While the 2nd “World Day of the Poor” was opening my heart, the scenographic workshops organized by „Cricoteca” for blind and dim-sighted children were closing my eyes letting me see clearly.
“This project came about from the fact that there is an emphasis on providing culture for people with disabilities. And it seems to me that in Cricoteka there is a great desire for such actions. A lot has begun to happen because it is not yet very popular in Poland. There are workshops especially designed for people with disabilities, for people with autism, for adults, for children. There are also our workshops. Here.” – explains Julia Basista, co-host of the workshops.
By saying “here”, Julia means the Special School and Educational Center for Blind and Dim-sighted Children located in Krakow.
“First of all, the fact is that if there are, for example, adult blind people, it is hard for them to come to the museum simply because they are not used to the fact that such places are open, and available to them, that they have any oﬀers like workshops or exhibitions. Such workshops like ours, that come to them is also in a way to get to know these people and to invite them to us. I think it is important that we go put and away from Cricoteka. We do not just sit in the museum.” – adds Barbara Iwańska, who runs the workshops together with Julia. Both graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts of Jan Matejko in Krakow. I watch girls preparing for the next classes. They are very casual, natural, they talk about materials and ideas. Their cordiality impresses me completely, and I wasn’t the only one impressed. Children come after a while, they were very loud, laughing, but they were coming in carefully, they are helping each other, they are holding hands. I see great confidence in their motions.
fot. Studio FilmLOVE, thanks to Cricoteka
“We are talking about the stage, what is on the stage” explains one of the workshop participants, yet quite uncertain she does not turn in my direction. I understand we need time to understand each other, and I respect this.
In this one sentence, she explains practically the whole idea of the last six classes that took place. The leaders, on the other hand, develop this idea more widely: “What is stage design? How do you manage the space of the theatre scene? We sought answers to these and many other questions in a series of workshops inspired by the achievements of one of the most important theater artists of the twentieth century – Tadeusz Kantor. The participants created a mock-up of scenography based on the scenes from the performance “Dead class” but, above all, based on their own ideas and knowledge.”
So there were talks about the types of the stage, props, a bicycle wheel, which really does not always have to be a bicycle wheel and a dialogue about emotions. There was creating collages, playing short scenes and a trip to Cricoteka. It was from this trip that the children gathered a lot of memories. They repeated them to me many times …
“Tadeusz Kantor spins a “dramatic show” about dying, which begins already in childhood, using on the stage mannequins-corpses. These figures will become the symbol of his „Theater of Death.” – I read at www.ninateka.pl, trying to better understand the workshops.
I came only for the fourth class. I could not imagine that I could not come for another. Paradoxically, it was them who taught me how to use my imagination.
“Last week we were wondering how the audience can be set to the stage. It does not always have to be opposite. The audience can be around, the stage may have a diﬀerent shape, it may be two- story, it may have a catwalk … “– Julia Basista says firmly. Her voice is strong and warm. Everyone listens carefully. Spoken words play a big role here. – „You have to think about what you want it to be on this stage. What do you associate with the slogan: “dead class”. As we said, it is not meant to reflect what was in Cricoteka. Only your own interpretation.”
“Think about what props are needed for a dead class to be played on the stage” – Barbara concludes with a deep and clear voice – “It is important now to come up with a set, which we will then design in mock-ups.”
“But today I have two percent …” – one of the participants confesses quietly. Everyone in the group understands. In a joking way, they try to improve her energy and it is a beautiful experience. Everyone is laughing. Already at the beginning of the classes, the leaders initiated the sharing of their own “energy meter”. I am impressed by this understanding for the present state.
The projects were being created, and me, I watched the joy, movement and energy being born. I also saw calmness and concentration. I watched a blind girl touching the materials, how she cares about the texture. I was able to see the process of imagination in action. I saw how completely diﬀerent looks are created by imagination that could only have been created by those who “see” diﬀerently from the rest of us. I do not want to use the words “eye seeing correctly”. I begin to understand that we each create our own definition of vision. Traditionally, we treat blindness as a disorder, a malady. I’m beginning to understand that in this case the world creates its own definitions. Who told us that our way of seeing is the right one?
fot. Studio FilmLOVE, thanks to Cricoteka
I was walking around the small class room, trying to register those most valuable statements. In this way, I was given an extraordinary chance to experience the lesson of perception. See these non-existent live images. Seeing someone’s inner world conveyed with such great care, energy and sensitivity. Ultimately, it was a lesson in looking through closed eyes, seeing reality with unconceivable precision.
So I went to a small classroom, listening to: “Agnieszka, we already have an idea. I want to tell you about it.”
I closed my eyes, noticing in other way projects that were being created. I saw the stage in one design located low with the audience a bit higher. I saw the stage in another located in the middle with the audience sitting around. I saw a half-circle stage with a landing and a second floor. I saw a round and square space for actors. I could see the props: broken phones, a coﬃn, a board, the computer and the desks on it. I noticed traces of the feet of people who once passed that way.
I saw people who once passed that way. I watched how a Dead Class arises. A class that is created by children with endless energy and voice, who wants to speak or just keep silent.
