Tuesday, 28 February 2017

22. blog post ENG

good news is that you can stop an APPROACHING crowd

A report from a workshop with theatre forum on how to create a social innovation

Imagine that two rows of people approach you, in a robotic manner, and you need to stop them.There are no boundaries for your creativity, yet it is not easy – those two rows have an instruction to behave as a robotic crowd. Till the moment one of them stops – then all have to stop as well. So, hope is always there – if you can make one person stop. And that´s a challenge worth facing. Don´t you want to try? 

The game about an individual and the crowd
This game introduced our theatre forum workshop. What was our goal? To show the young participants that they can change things for the better. Once you find this idea attracting, it is important to be ready for the following: be brave enough to express himself/ herself, trust himself/ herself and withstand reservations of the others, belief that you are always able to find a right solution to a situation which doesn´t meet your expectations or which represents a burden, and last but not least, not to get discouraged.

Physical barrier is also an option, why not?
In our game brave individuals used the following techniques to stop the crowd: manipulation, mysification, emotional blackmail, cry, authoritative approach (a military senior who is shouting commands). Now we have an idea how polititions, manipulators, leaders and celebrities rule us – all those who see me and you, him and her, when we are together, as a crowd.

Our project deals with social innovation. You change the routine and the innovation is born. But what does „social“ mean? It means that your solution can be applied by different people in different places and it makes life easier for them. So how the game mentioned above relates with social innovation? For example, the rows may represent an issue and the individual with an idea the brave one who solves it.


The issue may be represented by the brave individual (believe me, the determination of the student who wanted to stop the crowd by her shout represented a serious problem for my ears) and the problem solver is the individual in the crowd who first decides to stop and by doing so he/ she stops the rest.

Stern looks
You probably know the situation when you wanted to present your genious idea but what you only got was reserved looks. Or you have never tried to do so because you were afraid of getting a laugh. But every successful innovator has to be able to face that. 

WHY to be a social innovator at all? This is a cardinal question. How do I want to manifest myself in my life? Do I want to give shape to what I feel? Do I want to get interconnected with other people or I prefer staying alone with my ideas while the community doesn´t matter?

At the beginning of a social innovation there is a brave person. Brave because he/she is not afraid of looking for new solutions. Also, he/she is not afraid of finding people with whom it is possible to share the innovative idea, to develop it and to put it in practice. The bravest because he/she is willing to think of the community – the solution will help many others no matter if they come from Brno, Orlová or Tallinn. This is how we see a social innovator in our project. 

The students got to work in groups on their ideas
Here are the situations which, in the eyes of the ninth grade pupils of the Studánka Grammar School in Orlová, need innovation:
  • Shorten time spent at school - go to school only two days a week („I will be stupid but will maintain good mental health“)
  • Replace keys by codes (I will get rid of a bunch of keys, there will be no risk of loosing one or get it broken in the lock“ etc..)
  • The feeling that you cannot find the other sock  A lost sock detector
  • The feeling when the toilet paper in your cubicle runs out → A toilet paper pipe
  • The feeling when you have lost the money → A hand implant replacing a bank card
  • I am angry when someone eats the food I spared for myself and am looking for all day → Marks or personal compartents in the fridge
  • I am angry when the school canteen throws away the not eaten food
  • I am angry that I have to get up early to attend school classes starting too early, e.g. at 8 am

Presenting their ideas
To develop an idea into a social innovation, theatre forum is a great tool. WHY? Because you can get a unique feedback from the audince. It goes like that – you are sitting in the audience, watching a scene and then you get an idea that you would do it differently. By clapping you can stop the scene, go to the stage, replace the main character and act his/her part as you wish. And why is it only the main character you can replace? It is because the main character is the one who wants to find a solution to a problem. Also, it is only yourself you can change, not the others. 

Students trying problem solving through theatre forum

There is great power in that. Feedback in action. It is immediately clear if your action works or not. Businesses pay thousands for such an evidence. For community development we get it free of charge this way.

The experts

The theatre forum workshop we held in Brno on 23rd February, was about communication which doesn´t work: two friends meet each other after a long time but when they sit in a cafe to have a chat, one of them barely speaks paying major attention to his mobile – Facebook posts, Twitter tweets and texts seem to be more important than a face to face conversation, though rare. 

Here are the ideas audience suggested (and played):
  • I´ll grab my friend´s mobile and smash it against the floor
  • I´ll sneak my friend´s mobile in exchange for a magic pill (expensive and with fatal side effects) which, allegedly, cures the mobile addiction
  • I´ll bring my friend´s Mom to the cafe and ask her to seize his son´s mobile; this situation turned into a comic improvisation worthy to be developed further in a school theatre
  • I´ll attract my friend´s attention by emotion blackmailing or intimidation
  • I´ll stick a smart sticker on his mobile which discharges the battery
  • I have a gadget which transmits electric shocks on my friend whenever he tries to touch his mobile; each transmission is accompanied by a robotic voice saying: „leave the mobile alone“

There is a social innovation solution suggested by the project participant, Poli. Interested to know more? OK, it will be presented in our next post dealing with the projct outcomes. Till then – think and innovate!

Text Anna
Photo Polina

This blog is a part of the project Empowering Youth To Become Social Innovators, realised under the Erasmus+ partnership programme. The project is coordinated by a Czech NGO DYNAMA, z.s., seated in Brno and an Estonian NGO Youth Club Active, seated in Tallinn. This project contributes to the development of non formal learning of the youth.

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