After last summer’s Academy, the trainees started their months-long local work – the Hungarian team (Heléna Ménesi, Szilvia Markos, Viktória Csaba, Zsófia Kozma and Zalán Haragonics) with Indahouse Hungary in Hernádszentandrás. But how is the joint work going? We asked the trainees about this:
👉 What is the most exciting thing about local work? And what is the hardest?
Heléna: The most exciting thing is that I never know what to expect, children can always move in both positive and negative ways. That is also the hardest part. It’s hard sometimes to hear them talking to each other.
Szilvi: The exciting challenge is to find a common way forward, to create forms and themes that we can engage the kids with and go deeper with them. It’s hard because we meet so infrequently, so it’s harder to keep the process moving, to keep the rhythm, to keep the interest. Now that we’re missing even more time due to the viral situation, it’s even more challenging.
Viki: It is exciting to get to know a different side of young people. So far, I’ve mostly only seen them in learning situations or learned about them through casual conversations. It’s interesting to see them in roles or solving problems. The hardest thing is to keep their interest and confidence.
Zsófi: It’s really exciting to start getting to know the guys, unfortunately the COVID has interrupted that. I’m looking forward to continue and to keep working on how to create a safe space for them to dare to be themselves, to find their own motivation in working together, to give us their trust. And I think the most exciting is also the most difficult at the same time.
Zalán: What is most exciting is the way we get to know young people’s minds, how they see the world, their thinking about their age group, friendship, love and sexuality step by step. We’re experimenting with what really resonates with them, with what we can engage them with – so the experimentation itself is exciting. And the hardest thing is the same: often not finding the right way to engage them, to get them thinking, to activate them. Local isolation and generational differences also make this work difficult.
👉What group do you work with?
Viki: The group consists of 10 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, 6 boys and 4 girls. Unfortunately we have never been full so far, the boys are much more active in attending the sessions. They are all secondary school students, aged between 15 and 18. They have known each other for a long time, but they are not a close-knit group, although there are even some relatives and friends among them.
Zsófi: The team usually consists of 6-7 boys and 1-2 girls. There are two louder guys who usually take the boys with them and they joke and troll a lot. The girls are quieter still because they’ve only been there for one session, so they might be a bit stressed. Of the boys, the youngest is 15 and the oldest is 18. One of the girls and I had a little chat about writing a diary during one of the exercises and she asked me what I was writing.
Zalán: We work with Roma youth (15-18 years old) from Borsod county.
👉How does Summer Academy help your current work? What can you benefit from what you learned there?
Heléna: From the first time we took some of the exercises we learned in summer. There were some that we didn’t apply at the right time, which was premature. Some, however, worked great.
Szilvi: We use the games and methods we learnt there according to the purpose and theme of the session.
Viki: We try to use what we learnt at the summer academy, but more often we use methods we have known and learnt in the past. For now, we are only trying to build small bits and pieces from other methodologies in, but we hope to be able to use more in the future. Personally, I would definitely like to involve dance elements/movement into the sessions somehow.
Zsófi: Above the Summer Academy, I have only been exposed to one type of playwriting method in more detail (through Viola Spolin – Irondale Ensemble Project). The Academy really opened up this world for me, we get a lot of ideas from there in planning our sessions, we can use it as a reference, ‘You know that thing we did with Uros… oh, didn’t you do that? Or not exactly like that?’ That way I think the planning is smoother than if we didn’t have such an intense shared experience with the team. There was also the fact that we tried movement exercises inspired by the summer work and learned from that that we shouldn’t have done it that way or not exactly at that time.
Zalán: I think it is mainly one of the central elements of Bethlenfalvy Ádám’s workshop, the story-centricity of TIE and the use of conventions, that we could use so far; but it was a very exciting (though not the most positive) attempt to use the exercises of Sophie Bulbulyan’s workshop, and I think we were also somewhat influenced by Uros Mladenovic’s workshop. I hope that we can make more use of what we learnt at the Academy in the future.
👉What is the most important experience you have had so far in local work that you would share with other partners’ teams?
Heléna: My most important experience is that you cannot sit back. You should never take it for granted with teenagers that we have now caught their attention. Because two minutes later, the world could be turned upside down, but they could also be attracked in by something we hadn’t thought of.
Szilvi: Maybe that there is no perfect recipe to follow, the most important thing is to be attentive, patient and curious. And it’s very useful to be able to discuss our experiences after each session, and build on them.
Viki: It was an important experience after the first time, how many things can go wrong, even if we prepare very thoroughly. If we could repeat the first time, I would spend much more time getting to know each other and presenting the project. Another important experience was that the scenes (whether the young people are present as spectators or as participants) are very captivating. They are always very enjoyable, and most of them like to be in them.
Zsófi: It is especially exciting to talk about the difficult start and the issue of trust, which we actually did during the joint supervision of the 4 countries (with Compagnie DK-BEL, Divadlo Archa and Kulturanova) in early November. Since then, unfortunately, we have not been to Hernádszentandrás because Indahouse Hungary has stopped the sessions due to the epidemic. I would also like to share that it was very useful to get to know the team during the summer and that I am very grateful to Piroska Móga, Ádám Bethlenfalvy and Pro Progressione for taking such good care of our team since the summer and helping us with anything that comes up.
Zalán: It is very important to gain trust and develop mutual sympathy. This is a zero point without which you cannot move forward, or even start a process. It’s very important to get to know them a little bit and find the topics, stories, thoughts or emotions that really engage and interest them. It is even important not to consider it as a failure if something does not work as it was planned, or if it ends badly. It must be understood that this is part of the process from which we learn and experience. We should also try to be flexible with our plans and goals.
👉Are there any questions you would ask the other teammates?
Heléna: I’m really looking forward to hearing from others. It is always helpful to me, for example, when other professionals share how they cope with the difficulties they encounter. Even by thematising specific situations.
Viki: It would be nice to experience more of the French team’s methodology, or perhaps see them working with children.
Zsófi: I’m curious about any experiences, we asked them at the joint meeting if they have ever experienced that half the team left the session, what they did in such cases, how they relate to the people in their group within and beyond the session (e.g. if they work with children, are they friends on Facebook?) how they deal with conflicts within the group, bullying. I even had to write to one of the group facilitators to send me a piece of material she had shown over the summer.