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On this page you'll find
a report on "Stix & Stones"
by choreographer, Christos Linou
Stix and stones
testosterone in boys and men
Christos Linou, Choreographer / Director / Performer
performed at 6th annual Stamping Ground - Friday 11 January 2002
All encompassing and physically invigorating....
With Sticks And stones I developed new methods and frameworks for presenting workshops with a performance outcome. The premise of the workshop was to create a platform for men and boys to talk about their experiences and circumstances of bullying and violent behavior. These talks were referenced to increase physical awareness of our bodies when we are caught in challenging circumstances. Through gestures and actions in the trust games, we examined school yard bullying and father to son bullying behaviors. With this framework I was able to establish a daily rhetoric regarding the analysis of this theme. I created a trusting workshop environment, which was represented in the intimates ritual base formula of the final performance.
The basic structure of the workshop was designed around trust games and body warm-up exercises. Within these exercises I was creating the possible performance scenarios. We executed the same trust games each day, which helped the participants to develop a familiar sense of their actions, expanding their physical vocabulary and allowing them to gain confidence with their bodies and confidence in working with other male bodies. From the discussions of participants stories and personal experiences I reflected these with the actions from the trust games and shaped the work from a mixture of stories This area was also the opportunity for me to cast certain participants in particular character roles, highlighted in the performance. In particular, who is seen as dominate and passive.
When I approached the participants about the work being performed, most were anxious and not comfortable about performing workshop tasks. I found that I had to guide them through the tasks, which they gained much confidence and realised that the games developed were possible scenarios in everyday life, which would be played out and presented in performance. There were wonderful breakthroughs in the attitude of both the boys and men in the workshop. Initially I was discouraged by the negative approach, with boys and men dropping in and out for the first few workshops. They did not perceive the idea as being manly or macho enough to take part, they thought it was too whimsy or poofy to be part of this form of physical /dance workshop. This is understandable because the very nature of the work is designed to examine passive and violent behavior in men and boys some did not want to deal with issues regarding bullying and personal experiences
The workshop operated on various levels and presented a multitude of situations, a fun and energetic movement / dance class, a rehearsal space in preparation for performance, a platform to discuss bullying behaviors in boys and men as well as examining testosterone as a scientific chemical reaction in the male body. At times the subject matter was to hard for some participants to grasp. I did however encourage the boys who came to the workshops to remain and allow the trust of the workshop to develop the projects ideas. Often I said it's going to be a lot of fun, lots of physical action, beating up adults, having your story heard, fighting games, hip hop dance moves. Eventually the workshop numbers had been defined to 9 participants (4 boys and 4 men) plus myself. This turned out to be very successful given the amount of contact time I had to develop the workshop and performance (12 hours). Within the small group we created an intimate physical theatre story telling performance through to a personalized and ritual space, which may have not been so intimate if the numbers exceeded 12.
Testosterone discussions were light as the participants were not sure of the scientific study in the area. I continued to explain the effects of testosterone and how it can direct action, along with demonstrating in role playing games being able to control this testosterone agent and use its adrenaline to work creatively through the body as opposed to creating a violent situation. Primarily it came down to how a man or a boy could release this physically energy.
I explained the basics in testosterone behavior and the release of chemicals in the body, which can be determined according to the need to feel challenged and positioning yourself in the ranking system. Either you can be the king or slave. The issues of pecking order were clearly defined, along with the needs of men and boys to be physically vigorous. Most of the time when the boys were challenging one another, they also entered vigorous wrestling and fighting actions, which were always monitored and stopped when the actions could cause harm. I used the natural play fighting activities of the boys in the workshop to base some of the examples on. A lot of the time the boys were disruptive and the adults were becoming impatient with their wild activity, because of the nature of a short concentration time in boys, within 10 minutes they would begin disrupting the class by teasing each another, bully and eventually fight and there would always be a pecking order established. I explained this in the workshop of this phenomenon in boys and began looking at the reason why there is bullying and the acceptance of the position in the rank of the group. Later the boys had realised that what they were doing was negative behavior and the general disobedience in the workshop subsided and the boys concentrated and went on to present an excellent performance interpretation of the theme. The averages age boys 9 years old and the adults 30 years old.
A main focus was, avoid violent actions and find creative physical outlets. Allow for the ranking system to establish itself when in the company of angry men, avoiding violent behavior and create creative physical challenges, like dance and sport to release testosterone. The many comments and discussions have confirmed that this examination of behavior in men and boys is something which can be rationalized, that it opens the possibility of creating new methods in dealing with issues of bulling and violent behavior. The men in the workshop were profoundly touched by the short time we all had together and the trust created in areas which previously may have seemed confronting and frustrating. Men quoted they will be less strict and let boys be a little more chaotic.
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