into each session. Description of the venue, materials, tools, etc.)
The first session and every session during which a new participant appeared began with the presentation of the facilitators conducting the workshop sessions, and all participants. The rules concerning meetings were being defined together (among other: workshops duration, freedom of participation, discretion, respect for others, lack of assessment, addressing one another by first names). A tag on a paper tape was created with the names of all participants, so to facilitate the memorization of names.
During the first session, facilitators asked all participants to introduce themselves with name and profession. After, facilitators tried to make participants feel comfortable and confident.
Questions made by the facilitators:
- Presentation + answer to the question “Why are you attending the workshop?”
- What are your learning objectives in the training sessions?
- Which are your fears and expectations?
Facilitators tried to set up a friendly and collaborative atmosphere since the beginning
III. WORK ON A PUPPET
Facilitators proposed the sessions they performed with the first pilot group, when they worked with migrants.
The first session started with the projection of the video showing how to create your own puppet. After watching the video, all participants sit in a circle surrounding collection of different materials previously arranged by the facilitators. These were for instance: a roll of brown paper and a single sheet crumpled up, a few pairs of scissors, a few spools of string (different colours), some old newspapers, coloured crepe paper. The facilitators asked the participants to comment on the objects laying on the floor: papers, pencils, hemp strings, other objects, scissors. Participants answered in many ways, so they started getting familiar with the group and the activities.
After this first round of comments, participants created creating their own puppets in about 3 hours. The work was intense and all participants created a puppet. Facilitators supported participants in the puppets making process. When everyone was finished with her puppet, all participants gathered in a circle and the facilitators asked the participants the name and identity of their puppets. Participants answered in many different ways: some said that the puppet was their son or daughter, some others said the puppet was totally invented, some said the puppet was resembling her doll when she was a baby girl.
After the first session, facilitators started the second session with the “Two chairs” activity. All participants sat in a semi-circle. Dario Ferrante placed two chairs on the stage. One of them, the comfortable chair was a space of good feelings and positive reflection. The second chair was placed upside down as a representation of everything which is/was disturbing, uncomfortable, problematic and difficult. Dario Ferrante was the first to speak about important events and feelings. In this way the participants understood the essence of the activity and were encouraged to try it for themselves. This activity worked very well as the young women felt it like a game and a way to be in the spotlight.
After this activity, the facilitators used the “Chairs-Characters” to create a story. Facilitators believed that this technique was more appropriate to stimulate participants’ imagination then expressed in a written form, rather than verbal, so to test their writing skills. The participants sat in a semicircle. The facilitator placed one chair in front of them, and proposed to create a personage out of it through adding different items/objects. Whoever wanted to contribute to this joint act of creation provided the evolving character with new attributes. Participants used materials and objects which were in the room, together with a bag full of different things and objects that CSC uses for “creative thinking” activities which was brought to “Spazio Donna”. A sort of magic box full of strange and unusual objects. After a while another chair was placed in the room, this time lying upside down on the floor. Again, the group was encouraged to transform the chair into a character in the same way as before.
When the creation of all figures was completed the facilitator invited participants to analyze the image. First, the group reflected on the whole picture, talking about relations between individual characters and about the general character of the scene. Next, the facilitator focused attention of the participants on every figure, one by one, asking what visual elements was the most and the less important for their look and expression. The following questions were asked: What makes this figure to look like a man or a women or an animal? What details of the figure appearance are essential for its identity?
Next, the participants worked individually. They had 30 minutes to write down the stories which came to their mind in relation with the two characters created out of chairs. No suggestions regarding the form and style were given. In result a great variety of stories were created. After, the facilitator asked participants to come on stage one by one and read their stories aloud. Sometimes the stories were of a very personal character. In general, stories were simple and all focused on females figures, as all participants were female and most of the objects present in the room belonged to them.
In the third session, participants were divided in two groups. The facilitators asked the two groups to create a scenario for the stories imagined in the second sessions, so participants were stimulated to create a set and pick up a common story to be staged. They were invited to practice with puppets and to create a common topics into a plot. It was suggested that each group will compose a scenario for a simple, yet meaningful action on stage and will write it down. The main focus should be on describing the plot in detail, scene by scene, as it was during the exercise meant for practicing animation skills. Such a scenario should first of all answer the question: What exactly does the puppet do and what happens on stage? The group jointly decided also about the number of puppets to be used, about the elements of stage and space where to perform. So after the practicing, the participants agreed on a story and started creating objects for the performance.