The next classes were a fabulous finalization of the started projects. I felt completely comfortable among this group. I had the impression that they trusted me more as well.
“Here is the stage. This is where we make chairs and tables. Like from the Dead Class”– a loud and very joyful boy tells me. I watch them constructing props made of wooden blocks and black foam. I watch his friend creating a board try to write two words.
“I’m trying to make the scene will not smash.” – says a focused voice – “and Kasia is holding my glue” – she adds with a laugh. The girl feels that something is near her head, so she tries to touch it. I let her explore it without hindrance. When she had asked me for the name of the item, I explained that it was a sponge from the microphone. She nodded with concentration.
„Mobile phones, TV sets, computers will be broken on stage …”
“We do not necessarily understand the classroom by school classroom, but the class is associated with, for example, some current trend.”
“Our stage will be two-stories.” – one of the workshop participants explains to me saying nothing more.
“You must be a magician to make such a door. Something is not working out, but my friend helps me.”
“If it works out to me it will be very good.”
“I do not know if this project will work, but I hope for the best.”
I am asking about the texture, type and flexibility of the materials used. Very often it is the touch that allows you to see more. Lets you feel the image.
“I need a scissors.”, “Is there glue?”, “Now the lesson and topic.”, “Ideally works out.”, “I think it’s very creative.”
fot. Studio FilmLOVE, thanks to Cricoteka
“Ma’am, Ma’am! The project is finished! “– I finally hear and immediately run up to a satisfied group. I pause for a moment and I am delighted to say something to the microphone. Mock-ups represent the space of diﬀerent personalities, each reflecting a diﬀerent kind of thinking and perception of reality. All are about to appear at a specially designed exhibition. Although each stage looks diﬀerent, the feelings about their construction and final result are the same:
“This stage is amazing!”
“This project is simply brilliant!”
“My project is also brilliant!”
I hear loud and joyful summaries. Everyone is starting to congratulate each other and give each other high fives. Not everyone manages to do it, but the gesture is enough. Another way is enough.
“Our workshops are ending today. We want to thank you for all six of these meetings” Barbara begins with a smile.
“Our energy grew after each class” adds Julia. The girls, each give a summary of the classes. Some also revealed their feelings to me during the projects.
“I feel very good because I like to create such artistic things.”
„What I remember doing most are the models. They are very cool. I can somehow show my imagination here.”
“I will remember this stage for the rest of my life.”
“In this class I can relax and throw away all the bad emotions. It really calms me down.”
“It was a good time”
“Such activities are needed. It makes people calmer.”
“I cut out the foam for the first time!”
“There was great cooperation!”
I notice gratitude in the voices of children and my heart was moved by how much energy is there in people who, regardless of condition, create.
fot. Studio FilmLOVE, thanks to Cricoteka
“I liked the fact that you are so creative and so open to yourself. I liked that you are laughing so much, but also that you can listen to each other. This is wonderful and not so common. Usually, after the workshops I am very tired, and with you, when I leave here, I have more energy than when we started”– concludes Barbara cheerfully.
“For me, number of your ideas you all had was amazing. Very often you inspired me to do something, sometimes unconsciously. I went out of each class with much more energy than I went in with. After the classes, this energy soars.”– Julka laughs, and I am fascinated by the girls’ involvement and honesty in every word and gesture.
I hear loud applause, cheers and thanks. Taking the initiative is extraordinary. The moment when you give someone what they’ve been waiting for so long and they had not even realize it …
Suddenly, a joyful boy interrupts and adds: “Wait! What about Agnieszka?”
My heart beats very strong. Not because I’m afraid to speak, but because I am very happy that I can share something too. Using my imagination, I close my eyes and start to share the world of my interior. I’m talking about huge gratitude. Gratitude for the experience of participating in the workshop. I’m talking about creativity and the imagination that I admire and learned about.
“I’m glad that I could be here” – I hear the last words and at this point the question that I have already set for myself during the workshops returns to me.
Who told us that our way of seeing is the right one?
I wonder if there is one correct one. I come to the conclusion that there is not.
We have very strong decided in our minds that there is only one right way to see the world. A way that allows us to see trees, buildings, people around. A way that is somehow comfortable. The way that we considered to be ours, right and natural.
It seems to me that it is illusion. It seems to me that it is just another exclusion.
Taking part in the workshops, talking and listening to the statements of the blind and dim-sighted participants, I began to understand that their way of seeing the world is very important. It is extremely valuable and often underestimated, because it is associated with something incorrect.
Medicine calls it a disorder, I prefer to call it a diﬀerent way of seeing. A way much more demanding, but also a way that is able to create a reality that has not been noticeable.
I have the impression that by accepting something as normal and correct, we strongly limit our view of phenomena that are unfamiliar to us. I have the impression that we take our view too quickly as something obvious.
Maybe it is worth closing your eyes and going through reality in a way that paradoxically opens them even wider?
The original text was transleted by one and only Anna Maria Jeleniewska.
Projekt Wi(e)dzieć więcej, Ośrodek Dokumentacji Sztuki Tadeusza Kantora CRICOTEKA w Krakowie. Dofinansowano z ze środków Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego pochodzących z Funduszu Promocji Kultury w ramach programu Kultura Dostępna 2018.