9. 5. 2015, Blog

Výměna cirkusových her v Belgii

Lektorský tým Cirqueonu je mezinárodní a protože na školení vysíláme i jeho zahraniční členy, přinášíme reportáž od Marca z belgického workshopu ENCI zaměřeného na cirkusové hry v angličtině.

The workshop “Games Played in Circus Education” took place in “Cirkus in Beweging”, Leuven, Belgium, between the 21th and 26th of march 2015. This workshop was lead by Isabel van Maele, Jonathan Dragt and Fred Versonnen, around the thematics of learning and sharing games in circus education, designing new games and theatre in circus games.

As it is often question of playing games in circus lessons (and not only in circus), it quickly came to the point of creating a database, accessible on internet, listing as many games and exercises as possible and their description, organized by characteristics. A first topic discussed during this workshop was the way to organize and label the games that each participants brought, knew or created. This led to the creation of the “Bucket List”: a simple blue plastic bucket containing the first drafts of circus games, and their explanation, which would be tested (understand: played) all through the week. Beyond the recurrent Bucket List playing were organized specific events led by
the hosts. Those moments were mostly dedicated to just play, but proposed a wide range of fields and points of view about the fact of playing within circus education.

As we played like professional kids in a giant playground, I cannot list all the games. And it would be boring. But most of them are, or will be accessible on the net.

Reflecting and sharing.

Beyond the wonderful experience of having a workshop about playing games for circus education, was an other goal: creating a database on the internet about it. The objective was that each teacher, willing to use games in his/her lesson, could have a look to this website and have the choice among activities according to his/her requirements. Thus, the first questions were: what kind of requirements a teacher can have? How to fully and clearly characterise a game?
Sessions of thinking and reflecting about this topic were regularly organized and it gradually came to a rational analysis of each game trough different questions. Those different questions should cover all the components of a game and offer keywords, or tags, in order to find a game easily. A first differentiation was made between a basic structuring of the game, and its categorization. More about structuring of games can be found here: http://www.circusgames.net
This website will be filled with games that people decide to share, sessions of games exchange and collecting and reflecting were organized daily during the workshop. Those games exchanges led to the creation of the Bucket List (see next section), which was the initial collection of games that would be played and discussed during the week.

An afternoon was also dedicated to the design of new games, in groups, according to our specialisation and what have been learnt. By putting together the energy of a group around a common direction and motivation, and a bit of imagination, we saw that the process of game creation is easily accessible and can lead (most of all the time) to a very interesting game.

The Bucket List.

Each participant of the workshop was asked to write down five games on a paper with its full explanation. Those papers, properly folded, were put into the Bucket List.
All through the week, each participant randomly picked up one paper from the bucket and explained it to the rest of the group. The game was played the way it was described. Then, after the game was played, the “author” of the game could correct, if necessary, or add, or clarify a point. The use of this method necessitated a rigorous and clear writing of the rules, and also, while being played, allowed unexpected variations, points of view or interpretations of what was written.
From the Bucket List, approximately a lot of games were played, showing the professionalism and the hard working spirit of the group. The games played during the workshop can be found on http://www.circusgames.net.
A variation around the Bucket List playing consisted in taking a game and, in a group, proposing of a way to play it adding theatre in it.

Specific events.

The workshop was brightened up with several special events, making our stay even more playful and funny. As a message for “games are everywhere”, our hosts hid several playing cards here and there in their space on the very first night, as a welcoming game. Our task was to find themall, which was the perfect way to make us discover and explore the location. Moreover, those cards were decorated with patterns and symbols, allowing us to make groups. For each group formed, a little game was proposed.

The following day, for the first day of workshop, we were welcomed by Isabel and Jono disguised like very serious Game Masters, and we were invited to dress up too thanks to their amazing costumes wardrobe. The matter was indeed serious, it was stock exchange day.
We were all asked to find a problematic situation in which the use of game could help. For instance, I remember the summer camp in the wood with something like 12 teenagers, including only one girl. Question: how can we make this trip safe and suitable for everybody? From our “stands” (a barrel or a gymnastics prop), by groups of two or three, one is going to “buy” (with alternative, non governmental money) an interesting question, and is proposing a game-solution, while the other is keeping the stand and trying to sell his/her questions as expensive as possible. Each game-solution, to be accepted, had to be validated by the stock exchange cautious masters, obliging every gamedealer to have a very convincing speech.

Games are often played to relieve the pressure, to entertain, or to warm up, but are rarely used as skilled-specific way of teaching. Actually, it was the first time I saw games being usedduring a whole aerial lesson. From warming up to learning new positions, everything was made using games: Pictionary, Memory, Twister or simply playing cards, the fun side of it was always put forward and the use of competition even made jugglers sweat! The game of “catch the teacher” was especially funny: the teacher was running while students, by pair, were trying to catch her. If so, she gave a playing card. The symbol on it (spades, heart, clubs, diamonds) was referring to an activity,
and the value was the number of time this exercise should be done. Another exercise was the Memory: a set of cards, face down, was lying on the floor. On each of them was drawn a position on trapeze or silks. On every turn, a duo picked up two cards and did the position drawn on the card. If the two cards are similar, they earn one point. Indeed, with a playful mind, games are everywhere.

A night was dedicated to a tour of Leuven with the storyteller Fred. Nothing much to say about circus in here, just old bricks, cold wind and a complete dive into the olden times. The power of imagination can be easily summoned up by a good narrator, and we all experienced it that night.
But later, we had the opportunity to see how a good narration could change it all. Fred was in charge of a class entitled “from game to play”. Being at the end of the workshop, he got a tired group, people sleeping in every corner or taking massive doses of coffee (playing is a very demanding activity, see how kids sleep). Instead of rushing everybody, he brought soft tagging games, without running, then moved on to a balancing exercise with a big peacock feather, then adding some kind of competition, still with balancing with the peacock feather, and finally, two tagging games; before anyone noticed anything, we were all completely awake. It was not a series of games, but a delicate flow of words which energy grew more and more. Later, he admitted that his last tagging game, the most energetic, was supposed to be first. But the group was so slow that he decided to change it all, to accompany us to the desired level of energy, and give us, in the same time, a good lesson about group leading.
The last game, were we all became monsters, was a wonderful experience of giving up the world and just being guided by a voice. A dark atmosphere, an appropriate music, a leading voice, and the
infinite power of imagination is once more demonstrated.
The very last game was: A night at the palace. The title is far from being transparent, it actually means nothing. This was basically two hours of playing with two full bags of newspapers. Covering the floor, ourselves, body-building models, statues, tagging games, a very big range of activities were proposed, from the simplest to the craziest ones, and only the limitless enthusiasm of Kris, our host, as a guideline. A perfect firework to close this colourful week.

This workshop differed from traditional “games exchange” in the way that it proposed a new approach in considering the use of games within circus classes; no longer like a tool for entertaining, but a powerful engine for leading/conducting a group. In my mind, it also revealed to me the possibility to work with a group without the vertical relationship teacher/student. By declaring the game, the teacher doesn’t need authority to bring an exercise, and the self-motivation of the student becomes more intensive and spontaneous. Imagination makes it all. Games can be used everywhere, in almost all situations, to reach any kind of goals. Are just needed a playful mind, somehow a close attention to the type of group we are facing, and a certain degree of letting go. Small kids are playing games to discover and understand the world, then bigger kids can do the same for circus! (As serious this big kid might be.)

Marc Verhille

Pictures are taken from Roman Dobusch website: