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CYC-Online Issue 38 MARCH 2002 / BACK
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teachers and students

Building courage through creativity! Art, drama & movement workshops in South Africa

Three Danish teachers from the Peter Sabroe Seminarium, Denmark, working with art, drama and movement visited SA in September to take the next step in their exchange programme with NACCW.

Gert Hansen, Thomas Kruse & Grethe Sandholm

Art, movement and play and drama were the subjects of the workshops in which enthusiastic students and child and youth care workers participated. The aim is to develop the courage to interact with children and youth by doing art, drama or play. Involve yourself and in this way the children become inspired and encouraged to try these mediums themselves.

Facilitating the workshops in an interactive way is very important. Very often the important thing is not what you present but the way you present it. This is one of the key points in childcare work. One may have some ideas about what you want to do with a certain child. It may be interesting and necessary for the child but you have to find out how you can involve the child in what you have imagined. You have to see to be aware of the child. That means that you have to train your own awareness. Training these subjects is about interaction and reflection working in the moment. What is happening with me doing these exercises, and what kind of improvement is important for me to work on? Do I have to investigate the resistance I feel joining the interaction or do I feel comfortable doing things but I need more experience with materials, tools, certain exercises?

Gert Hansen comments on forum theatre as a technique
Forum theatre is a dramatic interactive game based on dialogue between actors and spectators. A group develops a drama on a particular problem and the solution of a problem that is difficult. The problem has to be of such a nature that you can create a drama a conflict which may have different solutions. And the group has to be very clear that the spectators can tell from the action what the issue is about and what kind of errors and mistakes the characters make. The group plays the drama and is asked to play it again. The second time the spectators can stop the drama and interact in the play. In this way another kind of dialogue is created. It is not a theoretical discussion, you try with body and mind different ways of handling the conflict. In our workshops we shared many types of conflict connected to social care work. The participants were childcare workers, and true to the basic idea of involvement and interaction you work with problems which the participants have experienced themselves.

Thomas Kruse comments on art workshops facilitated: Creating a Safe Park
I worked directly with children in the Safe Park project in Umbumbulu outside Durban. The project took place over a weekend and was a daring experiment. We fenced in a field, the children decorated the wooden fence built of pallets, while grandmothers told stories and students from Natal Technikon organised dances and songs. NACCW took care of food, refreshments and coordinated the whole activity culminating in a fine inauguration ceremony on Sunday. My job was to organise the decoration, especially distributing the paint, and give inspiration and advice during the work. An incredible energy and dynamic spirit prevailed. When we left Umbumbulu, I was tired, but I had a warm happy feeling that everybody involved had done their best to secure a good start for the Safe Park in South Africa.

Students and Trainers
I changed between collective paintings on wall size sheets of paper and individual picture making. One exercise was a collective painting without speaking to each other, and listening to music. To some it was a very powerful experience that supported the idea that picture making is a universal language. It contrasted the following exercise, where the participants negotiated and decided on a theme and layout before painting. The conditions in many institutions in SA are poor for art-workshops. This made the well-equipped workshop, with acrylic paint, brushes, paper, chalk, tape, and scissors etc, a little paradise to some participants. There was a wonderful energy, concentrated and joyful, with a lot of stories and interpretations when we made our comments on the results. Some of the paintings were so powerful and well composed, that I wanted to frame them and take them home with me.

It was a wonderful experience to work together with childcare workers from all over South Africa. We have learned about and been reminded of the importance of commitment in childcare work. This balance between personal involvement and professional distance is an important issue. We came back with many questions about our way of working as professionals in the child care field.

Coming from a very small and homogeneous country we felt overwhelmed by the dynamics of South Africa. The contrasts, the beauty, the problems, and the commitment, the spirit. We left with the feeling, that together we could make a difference.


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