This is a reference for Aleksandra Jones


The training activity took place
in Belgrade, Serbia
organised by UGRAFT

Aims & objectives

METAMORFOZA was a 10 day training in Sensory Labyrinth Theatre (SLT) hosted by UG RAFT Belgrade in partnership with POD theatre.

Sensory Labyrinth Theatre is an unique applied theatre approach developed by Wales based director Iwan Brioc and works with communities to investigate the interrelation of our senses, our environment and our inner world; and how this relationship can unfold into a sense of well being.
The objectives of this project were to -
- introduce the methodology of SLT to SEE and new members of our informal network,
- invigorate a dialogue in Serbia about innovation in youth work approaches through participative arts
- inspire the aspiration and provide the knowledge, skills and confidence to the training participants to apply the approach in their own work - or at least to enrich their current practice.
- to highlight the application opportunities of the methodology in engaging, motivating and generating a sense of community and togetherness for young people disadvantaged by disability, discrimination, emotional neglect and dislocation.
The training explored themes of Metamorphosis in particular how young people can be supported to make the change from child to adult in this precarious economic and social climate that we find ourselves needing to confront.

Target group & international/intercultural composition of the group & team

The training invited 34 non-formal educators and artists active in the youth field from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Croatia along with participants from Bulgaria, Wales, Romania, Estonia, Italy, France and Portugal.

Training methods used & main activities

METAMORFOZA is the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages. A change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means. In the intermediary stage called the Imago, within the cocoon the original organism is dissolved completely and cells called 'imaginal cells' start to appear out of thin air. These cells are attacked as if they were a virus by the 'host cells' but eventually enough of them come together to form the body of the next organism.

This training explored in a youth work context how 'creative citizens' are like these 'imaginal cells', appearing and actively forming new social structures sometimes against huge resistance from the old and dissolving structures. SLT was presented as a way of supporting young people through this time of total uncertainty and imminent dissolution. A climate that has a direct and indirect impact on our mental and physical health.SLT was presented as a cultural youth work approach that advocates a new awareness of Europe as the hub of this global transformation. A transformation whose seeds were in the unification of Europe, a flame of hope in the shadow of the world wars, and it was only appropriate that the training should occur in Serbia and bring together participants from countries who were recently at war.

Each day followed the stages of Metamorphosis and used processes that are part of the Context Oriented Theatre approach to theatre to bring awareness in the group of their own perceptions of themselves, each other and their environment. Through deconstructing sense by sense how we construct reality we were able to ‘catch in flight’ the illusions we might have about the world and the illusion of separation.

But grounding the whole process, and avoiding the kind of naval gazing of therapy, was the fact that this was all a process of research to produce material for a sensory labyrinth theatre performance – which is a path that takes a traveller (audience member) through a series of sensory installations or portals.
The group were challenged to create the presentation in very short time and recognise the importance of co-operating calmly to succeed. This was provoked even in experienced practitioners when the trainer (on the day which corresponded with total dissolution – ‘Histoblast’) dissolved the structure of the labyrinth that had previously been established, forcing everyone to re-think.

An added item to the programme involved testing the sensory journeys prepared with pre-school children. This was to demonstrate the importance of gentleness in presenting the sensory portals to the travellers.

Outcomes of the activity

Of these objectives, we most certainly succeeded with the first three and inspired further collaboration between promoters. This in turn will lead to better achievement of the fourth objective. The training in itself could not go far enough in achieving this fourth aim. There is so much work to do, especially in Serbia!

The training explored the themes of Metamorphosis in particular how young people can be supported to make the change from child to adult in this precarious economic and social climate that we find ourselves needing to confront. Metamorphosis became the operative word for this training, with participants reporting that they had indeed gone through some kind of transformation. Not only in their attitude to art and culture and what is possible through art but also in terms of their awareness of what European aspirations of togetherness of nations can feel like in reality; and indeed how healthy the holistic perspective promulgated through this work is to mind, body and spirit.

The training was uncompromising in following the stages of metamorphosis, challenging the group through a level of dissolution of identity, concepts for group process and development of ‘performance’ that challenged everyone to step out of their comfort zones. This felt very much like a ‘rites of passage’ for young and older participants, and thus was able to give experiential learning in relation to transition intoadulthood.

Sensory Labyrinth Theatre and the process of creating it proved again to be a powerful experience for the majority of participants, and according to recent feedback resonates long afterwards, energising individuals, groups, and entire communities. It touches on something very deep in its transforming nature; something significant in the re-orientation of self in society, arts and healing.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

I was co-trainer and organisator of the project.

I worked on this training for 10 days as a full time trainer.

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