It was time for lunch. We had a choice. Shall we go? Or shall we stay? In that moment we felt the pull to walk away from the easy, comfortable choice.
20 or so playbackers walked to the Occupy site, and arrived under the big euro sign where tents were pitched. The energy in the group was charged. We were preparing to meet strangers in unfamiliar territory and respond to their stories. It was challenging to be with these unknown factors – and thrilling. My sense of aliveness was awakened.
We formed groups of conductors and actors and looked for a place to do Playback Theatre.
Our group stepped off the path and made our way through tents and living spaces. It felt potentially intrusive. We found a small clearing with a fire and a few armchairs. One man was there making tea. We were two germans, three japanese and two english, and we needed to communicate who we are and why we’d come, and could we be accepted and offer Playback Theatre here, now?
We prepared to do Playback for one man in a close space, putting our bags down and forming a line up. We were translating between english and german and japanese. It seemed chaotic with all the translations needed for our listening but we were following the rituals of Playback Theatre, so we could act as team though we had only just met. Slowly, one by one, other occupiers peeped their heads out from their tents and joined us.
The conversation we had was extraordinary, raw and deep. It took me by surprise. These people were very, very still. They have no conflict in being there. The fire in their bellies and hearts is keeping them warm. It is everything. Being there is the only thing that matters. There is nothing more important than the change they are standing for.
Each enactment was watched with great stillness, slowly and deeply received, then their tears flowed. One man could barely watch as we reflected the truth of his feelings – his feeling are so great. He spoke of the place that women have in making this change. The need he sees to listen to women who are listening to their bodies – bringing wisdom for us all. For all life. We need to treat women with care.
They spoke about the difficulties that arise in the camp between these ideas and feminist ideas. For example, some mattresses were given to the camp. Some occupiers felt women should be given the more comfortable mattresses, because their bodies are soft, and some women didn’t want to treated differently because of their gender. These are real conflicts between people who are fighting for the same cause.They spoke about the tensions that build at the camp meetings that invariably become explosions – and then everything is clean again. One young man feels physically sick when he thinks about the way the world is now. The lack of care and abandonment of so many people in the world. We all cried together.
A presence of great love was there. Between us all we found our common humanity. Together we made something happen. Acting with the Japanese – feeling how they respond with their energy and touch so precisely and gently the essence in their work, and the young man from frankfurt who’s eyes were shining brightly. Feeling the joyful enthusiasm of the young woman from berlin who was helping in every way she could with translations. Simply being asked by my dear friend and colleague, ‘will you come with me?’ as she took on the role of conductor. All of it touched me.
This experience has changed me. I feel solidarity with people all over the world, who are standing up and speaking out for change. I want to do Playback Theatre on the streets whenever I can. I have leaned that I can contribute in this small, particular way and have an impact that helps. The feedback they gave us was ‘more than anyone else in the world you have shown the feelings that we have no words for.’ ‘Who are you’ they asked? You have helped us to feel why we are here, we have felt this together. We know more of why each person is here. This helps us. It helps us to be strong together. It helps us to know that you care to come here. You coming here is our gift today. We told them about you, the international community of people doing Playback Theatre. Please tell people why we are here.
So I am writing this to pass on this message from Occupy Frankfurt.
by Amanda Brown