This week's was one of those sessions that remind me that trauma survivors are natural artists. The world around us after our trauma is often almost unrecognisable as the same world in which we lived before it, and that gives us a heightened understanding of just how differently the same thing can be perceived by different people - which brings a level of empathy, open-mindedness and complexity to the creation space that is so exciting. Many of us also have unfinished childhoods to live, bringing bravery, fun, mischief and willingness for chaos into artistry. And this week, our visual arts co-facilitator's two children also shared the space - so there was a lot of that youthful energy to go around!
Building on last week's explorations of what makes a space 'spiritual', what makes a space 'safe', and the similarities and differences in what safe spirituality looks and sounds like to us, we thought about the settings of some of the scenes of the play and what impact they might make on our feelings of spiritual safety. For each setting, we created a 'human painting' of it with our bodies, then one by one came out of the painting to look at what was around us.
This image of a hospital room, with its tight focus and insularity, feels very different to the safeguarding office with its dispersed energy and singularity:
The family home mid-clearance was a room in which everyone could have been on different planets:
The atheist's living room infiltrated by faith, on the other hand, painted some very complex connected pictures:
Finally, the one that had the hardest resonance for survivors of spiritual trauma and led to the most involved discussion - emptiness:
How will our director and designers interpret these images when we come to set these scenes in rehearsal? I can't wait to find out.
One of those designers was in the room with us: Bahja Mahamed, the ray of sunshine we discovered through the Drummond Street Artists collective. She has never designed for the stage before, but at RAT we're all about finding artists who have insights, angles and energies into theatre that haven't been able to make their mark on it before. In the second part of the session, Bahja brought out clay, wood and glass circles, paint pens and paper (in response to the materials reflections we had the previous week), and supported us in capturing some of the feelings, thoughts and images we've had in the work so far in them.
Next week, she'll be with us again, and we'll look at how we can bring everyone's miniature pieces together to create one unified collage. Will it be pretty and ordered and tell a clear story? Will it be a total mess that everyone who sees it will understand in a different way? We have no idea. Either way, it will appear in the show - and Bahja will be working alongside our other co-designer to bring the themes and creativities of our survivors into every other part of the visual experience.
I can hardly wait until we get back in the room next week - when we'll also have another special guest, of whom we'll tell you next time!
If you haven't checked out the current Drummond Street Artists exhibition in the Old Diorama Arts Centre foyer yet, get down there before it closes on 28th August to see Bahja's and other breathtaking artists' work.