“The Art of Theatre 2”
The first day was filled with travel and adventure. Czech group gathered on the bus from Prague, capital of Czechia, to Budapest, capital of Hungary. At Budapest’s Népliget the Czech and Hungarian groups met each other and the very kind drivers. Departing from Budapest around half past six, the two national groups embarked on their journey to Tryavna, their final destination in Bulgaria.
They crossed the Romanian border and continued on their way. The landscapes and sights along the journey were breath-taking, especially the snow-capped mountains, which aren’t seen that often in Hungary and not even in the Czech Republic. They couldn’t wait to reach the Bulgarian border, and after about 11 hours of travel, the small yellow bus finally arrived in beautiful Bulgaria.
The land left a remarkable impression on booth of the national groups, and they were filled with excitement as they travelled through the mountains before reaching Sofia. Although the journey was a bit tiring, they cherished every moment and started to bond with each other. In Sofia, the Hungarian and Czech participants waited at the airport for the Spanish group to arrive, and once they joined the two groups, they continued their journey to Tryavna. By around 3 am, they arrived at the hotel, chose their rooms and without delay, they retired to their beds, ready to rest and rejuvenate for the adventures that awaited them in the days ahead.
Of course, there were two remaining teams as well, who travelled differently to Tryavna. The Lithuanians choose to travel by van, and Emilka the only Polish participant travelled with them from Poland.
Naturally, for the Bulgarian group the travel wasn’t complicated they waited the other teams in the Hotel.
The second day was full of new energy. We started to get to know each other, the organizers, the Hotel staff and the Bulgarian food. We needed to acclimatize to the new situation, that is the reason that during the second and third days there were some misunderstandings. But we think we managed to get comfortable in the group. We started the workshops in the early morning. The facilitator explained to us the rules of our work in the following days. From that moment we knew that we should always attend sessions on time and be active during them, so that the process of learning could go on smoothly. We wrote down on big pieces of paper our fears, expectations and how we want to contribute to the project. Everybody had a chance to grab a marker and write their statement, the queue to the papers arose very quickly- we wrote our opinions eagerly. After that we read them out loud and discussed them together, how to avoid things written under the fears and how to fulfil our expectations. It was made clear that most of the things depend on the participants and their attitude. We also talked together about the rules in the group, how to work together without getting anyone excluded. We emphasized that everybody’s opinion should be respected. Those meetings helped us to create the final products of the project – theatre plays. We even had the chance to give each other the mugs, which we brought with us to give each other. It is a really good and environmentally friendly solution, and of course a good memory for everyone. Some participants even had the idea, that they’re going to visit the towns/cities, where their mugs come from. In the evening a group went to the park, we chatted a little and listened to music.
On the third day there were a lot of icebreaking tasks, which helped us to stay focused on our tasks, and the Hungarian team was responsible for the energizers. During the day, we attended several sessions which were in connection with the topic directing, problem solving, working in team etc. We had a task to solve, and after that we discussed them as a team. Why we did them, how did they help us or how can they help us in the future. These sessions were really useful not just to get to know each other, but to be able to train and develop ourselves. Also Friday took place the first national evening, which was provided by the Hungarian team. Everyone enjoyed the way they introduced Hungary to the others, the music, the snacks, the dances. Everyone told some things about their hometown, Dorka taught some tongue twisters to the others, Kinga even read a Hungarian folktale. It was good to see on everyone’s face that they are interested in what their were listening to. Some of us were that fit, that they stayed up to witness the sun coming up. Good memories were collected this day.
Finally, on Saturday we started the acting part. After breakfast we did some activities, to wake up our bodies. We even learned how to breath properly in order to be able to talk loud on the stage. We think that everyone was relieved that we started to move a bit, to participate in different activities. Anna and Lili are both very kind. We could feel that they make a good team together, and their energy inspires everyone. In the morning activity, we played animals, and others had to guess them. It was fun to watch and interesting to guess. The tasks we were given looked easy, but to present them perfectly, we needed to participate fully. The food was good, as always. In the afternoon we had to perform our morning routine. It was interesting to watch, but sometimes it got boring because the performances were the same. We also tried to get to know the neighbourhood a bit. We were wondering about the beauty of nature, because the mountains and the foreign country, everything felt a bit different. The day was about learning. We listened to a lecture about theatre, we compared the theatre with the cinema and found pluses and minuses of each. We also presented a history of theatre in our nations. Presenting our national theatre history was a great opportunity to teach others about our national art heritage. It gave us great feelings, since it is important to know about the cultural differences.
