Friday, February 13, 2015

Another Workshop Update from Kenya

During this workshop, for adults from ten different tribes in Kenya, Jessy Hodder facilitated 11 different activities from our Theatre for Social Development Training Manual. Keep reading to learn the participants' favorite activities and Jessy's thoughts on this experience! 

I facilitated a workshop today (3 hours) for 33 Kenyan adults (20 women and 13 men).  The youngest was 24, the oldest was 41, and the average age was 29.  They originated from 10 different tribes.  I originally thought this might create a little friction, but they seemed to work very well together.  They were not at all shy.  Most of them had great self-confidence, and they all wanted to be involved in the activities.  I was pleasantly surprised!  


Passing Energy 
Sports, especially those involving balls, are very popular in Kenya.  While they enjoyed throwing the ball of energy, I found they especially loved kicking the ball of energy around like a soccer ball.  I think this really underlines their love for soccer here.  Soccer is one of the top pastimes in Kenya.

The Wind Blows for . . . 
It took a few tries for them to understand the point of the game, but once they got it, they had a blast.  They told me afterwards that they want to use this activity in their own communities to get to know their people better.  However, I did find it interesting that if a man and a woman had to fight for a seat, the woman would generally allow the man to take it.  This meant that a lot of women ended up in the center of the circle!

The Prop Game 
They were very creative with the items that I put in front of them.  I introduced each item as "magic" - when a person touches the "magic" object, it takes on a new function/ it turns into something else.  A water bottle transformed into everything from a shoe polisher to a cell phone.  They were also very keen to move around and get down on the floor for their mimes.  However, the idea of "magic" in Kenya is an interesting one, particularly because of the history of shamans and witch doctors.  Magic, in many ways, is very real to people here, and they see it as a powerful force.  I think this might be something interesting to consider. 

Group Stop, Start, and Jump
The group listened SO intently, and they were very concentrated on getting it right.  They didn't want to stand out or let the group down.  Again - group mentality.  

Machines with a Theme
It was clear that some of their movements and sounds emulated parts of machines that can be found in town - drilling machines, generators, welding machines, and maize grinders.  

Secret Friends and Enemies 
Since I was shut down last time when I mentioned the idea of "enemy," I asked the adults to decide what we should call the "friend" and the "enemy."  They decided on "angel" and "disease"/ "death."  I thought this was an interesting choice, as death is something very common here.  It is a reality.  It is something much easier for them to talk about and confront than the idea of an "enemy."  

Awooga! 
This was a great activity to get them moving after lunch when they seemed a little sluggish.  Because of their skirts, it was a little difficult for some of the women to do a star jump.  They still gave it a good college try!

Making Group Shapes and Scenes 
The way they made a sofa set with their bodies was identical to the way in which the female survivors formed theirs in my last workshop.  I thought this was very interesting and may suggest similar perspectives between the groups.

Trust Walks 
When I asked the participants to pair up with someone, they chose partners of all types: men were with men; women were with women; and men were with women.  I was surprised to see some males pair with females.  I made the space in which they could walk smaller and smaller, until it became very difficult to steer clear of other leader/follower teams.  It made them giggle when they bumped into someone, but it caused the leaders to focus even more on keeping their follower safe.  

Snowballs 
As it was a bigger group, and our circle was very large, I asked them to throw their snowballs into the center and scramble to pick up a different one from the pile. We didn't have enough time to write out full stories, so I just had them write words or phrases that they could act out for the group.  The two categories which I felt were most successful were animals and objects.  One by one, as they felt led, participants would enter the circle and act them out.  All of the animals were those which you often see in our village (chickens, cows, goats, dogs, etc.), and the objects were all things that you could find on a village homestead (tree, gas stove, etc.)

Creating Puppets out of Found Objects 
They worked in four groups, each of which produced one or two puppets.  Materials included paper, cardboard, small boxes, toilet paper rolls, plastic grocery bags, trash bags, egg cartons, tape, scissors, and pens.  These are all objects that can easily be found on the streets.  They worked very well together, and they remained engrossed in the activity for at least 30 minutes.  When asked to use their puppets to create a small play, I found it interesting that the representatives from each group (puppeteers) were all male.  The plays all had moral significance and referenced God.


When asked which activities they enjoyed most, they identified the following:
1.  The Wind Blows for . . .
2.  Snowballs
3.  Machines with a Theme
4.  Passing Energy in a Circle
5.  Trust Walks

All in all, I was reminded that people draw upon what they know.  They do not often think outside of their immediate experience.  I think this is a good thing to remember when being creative so that we can find ways of helping participants think outside of the box.
  

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