Majo Bejarano, Proyecto Colibrí – Acompañamiento Creativo, Psychologist, Dance therapist, Performer (Costa Rica)
The lockdown caught me living with my fellow Choreomundus Students in London. It was an intense moment lived away from home, In a place I just had reached and I had to possible scenarios: fly back to a Costa Rica I have left a while ago or stay and rebuild a sense of home with these crazy fellows from all parts of the world and to whom I was not ready to let go. I had an intense process of building myself as my home and my friends as my family, taking care of each other. Art saved us when my friend Jorge Poveda initiated a performance act at 4pm of March 24th in the garden, where everyone could see from their windows. This act inaugurated what later he called “Emergency Festival: Performing the Pandemics” (Here´s the amazing register and artistic reelaboration of it by my friend Jorge Poveda: https://emergencyfestival.wordpress.com/). The attention paid at 4pm everyday to someone dancing their fears, their beliefs, their roots, our friendships generated a sense of belonging, and turned the garden into a point of encounter where we could have each other in movement. Some people had never performed in public in dance… some other had never collaborated to create with each other. Art gave us a sense of home and brought us a sense of continuity in a rupture process that is still on but now we are able to deal with the HOPE only dancing together brings.
David Diamond, Theatre for Living (Vancouver, Canada)
In terms of my work and community, (and theatre in general here) everything stopped. I had to cancel the 22nd Annual TfL Trainings for the summer and instead offered 6 days of 2 hours per day, discussion sessions about Theatre for Living with a great group of people from across Canada, the US, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Ghana, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, India and Singapore. We did this WITHOUT BREAKOUT ROOMS and it was a joy.
Jeff Gordon, Dramatherapist, Therapeutic Clown (Israel)
The pandemic in Israel has amplified the social and economic divisions that have existed for many years. Lines have been further drawn between the ultra- religious and secular communities who have different visions as to the nature of the society. The political left and the right have each seen each other as a threat to the whole structure of the social system and the wealthy and privileged have flagrantly displayed their riches, while many are struggling to put food on the table, with unemployment reaching a historical high.
In this highly volatile situation, verging on social chaos, the elderly the physically and mentally challenged and those facing high levels of emotional anxiety both adults and children alike, find themselves increasingly physically and socially isolated. In response to this myself and the community of therapeutic clowns, here in Israel, many trained by me, have conducted whats app video calls, to connect to people in their homes who are in need of emotional support. A hotline has been set up and I have shared humanitarian clowning space ,absurd and nonsensical, joyful and loving encounters, with people of all ages. In addition I have been involved with the development of the Global Play Brigade bringing play to people across geographical borders encouraging them to give voice to their deepest concerns around the pandemic and co -creating a vision for positive social change beyond the present situation. This has involved facilitating play based sessions and working with a team to support continued development and implementation of these offerings.
David Kawanuka, Hope for Youth (Uganda)
Like all other communities in the country, our community too experienced a lot of challenges since the lockdown in March.
Hope For Youth- Uganda (HFYU) is a non-profit organisation founded by Mr. Peter Nsubuga, its Director, ten years ago. Our project area has a population of over 5000 Children and Youth who are largely vulnerable, destitute and socially underprivileged. The lockdown didn’t leave our community exceptional, but affected it with no food as people’s work and income were much affected.
This alarmed Hope For Youth- Uganda as one of its objectives is to provide support and community services to community members especially MOTHERS/ GUARDIANS responsible for taking care of the children. With the little support we got from friends, as our moto says, “small things with greater love “, we managed to extend it to at least 50 families of the aged grandparents whom we identified were seriously in need of food. The lockdown has affected much our programmes because of the limited movements set by the ministry of health to fight the covid-19. These affected include the community outreach programme where our Youth group, “The All Stars”, always visit villages to educate the masses on the issues identified as affecting the community wellbeing, for example, the importance of keeping proper hygiene and sanitation. They do this through music and drummer.
Countrywide, many pregnancies have been registered in school girls according to the ministry of education. We pray our female youth members are not victims. We’re now opening with our programme, Development School for the Youth (DSY) where the Youth sit once a Month guided by their administrators, to discuss ideas on issues which the organisation think need to be addressed. Now the current covid-19 situation is the issue as we need to check on how the lockdown has affected our organisation and the community at large. And then the way forward.
Steven Licardi, #CoupDeMot, Therapist, Poet (USA)
Nestled on Monacan and Tutelo occupied lands in the Blue Ridge Mountains of SW Virginia in the U.S., though not untouched, I have been able to work as an artist and a therapist throughout these many months. My heart-home, however, is in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY, the most diverse neighborhood in the world, which became the epicenter of the epicenter of the pandemic early on.
Within a month of the outbreak, I began offering pro bono / in-kind psychotherapy via telehealth to artists with Okay, Let’s Unpack This and the Jane Addams Collective. Further, I began working as a co-conspirator with the Institute for the Development of Human Arts (IDHA) around the need for therapists and healers to center lived-experiences and decolonize their practices.