On Sunday our first task was to create a short solo pantomime performance from the previous day. We had to choose a person whose performance we will present in front of each other. It was very interesting to see and try to play someone else’s creation. And also seeing other people to act your performance was scary at first, but it worked out to be a very fun experience. In the afternoon we had a task to come up with a poem. We could either choose an existing one or come up with an original one. Once we got it, we read it in front of the audience. It was interesting to see what kind of choices people are going to make. There were poems in English and native languages. Very serious ones, and some were very light and fun. Usually it was our childhood poems, or poems which we’ve learned at school. After the first presentation, we had to read them, and build a quick play in teams. The task was to make a play where every actor speaks only their own poem lines. The dialogue made no sense, but it was about concentration, and learning to separate words from action. As we could guess, it turned out to be very funny, hearing people’s lines having absolutely no connection together, but it was spoken in a serious manner. Besides the official program, the others were interested in one of Hungarian national dances so Hungarian people taught the others. It was a small part of the day, but it will remain as a special memory to us. The night was also spectacular, because it was the time of the Spanish night. The Spanish people presented their country – language, festivals, traditions, food… With a short presentation. Not only facts about the country were shown but we also did get an insight of some traditions. Then, we tested our knowledge about Spain in a short quiz. After that, we had a chance to taste some of the Spanish food: Hamon, candies, fuet, Magdalenas and tested the Spanish drink “calimocho” and learned to do campanadas. Last but not least, we learnt some Spanish dances, “f.e.” and “flamenco”
Monday: The most interesting day ever. We learned how actors commit stage fights. The activities were really enjoyable, we are sure, everyone had a fun time. We’ve learned how to slap each other, how to hit in the stomach without causing the other remaining pain. We’ve also learned a Polish dance, called Polonaise. It was a good activity, we had the chance to act like ladies and gentleman from the 18th and 19th centuries. The session would’ve been much better if we would’ve had according dresses, so we would’ve experienced the medieval atmosphere a bit better. In the afternoon we had the task to create a small etude, in which we had to use the knowledge we gained that day. This activity was really interesting, because we could create a really funny play, totally based on our ideas. These small plays helped us throughout the days to get closer to each other and form a better group.
On Tuesday we started the day with the refreshing activities which we practiced since Saturday. After that, we learnt the basics of pantomime and we even had the chance to try out ourselves in it. Then we got back to the Polish dance, which we practiced the day- before. But this time, music was added to our performance, so we could think, as we were in the 18-19 century. A tiny problem was that there were less boys than girls, but we solved it easily. In the afternoon, we had one of the best tasks. We had to recreate one of our national myth, so we worked in the national groups. It was a special moment, because we could show the each other our national energies and we also got to know each other better. It was good that there was a task in national groups, because we did not see each other that much, besides the meals, where we usually sat together and talked about our day. The highlight of the day was that we finally were divided in the groups according to the preferred theatre genre and the “big work” began. It was the first moment we realized how hard it will be to create the final project. The Lithuanian night took place and again, it was amazing. We watched a funny video about the country, even played Kahoot and they gave us many national snacks. The dance was also part of the program, but again, we missed some more boys. Like the other nights, everyone partied until early morning, the mood was liberating and bonded the group even more.
On Wednesday day, we listened to a presentation, in which Stan provided us with several methods on the topic, named mind mapping, which is about: how to structure our thoughts while starting a new task or project. After that, Anna and Lily gave us feedback on our first ideas for the play, which we had to think about and proceed with the brainstorming for the project. They shaped our raw ideas a bit, and provided us to make it better. Luch happened a bit earlier, because Stan had a surprise for us. We travelled to a rosehip factory in Tryavna. We learned about the process of making different products, and that this factory is recycling, which means that the unused parts of the rosehips are becoming the fuel for heating. It was good to see how efficient a business through hard work can get. The zero carbon-footprint is really impressive and we hope they will proceed with the success. After this experience we had the chance to explore the beautiful town of Tryavna. It was raining a bit but it didn’t stop us from getting off the bus and going sightseeing. We liked the old town, which is full of history and we had the chance to observe the Bulgarian lifestyle a bit. It was a nice team building activity, and also, it was fun. At the end of the day we walked back to the hotel and had a delicious dinner. Some of us spent the whole night downstairs in the living room, because there was karaoke night. There were various types of music, so it was suitable for everyone.
On Thursday we worked hard on our scripts the whole day. The food was good again. Lily and Anna helped us again and provided information but this day had another structure, we needed to find our group dynamics. We found it really hard to start with the task and proceed. Some of us could not see the progress during the day. It was hard because we had the same goal, but the route which leads to the goal is different. It was kind of hard to make compromises but every team managed it, and we are sure, that the plays will be really good. In the evening, the Czech national night took place, and again, like every national presentation, we enjoyed it a lot.
