Pilot session in Serbia n°1 : users of psychiatric services in Novi Sad
While thinking about marginalised groups in our society in Serbia and who could benefit the most from working with us on these sessions, we, in Kulturanova, came to an agreement to work with users of psychiatric services. We connected with Patria, an amazing NGO that works with people who have been hospitalised before and have some kind of a psychiatric diagnosis. Some of them are homeless, most of them on the verge of poverty. Amazing volunteers from Patria meet with them two times a week in their little club called Kompas where they do many workshops and help integrate them into the society.
One month before the workshops started, our trainer Jelena Galović visited them once a week in Kompas and helped them get familiarised with the material and the ways we will work. This preparation was really beneficial as it helped them gain trust and got them motivated for a creative process.
Jelena together with Attila Antal led the workshops at the beginning of April. Objective of the workshops was testing out the contemporary drama methodology ANTYGONE, but also encouraging creativity, focus, sense of purpose and opening to the public issues and the stigma that these people face everyday. All of these people knew each other so the first step of group forming was already done, but the issue with people who have been so marginalised and shunned from society is that their trust in anyone outside their circle is a difficult thing.
On the first day we started with getting to know each other a bit better through various trust and liberation exercises, which help the participants to get more comfortable and slowly open up. We continued with initiating discussions about freedom and power in our society and in the world. Discussions about our goals and activities of the workshop.
We saw that the role play of the main characters woke up some kind of a spark in most of the participants. That putting themselves in a position of power, a position in which some of them have never been before, was very beneficial and liberating for them.
We worked at the pace that was possible as all of the participants are on a regular medication which can cause them to be really slow and a bit spaced out, so this work required a lot of patience and adaptability. We saw an enormous shift in their confidence, engagement, focus and openness. They were very enthusiastic to express themselves, happy to yel, scream, tell trier poetry and do the final performance.
Although it was not the focus of our work, at the end of 5 days we made a 40 min performance of various improvisational scenes that were created during the workshop and we showed it to a small audience.
The main outcome was that all the participants found a sense of purpose, and have a desire to continue working with us, so we have decided to form a theatrical troupe and make more plays and performances with them.