It is done!
We just concluded “Get Storied” (Storytelling and education), a week long training course co-funded by the European Erasmus+ programme, which took place in our self-managed hostel in Sermugnano. I was very happy to go back to that place, to which I am connected by so many memories, and that is able to create immediately a strong sense of community, inspiration, calm and reflection. My expectations for the course were very high.
The idea has been creatively (and corageously) put together by our Mafalda,
and it was an experiment in many ways. We had the privilege of working between friends,
in a very familiary and magic place, but the programme was running for the first time. Would it be a success? Would we get lost in our
hopeless nerdiness abundance of ideas, and fail to deliver a coherent programme?
There was only one way to find out. Dive into it!
While the group was still on its way, we worked to iron out the last details of the programme, and our story was (well – almost) ready to be told. We decided to inspire the whole programme to the “Hero’s Journey” narrative (what better place than a course on storytelling, after all?), and to make it evident from the first day. We didn’t want to follow a linear structure, and give to each session a slot. Instead, we went for a circular structure, and a much more organic flow. With pictures and no (evident) time frame.
We started off really with one of our favourites! A storytellers’ bonfire was the perfect way to meet everybody and create a special atmosphere for sharing and connection. It was a lovely evening, full of stories that were provoking, fun, touching and inspiring.
From there, we knew we were on the right track. We managed to involve once more our dear friend Vania Castelfranchi for a theatre workshop involving team building, personal development, archetypes of stories and character creation.
The deep humanity, the passion Vania puts in his work, the contagious enthusiasm he shows, are simply impossible to resist. The insights he shared with the group reached so deep, that “As Vania Said” (= AVS) became one of our favourite quotes for the whole week.
We are grateful to have had him with us, if only for one day. We will meet again, brave travelling poet. Feel free to visit the page of his theatre group at http://www.ygramul.net/teatroygramul/ygramul.html and to follow his activities.
How to follow after that? The day after, after a reflection on who (and what) is a hero and what are our favourite role models
we went out for a deeply experiential phase. Reflecting on how our personal story started, and possibly what is our Sacred Wound, the episode that gives us the motivation to get up in the morning and share our stories. The place and the connection with nature helped a lot of course.
And after that, we challenged the group to spend the night out in the nature. Following the tradition of “Solo walks”, we left the hostel in the afternoon to spend at least part of the night in the woods of the valley.
Thresholds were crossed and promises were made. While we were descending to the “extraordinary world”, people developed more and more reasons to stay there. For some, being alone for some hours would have been the challenge. For others, it was the natural element, including the possibility of meeting wild animals. For others, fear was the biggest fear.
We went out exploring one of the most ancient and universal stories ever, the fear of the unknown. We honor all the heroes that have met their true selves that night, out there. Maybe for the first real time.
Many decided to stay out the whole night, much after our suggested limit of four to five hours. Big respect. Everybody was free to choose the way they wanted to challenge themselves, and build their personal ceremony. One thing was sure: the next day, everybody had a hell of a story to share.
After such a strong building phase, the programme really took off. We included activities like The Way of Council,
and an introduction to The Four Shields of Human Nature, as well as more mundane tasks like the ever-present “Service and Care”, which included working in the garden,
cooking together (definitely one of the epic aspects of this course: more on that, later),
and cleaning and taking care of the spaces.
We wanted to make sure our programme offered a very wide spectrum of storytelling, including examples from the past, present and future of this art form. We always aimed at balancing nature and technology, more spiritual dimensions with contemporary and more down-to-earth elements, sacred and profane. After all, playing with opposites and paradoxes is a fundamental skill for a good narrator.
We included a touch on the “Invisible Art” of Comics, thanks to a master-level presentation by Michele Di Paola,
and movie making, thanks to the input by Tullio Morganti, professional sound engineer who works for Italian and international productions. The workshop was really able to create the very specific atmosphere of a movie set in our own dining room:
And of course, sound editing played a major role. That is at least 50% percent of a movie, and can improve, alter or fix what we think we see on screen, as we learned.
A creativity workshop followed: can we change famous movies, playing a “What if” game?
People could test their visionary abilities and unleash sheer creativity by playing with movie classics like “The Lion King“, “Dirty Dancing” (that became “Consensual Dancing”), or “Fight Club” – which was transformed into the much less intimidating (but not less catastrophic) “Tea Club”.
This was probably the part of the programme that I loved most. Amazing, amazing creative work from the group. Well done!
We also included a movie marathon, nonetheless. Yeah, being the big nerds that we are, we couldn’t agree on one single film to share with the group. In fact, we had a list of like, ten. Eventually it was cut down to four, then finally to three.
The marathon topic was “Games in Movies” and this was the programme, as agreed with the group.
The setting was perfect. Great weather, outside screen, blankets. Hey, we even had pop corn. People could choose according to their own preferences, and we had a few brave hardcore movie fans who stayed up all the way. I loved the evening, even if I
shamelessly slept for the most of it already knew all the movies well.
And then, Games. We explored this other classic form of storytelling, and incredibly power learning experience. We explored the positive aspects that a healthy relation with games can bring to our life (the process is called Gamification and it’s starting to be well known not only in education, but also in a number of other fields),
and playing games was encouraged very actively, always considering the learning benefits after each experience. Here is a game of Dixit offered by Andreea – the game incluced beautiful and inspiring artwork and is not dependent on a specific language to be played, which is why it’s already widely used in the context of non formal education.
In a certainly memorable Games Night we proposed The Resistance, a table game of deceit and negotiation (the favourite game of electricians from all over the world, I think)
the Guitar Hero series, as an introduction to party video games that would not be only about shooting people in the head and cursing at each other,
and the indie storytelling videogame To the moon, by Freedbird Games, to explore a more personal, subtle form of entertainment that was pure storytelling, only using a different medium.
In conclusion, it has been a hell of a week, a very strong transformative experience with an extraordinary group of participants (we had almost 300 applicants: apologies, if you didn’t make it to the final list! And make sure you mention it, should you apply again), a place that breathed magic, and a very inspired team of facilitators and organisers.
Of course – a special mention should be given to Francesco, Angelo and Giovanna, who took care of the cooking and provided us with
SOME OF THE MOST
MADE WITH THE HEART,
ITALIAN HOME-MADE FOOD EVER!
Thanks a lot, guys! Your warm hospitality and hard, hard work will forever be remembered and left a lasting impression on
our waistlines our learning experience. Grazie!
The programme was very intensive. It left most of us satisfied, fulfilled, and really exhausted
but in exploring the process of getting lost and travelling between worlds, so many of us could find something important for themselves.
Imagine: would you like to organise a similar experience? The next “Get Storied” could be hosted by you. Feel free to contact us or share your ideas with us. It is from visionary ideas like this that wonderful things happen.
Thanks again, everybody! And remember, AVS, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost”.
And now — what could be the best possible way to close this article?
With the video that Rita and Andrea made to celebrate the course! I have seen how many hours they put in the shooting and in editing it (twice) – and I think the result is fantastic! Until the next time!
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