The province of South Kivu shares international borders with Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, and has one of the highest population densities in the DRC. This is especially the case in areas surrounding Bukavu, the capital of about 800,000 people, situated at the southernmost part of Lake Kivu. We made day trips to the village of Cireja (northern Kabare), about 40 km north of our base in Bukavu.
Soils in the region vary from fertile soils, rich from volcanic deposits, to highly weathered, degraded soils. Landcapes range from rainforests to highlands, to dry pastoral plains. Rainfall is bimodal with two growing seasons: one from mid-September to mid-January (season A); and the second from mid-February to mid-June (season B). Northern parts of Kabare territory, where we worked, are considered fertile due to past volcanic activity. Farmers in the territory also benefit from two relatively predictable rainy seasons. Beans and soy grow well here, and the latter can be processed in local mills for home consumption or for sale. Other typical crops for home consumption are cassava and maize, supplemented by smaller quantities of crops such as sunflower, squash, and green leafy plants. Cash crops include sugarcane, rice and vegetables (e.g. tomatoes, aubergines), in addition to the option of selling maize and beans. Livestock include cattle, pigs, goats and small animals such as chickens, guinea pigs and rabbits.
South Kivu, and surrounding eastern provinces, were the epicentre of the two Congo Wars. The first, from 1996 to 1997, the second from 1998 to 2003, as well as the subsequent transition years from 2003-2006 and the period up to the present are extremely complex narratives, involving multiple dimensions of geo- and historical-politics. Whether because they were forced to flee, or because conflict arrived at their doorsteps, people lost family and friends, homes, land, crops, and livestock. Social networks and infrastructure related to market access were also disrupted. In 2016, farmers are still dealing with related consequences, one being access to new seed varieties, which are a vital community resource in any rural context.
From 2009 to 2013 N2Africa, a “research-in-development” project promoting in biological nitrogen fixation, worked with a national partner and local NGOs to introduce improved seed varieties and agricultural techniques throughout South Kivu. The new seeds were primarily those of staple crops, and were bred for characteristics such as improved tolerance to drought, less required cooking time, and biofortification (they were not GMO seeds). Soy seeds and processing techniques, though not a staple crop, featured strongly in the project due to its nutritional value, potential as a cash crop, and ability to biologically fix nitrogen (BNF). The agricultural field techniques included making and application of compost, synthetic fertilisers, sowing in lines, and the role of commercially-produced inoculum in BNF.
This film is part of a much larger project, run by the Development Economics Group at Wageningen University, that sought to assess the impact of N2Africa’s intervention in South Kivu. The project is a follow-up to two months of qualitative research (i.e. interviews) performed throughout South Kivu, DRC. The aim was to better understand the relationships between socio-cultural dynamics and the spread of new agricultural technologies. It was part of a much larger project seeking to assess the impact of a previous research and development intervention – the introduction of improved variety seeds, biological nitrogen fixation, and other field management techniques. After conducting interviews with farmers and locally-based agronomists who work closely with them, it was clear that access to new seed varieties, while considered a precious community resource, was influenced by social networks and positions within.
Associating video and theatre
While scientific research responds to questions in important ways, research using audiovisual tools such as video allows a response that acknowledges complementary information such as emotion, colour, personal story-telling and quotidian details – all of which may prove to be unexpectedly informative. Engaging with these aspects of people’s lives is key to understanding and moving forward with challenges that are grounded in reality. Video has the advantage of not only communicating this type of sometimes intangible, abstract data, but also diffusing to actors (e.g. policy makers, researchers) who may not have the opportunity to spend much time in the field.
What did we do?
In the interest of communicating the process of this project, this is a summary of what we did in the field. We encourage you to contact us for more information and to share your own experiences: email@example.com
We started the process by contacting Marielle and Didier, our interpreters based in Bukavu, presenting the project to them and practicing some exercises.
Next, we drove out to meet with Alphonse Bisusa, chief of the farmer’s association ADEA, who also happens to be the chief of the village. His political and logistical support was crucial.
The first workshop included women, only, some of whom had already met Marielle and Jennifer during their qualitative research on the same subject in 2014. It was followed by two others, which included men. The workshops were a time to get to know each other (the farmers did not necessarily know each other, even if they were part of the same association), gain each other’s confidence by participating in exercises together, test the farmers’ receptiveness to working with us and theatre, and to learn about each other. See the journal below for details.