During the fourth session the two groups were creating stories for the final performances. From flipcharts the stories were transferred on the tables with the puppets being the true protagonists. The two groups focused on shared topics from the third session. Facilitators helped participants using flipchart and giving examples of possible stories to be performed on stage. One group was invited to write a story on their daily life. They practiced a lot with the puppets and tried to rehearse the story they wrote on a flip chart, helped by the facilitators and tutor from “Spazio Donna”. They also selected the puppets for the final performance and adapted the clothes and details to the story. It took a while before the participants felt confident in operating the puppets and in remembering all the stages of the story. Participants were practising the final performance, trying to memorize all the different scenes and trying to get familiar with the puppets as much as possible. A final performance was held by the participants at “Spazio Donna”.
At the end of each class, participants gathered in a circle and tried to summarize the session and name the thoughts they have after it. They usually emphasized that the class appealed to them, despite the initial distrust, they were happy that they took part in it. For some, it was an opportunity to get to know something new, for others a fun or time well spent. Most liked the atmosphere that prevailed in the session, the opportunity to be heard, to listen to others’ supportive experiences. Some participants needed much more time to complete certain phases, and they were supported by the facilitators and other participants. In general, CC methodologies applied quite well to this target group, particularly the ones which implied manual activities and easy tasks.
- Please present the most interesting/representative case studies of adults participating in the workshop
Monica, a woman from Borgo Vecchio neighborhood, attended all the sessions and was enthusiastic since the first session. She created the story for her group and stimulated all the other women in participating. Monica told her story and kick-started most of the reflection sessions, facilitating the work of trainers. She is very active in her community and she is bringing other women to “Spazio Donna” which now represents an important place for aggregation in a community where getting together is not easy and there is a lack of spaces for social activities.
- Please define clearly the motivation mechanisms and learning approaches used during the workshop
As a part of a pilot workshop targeting people with fewer opportunities in Palermo four two-hour workshops were conducted, plus the final performance, during which puppet theatre techniques as well as techniques related to psychodrama and drama were used.
The exercises performed during the first session were aimed at integrating the group, building trust, a sense of safety and readiness for cooperation. Then the process of creating puppets began, their individualization, and next participants were jointly inventing universal stories, that were presented in the form of improvisation without the use of words.
In the course of the subsequent sessions participants were more and more opening themselves, they were increasingly willing to talk about themselves, were overcoming their fear of public speeches, engaging themselves into cooperation. Working with a puppet gave an opportunity to externalize personal problems, to show in a safe way what was hidden in the subconscious. It gave an impulse to work on oneself, to look for meaning in one’s own life. Puppet workshops have also proved to be an effective tool for building group relations. They gave space to appear and express oneself in a safe environment. Thanks to the joint work on puppets participants quickly entered into mutual relations, contracted enthusiasm from others, got inspired, but also envious, or were angry with each other. Workshops were an opportunity to work on communication modes, externalizing emotions or expanding social skills.
The facilitators tried to motivate participants using storytelling and stimulated them on certain topics which were appealing to them. For example, to help the process of digging out a common story, the facilitators suggested participants to create a story on their daily routine. Facilitators tried to apply techniques where participants can mainly use their hands and creativity, rather than words. The cultural and educational barriers were a critical point to select the proper methods and teaching approaches as many participants were early school leavers and their cultural level was low. Speaking in Sicilian dialect was helpful to establish confidence among participants and to break the social and cultural barriers between facilitators and participants.
- Please write your comments/evaluation from the trainer’s point of view
Theatrical activities with the use of puppets proved to be a valuable method of art-therapy nature:
– Participants talked about themselves through the characters they created without talking or using Italian. Thanks to this, they did not feel forced to self-analyze, but naturally created characters’ stories using their own experiences and emotions.
– Creative activity was a positive and attractive experience for the participants. They were inventing something from the beginning, giving their characters individual features. They were seriously committed to the process of creating puppets, and later on were very attached to them.
– An important value of the workshops was group work, during which the “stronger” persons helped the weaker, they supported each other, and built relationships.
– The final outcome of the workshops, that is a presentation of prepared performances, was a great experience for the participants. They greatly enjoyed that the spectators understood their story and its message. For the majority of participants it was a subjective experience, increasing their self-acceptance and self-esteem.
– Sometimes for this target group, some exercises are too complicated and the educational barriers are too high to be overcome, for example the “Theatre Group Game” is not applicable to this target group as probably none of the participants has never been in a theatre environment. For creating a common story, for instance we asked the two groups to talk about daily lives. So they felt themselves engaged and interested in the stories to be created.”
- Please describe any interesting point of view of the participants relevant to the piloting
Participants’ opinions on the workshops were expressed during the “Two chairs” exercise, in which one chair represented positive lessons learned during classes, the other (overturned) – issues that were difficult or uncomfortable for participants.
Also, the final evaluation questionnaires have provided more opinions, including, among others,:
“I felt very well because I enjoyed the puppets making process and I think I will use these techniques in the future, especially with my kids and family”.
“It was funny and entertaining”
“I liked creating new characters, creating stories”
“I’m glad we could meet each other in a safe environment”