Yes, and… At the beginning of the pandemic, I constructed hand-washing signs using scraps of poems and contributed to the collaborative arts piece Distant Bodies: Season 2, Episode 10. For National Poetry Month, I hosted a Virtual Writing Workshop with the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, responded to a writing challenge by WNYC Studios and Gothamist, and participated in a collaboration between Double Edge Theatre and WRSI – 93.9 The River. Beyond this, I have hosted several virtual performances of my project #CoupDeMot, which premiered at PPLG in 2019, including Performing the World Happenings, Science on Tap NRV, and Psychotherapy St. Louis.
In the summer, my partner – educator and theatre-maker Courtney Surmanek – and I began “Window Theatre”, incorporating theatre games, improv, clowning, poetry, and singing to cultivate relationships with the local elders, alongside co-collaborators Corinne Shelor and Dr. Ozzie Abaye.
To come full circle, my poems “Suburban Legend for White America” and “For Queens” were featured in Call & Response, a community arts project from Flushing Town Hall in Flushing, Queens, NY.
Uri Noy Meir, ImaginAction, Facilitator of Theatre of the Oppressed and Social Presencing Theatre (Italy, Israel)
Fortunately, the little town where we live in central Italy has not suffered any cases of Coronavirus as of yet. We have seen our local and regional projects have been slowing down and adapting to the new social distancing measures. In fact, it has been a period of pause and rewiring the creative energies and responding to many changes the global crisis is provoking.
I have been holding spaces for exchange, practice, and experiment in the various global communities of practice I am part of, seeing the crisis as an opportunity to connect and co-create across borders. I co-hosted the Joker Exchange Online Gatherings, the Unfolding the Invisible Practice group, and the Arts-based sense-making research Hub as part of the Gaia Journey, I presented and facilitated Terra-Adama-Earth performance as part of SODA festival, In-Bodied Memories interactive Video Art as part of Coming Down to Earth Conflict transformation summit and Unlocking our Dreams workshops as part of ImaginAction’s summer school and the Dragon Dreaming Confestival, I started teaching Newspaper Theatre online at FHWS University and am now co-creating learning program via the new ImaginAction platform.
Ilaria Olimpico, The Albero, Facilitator of Theatre and Storytelling (Italy)
Coronavirus March 2020:
Reality manifested stretching in between Blind Panic and Great Hope,
Retreating Silence and Crazy Infodemic.
In the beginning of the lockdown,
I could feel my body split in at least two parts:
the low part connected to the Earth, finally breathing;
the upper part confused, staging the worse scenario and the best scenario:
Death and authoritarian management of fear and pandemic.
Pause and wise co-creating possibilities from crisis.
I missed and keep missing wise ears, wise eyes, wise hands.
I could have time to retreat, reflect and write. Also about my work. I discovered the potential of connecting across borders without moving. During the lockdown, we connected through participative storytelling meetings online. The first group was a prototype of how we can transfer a workshop in presenceinto a meeting online keeping the warm sensation of sitting in a circle. The second group was a women circle exploring life passages weaving images, stories, body resonance and creative writing (https://thealbero.wordpress.com/2020/09/29/storie-che-riconnettono-cerchio-di-donne-ai-tempi-del-lockdown-testimonianze/). The third group was really a gift: a group of refugees and Italians. We regained our capacity of imagination, we learnt how to weave together stories welcoming the visions and the perceptions of the others. Where I can’t get with my rationality, bring me there with your imagination! (https://thealbero.wordpress.com/2020/06/30/dove-non-riesco-a-vedere-io-portamici-tu-2/) Meanwhile, the project funded by Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) was slowing down, trying to find its smart version online. And we did it. A workshop about recognizing skills and gifts for migrants.Apparently, more distant in the local community, I could connect more with the international community, through the Joker Exchange Event, through ImaginAction Summer School.
Many questions arise from these experiences: How are we combining the emerging, surprising power of connecting online across borders andthe basic need to connect in a physical way there where we are with our body and senses? How these two movements (across borders online and coming back to local and physical) can strengthen each other?How can we transfer the capacity of our body in its feature of sensing and facilitating through senses to the online dimension?
Eleni Tsompanaki, Professor of Dance, Community Dance Artist, University of Thessaly (Greece)
‘It was an awkward and unprecedented experience. However, instead of allowing fear and stress to enter my life, I decided to take advantage of this situation. I gave time to pause, to be creative, to meditate…. Many of my students were not in the same position. They have found it hard to cope with these changes and struggled during quarantine.
I felt that I had to help my community revive their psychology. Therefore, I utilized, during our online classes, a creative teaching method of engaging them in something creative and expressive. We composed a choreography based on the lived experiences during quarantine. They had to decode their emotions and the state they were in, and express it through movement. They used their cell phones to capture their compositions and all material were then edited by a professional, so as to created a short video dance. This procedure helped us support each other, express ourselves and release tension.’