Umbrellas, Dialogue, Workshops, Hillary Clinton

Why are all the American flags flying in Prishtina?  Hillary Clinton will be here tomorrow.  Will we see her?  It’s doubtful, but if we do we will definitely invite her to participate in our project.  I can’t wait to see Liza and Hillary in a two-high - or to see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walking on a cable spool.  The possibilities are endless.

As Liza mentioned in a previous post, rainy weather has set down on us in Prishtina, a sign of the quickly approaching winter.  Combine that with a broken heater in our apartment and things can get downright chilly.  Don’t worry though, the warmth of our Kosovar hosts would warm anyone’s hearts, even a heart as soggy and umbrella-less as mine.

There really is no excuse for me to go without an umbrella actually.  There are a number of street vendors selling umbrellas on the main drag, often in combination with food.  Don’t want roasted chestnuts?  How about an umbrella?  You don’t want sunflower seeds? Maybe you’d like a knee brace? 

In fact, I’m going to get an umbrella right now.

(15 minutes later)

I’m back, with an umbrella AND a belt (mine broke yesterday evening).  I ended up buying the umbrella and belt from a vendor selling both.  After some haggling, we agreed on 2 Euros for the Umbrella and 4 for the belt. Not bad if you ask me.

 

We’re teaching a series of introductory workshops to youth in Prishtina, Fushe Kosova, and Laplje Selo/Gracanica.  This is both to get students interested in our longer workshop and to offer something to some students who won’t be able to participate in a longer program.  On Thursday, we went to Balkan Sunflowers in Fushe Kosovo.  Balkan Sunflowers is a Kosovo NGO that operates a number of learning centers throughout Kosovo that works with the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities here.  Our workshop there focuses on three areas - ensemble, character, and physical dialogue.  Finding how to work as a whole, how to re-imagine the images we have of ourselves, and communication beyond language.  These are key areas of work for us here, and back home.  Oh, we also want the work to be fun.  Lets not forget that.

Here we are outside of Balkan Sunflowers.

And here I am inside Balkan Sunflowers with one of the participants.

On Sunday we taught a workshop at Artpolis’s Interactive School.  After a brief introduction we gave a demonstration of how physical training can be used to build a performance.  Then we worked on hand stories, a technique that Liza has been using in several community-based projects over the last few years.  Later in the week we will be at Laplje Selo, working with Geto Theatre, a Serbian youth theatre run by a lovely man named Zoran, and possibly in Mitrovica.  Mitrovica should be interesting, as the Albanian and Serbian populations are separated by a river, north and south.  The bridge that links the two halves of the city also acts as a kind of border.  Strange that a bridge can also be a wall.

We’re one week away from beginning our full workshop/performance series and I am ready to get started on this next phase of work here.  Organizational periods are necessary, but difficult.  To offset this, Liza and I are setting aside time each day to do our own training, partly to prepare for the workshops and partly to keep sane.  Or at least as sane as we ever were.  Our training together last night, like much of our work with students right now, focused on dialogue.  How can we meet each other, and what is it that we find in that place of meeting? 

Time to make dinner.  Everyone has to eat - that is one thing we all have in common.

Richard