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Emotional Engagement Workshops

September 15, 2009

Ran a three day workshop with Karen McLeod last week.


This is an image take from an improvisation on the last day.  It’s shows Bec Garland with a parasol, singing.  She was great!



Over three days we used existing poems, drama and physical exercises and writing exercises to explore emotional engagement.  We knew from the start that we had a lot to learn from each other, and from the participants, and that was really what happened… Mainly, we discovered how implausible it was to consider the emotions in isolation – in a little brainstorming exercise we did, we spoke about how there were ‘root’ emotions, which tend to drive others (for example ‘sadness’, causing ‘anxiety’) but as soon as it came to charting these out, it got very complicated and impossible to agree on.  It is a strange thing about emotions, and emotional performance, that high-emotion moments can exist within apparently paradoxical emotions.


A good example of this is a poem we looked at on the last day, called Five Houses Down, by Christian Wiman.  Why does this poem make us feel sad, why happy?


Another fantastic poem we looked at was this one by Denise Levertov, which I really discovered to be a masterpiece in exploring it with the group.  The way she uses metre and the variable foot, particularly in the second half of the poem, is incredible.  Again, there is a palpable feeling of stuggle and relief sharing the same space in the poem…


With the Levertov poems, we created some physical interpretation work.  I am really overjoyed at my decision to work through my barriers to this kind of creative interpretation, as I feel it has really given me a greater understanding of the poetic at work.


I’ll post some of the poems from this workshop up here, but mainly the workshops were about developing a sensibility and form for new work.  I enjoyed the contrasting methodologies, and the relative strengths of each.  For example, I am discovering with redoubled strength, the advantages poetry has when it comes to ‘narrating’ a subject and providing comment.  This is hard in drama, and physical theatre.  Was a great start to a long term project.


I have put a couple of exercises based on this on Active Reading.


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