The overall aim of facilitation in this paratheatre medium is
with suggesting techniques and ritual designs that succeed
in amplifying the existing conditions and dynamics innate
to each individual and the group as a whole.
Effective facilitation skills in this paratheatre medium can only develop after ample firsthand experience with its structures, techniques, and transformative processes. This amounts to the completion of at least five labs (each lab runs 7-12 weeks, once or twice a week, three hours a session). The role of facilitator is not the same as director, or teacher, or guru, or therapist. The facilitator is more like a group's "third eye , capable of perceiving the innate dynamics within each group during each and every session of work.
TAKING NOTE OF EXISTING CONDITIONS
Certain powers of observation are necessary to detect the present-time moods, needs, resistances, and the overall spirit embodied by the given group in each session. These observations begin the moment participants enter the space. Obvious properties such as gender balance, age, energy levels, skill, and talent should also be noted.
THE FIRST AND SECOND ATTENTIONS
Two types of attention are required for effective ritual facilitation in this medium. The first attention is that awareness linked to language, thinking and the assignment of meaning. The second attention is that awareness linked to presence, energy, and phenomena without assigning interpretation. The second attention allows for direct perception of the existing energetic dynamics of the group.
The first attention naturally has a plan or a system or an idea or a meaning to impose on the situation. The second attention knows how to "let the situation be the boss". The first attention, when trained to follow the second attention, finds words and language to best serve second attention perception of energy dynamics. When the first attention dominates, it inhibits the second attention. Second attention increases with a lack of self-investment. The second attention expresses a perception for seeing things as they are, not as they should be or could be. Without an active second attention, and a taming of the first attention to serve its perception, effective facilitation in this medium is not possible (also see "The First and Second Attentions").
THE PHYSICAL WARM-UP
The five-phase physical warm-up cycle provides ample time to observe the levels of commitment and energy, or lack thereof, which bear heavily on the work to follow. Typically, the more commitment demonstrated in the Warm-Up, the less resistant participants will be to more challenging and charged rituals. If the group commitment level is low, it may be best to focus on movement vocabulary and technique work after the warm-up before introducing more charged rituals.
OBSERVE BEFORE SPEAKING
It is useless and distracting to speak before observing. Stay alert. There are changes occurring out there on the floor. You are looking for present-time group dynamics unfolding moment-to-moment before your eyes. You may need to continually adjust your suggestions to coincide with the influx of new information from the group. Stay flexible. When in doubt: do not speak without observing first.
ON TALKING: LESS IS MORE
During the rituals themselves, participants experience the facilitator as a disembodied voice. Certain vocal and tonal adjustments serve ritual facilitation better than others. Avoid suggestions that spell things out or define things too much or require any thought to understand them. Keep suggestions simple and somewhat open-ended. Participants are there to experience forces and discover realities, not have them explained. Choose your words carefully; the less you say, the better.
SPEAK TO THE BODY
Single words can often act like mantras; sometimes, one word can be enough. Speak to the body. Body wisdom resists over-definition. Allow your directions to remain somewhat incomplete. Invite participants to discover and evolve their own responses and processes. Give them ample time to explore and exhaust your suggestions. The body needs more time to experience a direction than the mind needs to think about it. If you're tense, participants will hear it in your tone. If you experience tension before a session, find some way to get it out of your system before facilitating. Participants have enough resistance to deal with without also having to deal with yours.
ON PERMITTING UNCERTAINTY
Energetic dynamics percolating beneath the threshold of group and individual consciousness can be unpredictable. To remain receptive to these subterranean currents, learn to permit more uncertainty. Learn to exercise a certain "lack of self-investment". If you become too personally involved or invested in an outcome, participants will pick up on it and will most likely resist your suggestions. You are here to support their involvement, not yours. Create space for the participant's emotional involvement by removing your own. A catalyst never undergoes the same changes as the catalyzed. The facilitator is a ritual catalyst.
THE FINAL RITUAL OF EACH SESSION
It is wiser to end cool than to end hot. This work activates the energetic body; the Central Nervous System is stimulated, sparked and "lit." Design a final ritual that can serve as a cooling off process, rather than one that leaves everyone hopped up and wired. Restoring balance and equilibrium is a good rule of thumb here. When these rituals end late at night, the activated energetic body can sometimes keep participants awake into the wee hours. In the event of insomnia and excessive charge in the nervous systems, epsom salt baths can help neutralize any excess electromagnetism (mix 1 cup per 100 pounds body in a full bath of hot water and then, soak for no more than thirty minutes; often times, 15 minutes soak can be enough). A longer, deeper No-Form practice helps diffuse the effects of the more charged rituals.
ON GROUP CIRCLES
A group circle ends each session to provide an opportunity to check in, share notes and voice perceptions. After a particularly charged ritual, people may be silenced by what happened. The aim of the group circle is to simply report on what happened, not what it might mean. If participants start espousing meaning or philosophical contexts to their experiences, gently nudge them back to their actual experience, i.e., "What happened to you ?" "How did you relate to what happened ?" Though philosophical discourse and psychoanalysis have their place, the purpose of the group circle is to share notes on what happened in the session.
Abridged from material excerpted from
"Towards an Archeology of the Soul" by Antero Alli
(VERTICAL POOL PUBLISHING, 2003)