Friday was an exhausting day every group was busy working on their theatre play. We started the morning with the usual exercises, and Anna was right, the pump exercise was not that strange anymore, as in the beginning of the process. We could organize our working process as we wanted, every group met two times with Anna and Lily, who helped us a lot to develop with the work. Until the end of the day, everyone was ready with the script. There were some groups, which needed to work harder today, because Thursday was not that productive and efficient for them, others had less to do, so the difference in the team dynamics got clear. We could feel that everyone is starting to get tired because of the massive fun in the late nights and hard work during the days.
The evening was full of surprises, because it was time for the Bulgarian night. It started with a traditional dinner, the hotel staff prepared us dishes, which are commonly eaten by get togethers with friends. We had the chance to try the Rakija, it was really strong. After dinner we watched a video about Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian team showed us their dances. There were difficult dances, which they showed us, but we danced together the easier ones. We enjoyed the evening very much.
On Saturday in the morning after our warm up activities we discussed our plays, later we read them out loud in order to get used to our characters and to the others. This reading rehearsal was really enjoyable because we finally tasted the fruit our work, by that we mean, that after writing the entire script it was great to read it out loud. We also presented our mind maps, some of them turned out pretty amazing, some of them not that much. In the afternoon we were told to learn our lines by heart in order to be able to put the plays on the stage. The first rehearsals were quite messy, but after practising every play a bit , the process was better and better. Many of us played ninja and Chinese football just to get some mental rest, it was really fun and it released the stress from having to memorize our scripts. Until 9:30 in the afternoon we did recite and mostly learn our lines, then we had the Polish cultural night. During the night we’ve learned Polish dances which were quite difficult yet we got the hang of them, we played Kahoot, we tried Polish snacks and drinks and we listened to Polish music while we were chatting and having fun with each other.
On Sunday, we got the chance to start rehearsing our plays on stage. Anna and Lili helped us with the movements and with the mimics, to be able to act better. After each and every group got a feedback on their plays, the groups practised on their own at different places, because the next day, on Monday every group has to present the play they were working so hard on. So, we could not be lazy, we tried to use every minute in order to rehears, because we wanted to show something special. It turned out, that rehearsals are good team building activities, so we enjoyed the time we spent together. In the evening every participant got a small certificate from Anna, Lili and Stan. It was also really interesting, because we needed to act like the person whose name was written on the certificate, so after all we didn’t stop with the acting. After the certificates, we played foosball, it was kind of an Erasmus+ championship. Of course, the winners were Anna and Lili, they are really good in this game, they definitely deserved the win. We even started to say goodbye to each other, because the Czech and Hungarian teams are leaving tomorrow night, so technically it was our last night together.
Monday was a big day. Everyone was excited about the afternoon, because it was time to present our plays in front of an audience. Some of us were nervous, some of us handled the situation really good. Before noon we had time to rehearse and to add the final details to our plays. Also, there were formalities, so we did some paperwork in between the rehearsals. After lunch we were driven in two groups to the building, where the performances took place. The building was really nice and homey so we immediately loosened up. The final rehearsals contained faults, but we knew, that the real performances will be really good. And so happened. There were four plays: a drama, two comedies and a musical. We had the impression, that the audience liked every play, so we left the stage with bright smiles. We couldn’t leave without a surprise. It was Raul’s time to shine. He did a small magic show for the Bulgarian audience and for us, it was really entertaining. After we left the building, the Czech and Hungarian groups needed to hurry, since they had only one hour till the departure. After dinner came the fast, but emotional goodbyes. Everyone said goodbye to each other and the one big group, which we have built during these two weeks started to split up.
On Tuesday morning the Czech and Hungarian group were already in Romania, and the remaining Spanish and Lithuanian groups were ready to leave the hotel in Tryavna. The rides back home weren’t uneventful. Sadly, a car which transported the Spanish team broke down, so they had to take the train to Sofia. The Lithuanians had a long journey back to their home country, but they had the opportunity to visit several European cities on their way back home. They arrived home on Thursday.
Here you can find some pictures from the project: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1CU4G08_NR35NQE04YevyuUzaFkJsTjtG?usp=sharing
Here can be found the brochure: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SKfu_UfkqRiF_-d73H3ywiI9FvecDrSh/view?usp=sharing
Follow this link to watch the 4 different authors theatre plays: https://youtu.be/yhLQvJqJJeg
Follow this link to watch Raul`s magic show: https://youtu.be/Rvl2CiGJAwY
Here you can find something that can make you cry and laugh at the same time, especially if you were part of this amazing experience: https://youtu.be/lSZptryE_JQ
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