What can we do?
# Embody and explore distant perspectives1: As a group, sketch the qualities, roles or characters that are repeatedly involved in tense, heated confrontation. Then take a step back and look at this landscape: what are the characters that several of you struggle with (frown at) the most? In the following, take time to explore this character. Then, demonstrate what you learned to the group – what does it take and feel like to be that character?
- Draw a map of the principle characters involved:
=> create an impersonal account of who (which parts of you/the group) gets upset – the protective, the responsible care taker, the freedom-seeking radical ..? Interacting with who else? Which places, associations or identities play an important role? Is every part of the map clear to everyone in the group?
- Identify hot-spots & form teams to explore them:
=> where on the map do you sense ‘energy accumulating’? As a group, identify ‘hot-spots’ for further exploration (for example by each of you allocating 10 points in total to one or different parts of the map). Then form a team for the most important 2-4 characters/hot-spots: ask each of you to enter the team of the character they identify the least with.
- ‘Hack’ your character:
=> in each team, start the role-exploration process by taking turns at sitting down on a chair that represents the role. When you sit on the chair, identify with the role: how have you ever felt like this? Find, even if it is just a tiny facet, an element of your self that reflects the essence of the role you are exploring.
=> then ask: what does this character perceive, feel, do, or need? Embody the emotions and nonverbal expressions that you associate with the role. Speak from within it: how safe do you feel when you take on this role? (security); What does this role take care of, strive for?(purpose); To whom / where does this role (want to) belong? (membership);
=> Somebody else takes notes. After each of you has done this, take a look at your findings and see if anything needs to be clarified or added.
- Share with the group:
=> now, one team presents their findings to the whole group – for example, tell a story from your character’s perspective, and highlight / summarise your main points on a board visible to all.
=> importantly, at this point, the larger group only listens (and asks clarifying questions if needed)
- Hear everybody’s view:
=> when the team has finished presenting, the whole group positions themselves: go stand close to the team/stage if you resonate with their description of the character, or stay further away, if you disagree or find important aspects of the character are still missing.
=> now a moderator / somebody from the presenting team goes to the furthest-away individuals, asks them to come to the stage/presentation board, and to voice what else needs to be taken into account for the role to be accurately described from their perspective.
=> listen to each perspective on this role. There may be contradictory experiences and views – that is no problem. The idea of this process is to hear and gather all views present.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 for each character!
Close by remembering moments that remarkably moved the group – to smile, murmur, laughter, tears.
You might also do a debrief in pairs / trios:
(1) what did you learn?
(2) what was particularly annoying (and where might that still be very useful)?
1 This activity closely follows the steps of Lukas Hohler’s GrundkraftProzess.