Theatre in Africa – Space-Body-Escape

Our workshop leader Christel Gbaguidi from Benin put the focus on people – their conditions and circumstances – wherever they were from: Africa, Europe, Berlin, Rudolstadt, Benin, Gambia or Esslingen. It was not just a theory. We, the participants of his workshop, represented these people: some with, some without experiences as refugees. Some come from the European continent, others are of African origin; some are from a safe background, others are from an insecure environment. Here or there, they are legally or illegally. They have come in inflatable dinghies across the sea or they don’t know the sea. They fear being identified or they aim to show up. They live in apartments or in a gym that serves as accommodation for refugees. All these facts play a minor part when focusing on human being and recognizing and accepting the others as humans. Christel’s distinctive teaching methods in theatre pedagogy, respectively that of a direct approach, of discipline and appreciation created an atmosphere, which initiated openness towards each other and gave much food for thought. It was a perspective that made both points of view possible: mine and yours. All this happened quietly. One time we made use of a theatre pedagogical play, at other times we exercised to associate ideas or wrote texts or mutually examined pictures. We learned to jointly, yet differently, look at a situation and to transfer this situation to a set. There was neither goal-orientated pressure nor competition. However, there was a keen fight for a set of theatrical tools that would provide possibilities to understand each other. There were intense meetings during the breaks, filled with passionate revelation of desperation, of hopes, of the future and the past. Gbaguidis’s “Space-Body-Escape“ is a concept, that immediately affects all participants and likewise enables them to get down to the basics. We moved in spaces and numerous dimensions. It was great to find your personal silence among various perspectives and to be allowed to rest there. Nobody drove you out or sent you back. On the contrary, precisely this was the protected area that allowed us to create the theatrical scenes. It was the space of understanding, the room of innovation.

Babette Ulmer

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