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they are in the process of trying to learn a new language, adjust to different social customs and often have to deal with the evident mistrust of the host country’s citizens. In short, the group gathers and shares knowledge and experiences which vary greatly, and it is the guides’ task to soften and smooth this asymmetry. If we see the idea of “play” as being central to the theatre (indeed in English and French the words “play” and “jouer” have meanings which are also synonymous with the theatre), then the game in theatre, with its unbridled dynamism and largely non-verbal modalities, its inclusive modality which is both impartial and welcoming, can immediately act as a binding agent for the group. By introducing small exercises and physical improvisations, using the body and voice, where everybody is engaged but where any possible reticence or shyness is also respected, the game creates a common space that welcomes everyone, together with both their individual weaknesses or abilities. In this way, the asymmetry is soon defeated. Some of the elements reported by the great French writer and sociologist Roger Caillois in his classic ‘Men, Play and Games’, are useful in highlighting the advantage that the practice of playing offers to a theatre workshop like this. Playing is free, so no one can be forced to participate; it is non-productive because it does not create material or immaterial goods for anyone; (of course Caillois does not refer to professionally conducted games, for example sports); it is uncertain, in the sense that the outcome cannot be decided at the outset; it is regulated, in the sense that, during the game, the normal rules of life are suspended to make way for different rules, those required by the game (even in terms of just taking part). Playing transforms the workshop into holiday time for the participants, interrupting everyday life through shared ritual or convention, offering an “other” space, where the usual social categories and consolidated points of view can be overturned, prejudices and mental attitudes undermined, and where opinions and preconceived convictions can be reversed. Common place perceptions, or recurring interpretations of facts and circumstances, are transformed into places in common for festive and recreational participation (in the etymological sense “vivify”, to “reanimate giving a second existence”): the theatre is transformed into a container for sharing people’s experiences, invigorating dialogue and exchange. The energy that emanates from the game becomes contagious, contaminating all the members. The role of the guide is in no way protagonist, as the collective identity of the group takes the foreground, sustained by the idea of free and unconditional celebration which is strengthened by everyone’s youthful energy. The decision to work on ‘Pinocchio’ in 2016 strengthened this momentum: ‘Pinocchio’ is a powerful depiction of those who do not want to be forced to compromise in life, of those who try to keep their own independent space, of those who try to emancipate themselves from visions that are too restrictive and narrow, which, in the original novel, are left to the adult world or to a limited and narrow pedagogy (that of the Talking Cricket). In the context of a group composed mostly of foreigners however, these elements immediately become ambiguous perceptions, concepts that are taken for granted, that rest on the placid acceptance of inflexible and unmovable certainties: commonplace clichés indeed.

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Profile for Border_Crossings

THE PROMISED LAND: Intercultural Learning with Refugees and Migrants  

Project e-book for THE PROMISED LAND - a cross-sectoral project funded by the Erasmus + programme of the European Union. The book explores...

THE PROMISED LAND: Intercultural Learning with Refugees and Migrants  

Project e-book for THE PROMISED LAND - a cross-sectoral project funded by the Erasmus + programme of the European Union. The book explores...

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