On the Thursday afternoon I headed, with several others, to San Michelotto Convent, guided by a student helper, for a workshop by Eran Natan a dramatherapist from Israel who uses voice and movement techniques. There were about forty of us in a large wooden floored room, none of us quite sure what to expect. What we got was one of the most inspiring, and amusing, workshops I've been to. We had various exercises to get us moving and breathing, including pretending to reach out for objects around us, breathing in as we stretched, then out as we grasped the object and brought it towards ourselves. Then came the main substance of the workshop - exploring different "locations" of our voice and the roles they take us into. This bit is one of those things where a written description will not be sufficient - you really did have to be there! However, here's my feeble attempt to describe it. If we speak from the top of our head we tend to speak in a high pitched voice and take on the role of a child or princess. If we allow it to come down to our nose, we may still be smiling but the nasal voice leads us into being a witch character. Down to the chest and you start strutting around like you own the place. You'll smile with open arms, but the message is clear: you'll do what I say - think of some politicians, Obama has that sort of feel to him sometimes, Blair tried to, Cameron can't!
Then the voice goes down to the hips and becomes earthy, maybe turning into a monster from the primeval swamp! The smile may become more of a leer. Eran got us to explore these roles and go round the room communicating to each other non-verbally in role. We also explored the transition between them, allowing our voices to sink and rise and getting slightly carried away by our roles at times.
Another exercise we did was working in pairs as guide/guided. The guided person would have to close their eyes and follow the guide's sounds. These could be any sound you like. The guide could also go down to the floor, as well as all over the room. I remember the young Italian lady who guided me saying, in a quiet but high pitched voice, something like "Toro, Toro", but I don't think she was calling me a bull!
I found this workshop liberating and exciting, and have already incorporated some ideas into a group I run jointly with a dramatherapist.
After this I had about half an hour to get to the School of Art in Lucca, and managed to grab a delicious, and in my opinion, well deserved ice cream (pistachio and nocciola (hazelnut) seemed suitably nutty!) on the way. I was heading to an Art workshop by well known Art Therapist Marian Liebmann on Anger. There were some problems at the venue getting hold of the art materials which meant that, by the time we were asked to paint Anger, we were all suitably annoyed! It was interesting comparing with each other - we were in pairs and I was with Eran Natan - seeing similarities and differences. Men often had a circle of black in the centre and some kind of eruption, perhaps reflecting the way that a lot of men bottle their anger up until it has to explode out. There was more variety in the women's art, but hard to find a common element. After this exercise we talked about what lies underneath anger - our own unmet needs and distress - and we painted these layers. Again I found that men had similar elements, with darkness at the bottom, unmet needs and unrecognised distress lurking below the centre. Marian held all this very well with her calm unflappable nature, and by silencing us quickly when necessary - she would raise her hand, and wait for everyone else to do the same. Simple, but effective! This finished at 6pm, so a long and intense day. After freshening up I went out for a meal and a few sips of wine with some lovely people from the UK, Belgium and other countries (my memory is fading already, but Deborah, Gosia, Leuven, you all know who you are!) Collapsed into bed about 1am exhausted but inspired, trying not to disturb my snoring room mates. The following morning was going to be the most exciting of the conference....