After the workshops, we spent three more days repeating certain exercises (such as the trust circle, hypnosis, machine of rhythms), and added role plays, two tableaux vivants. For the role plays, Jennifer proposed a theme (e.g. a story about giving/receiving seeds between family members that includes a possible, real-life conflict), and the farmers decided the story and who would play what role. They performed it once, without any practice or explanation, improvising along the way. Only after, primarily during the translation and footage logging during the evening did we, the outsiders, understand nuances of the dialog and storyline. The tableaux vivants were conducted similarly. Two themes were proposed by Anna-Karina (our theatre facilitator) and Jennifer, and farmers organised themselves and created the scenarios and movements as they wished. The first theme was for each person to bring a tool from home, and then create a scene while putting it to use. The second was “a market scene”, with props created on the spot. After each exercise we held a group discussion to give time for participants to react, ask questions, propose ideas, and share their interpretations.
Several additional days were spent conducting interviews and filming scenes in homes and in the field.
The final activity was editing and screening a 30-minute collage of exercises, the tableaux vivants, and role plays for the participating farmers and their families. This was followed by a discussion open to all, including people who did not participate in the project (i.e. other association members, family members).
JOURNAL: Three days of theatre exercises
The journal entries that follow were kept by Anna-Karina Caudevilla, our forum theatre facilitator. They describe the workshops of exercises she designed and led, which took place before the improvised role plays and other, more elaborate performances.
Thursday, February 18th, 2016 (Workshop #1)
Exercise #1: Introductions
To be done in pairs. Each person introduces him or herself, and then their partner. After everyone has completed this first round of introductions, each pair is asked to prepare a second round of introductions. The pairs are asked to dialogue about details or information that were not presented to the group in the first round, information that they believe is important for the others to know about, and each pair is to agree upon what new information will be presented in the second round.
Objectives: To gain a better understanding of ourselves and others through the labels we apply during introductions. Introductions form part of the many masks we put on in our daily lives, masks that can become rigid. We use these labels when speaking of ourselves and of others, oftentimes without even questioning if they are real, applicable or appropriate. The second round of introductions is to be used as a space for dialogue between two people who may, or may not, know each other in order to break through rigid or over-simplified masks. It is the moment for two people to discuss other important qualities, or details, about each other that are worthy of presentation. Disagreement during this second round can be very constructive as the pairs can help each other understand their varying points of view. In an ideal second round, each person in the pair provides a completely different version of him or herself and of their partner.
Results: First round introductions consisted of presenting how many children they have (how many have died and survived), the fact that they are married, their profession (farmer and/or herder) and the village they are from. With the exception of one couple, the second round of introductions was the same as the first. They all repeated the same information and only one couple added a detail that they had forgotten to present in the first round (the fact that they have goats).
Observations: The women always want to know why they are to do the exercises, what the objectives are. They observe immensely and need to understand every detail, particularly the practicalities of doing these games that are not immediately applicable to their daily lives.
Thoughts for improvement: This exercise was more challenging than I had assumed. The objectives of this exercise should be explained in detail and time taken to ensure that they are well understood by the participants. Although I wanted to avoid acting out a concrete example of the dialogue in pairs between rounds one and two, I think that it would have greatly aided the others. The time allotted for dialogue between two people in a pair who do not know each other would need to be greater. They would need to pose questions, begin to know each other, before they could extract new information or details about the other person that they consider important to share with the group. They also need the time to come to an agreement about which labels are to be presented during the second round.
Exercise #2: Trust Circle
Everyone is formed in a tight circle with one person in the middle of the circle. This person crosses their arms, closes their eyes and is to fall back, while maintaining their body rigid, letting those forming the circle to catch him/her. The people forming the circle pass the person in the middle around and around. The person in the middle is to maintain their body rigid the whole time, avoiding any body adjustments (such as bending their knees, or moving their feet, in order to break the fall).
Objectives: This is a trust, concentration and group solidarity game. The person in the middle of the circle must trust that his/her colleagues will not let him/her fall. Those forming the circle must focus at all times in order to ensure that they will not let their colleague fall. They must also pay attention to those next to them in the circle. If some of those forming the circle are not as strong, everybody else needs to be aware of this. Everyone should make sure to help those who are less strong catch, and pass, the person in the middle. This is a group exercise whereby the errors of one person can have an immediate negative impact for the others, particularly for the person in the middle.
Results: Xaverina the Elder understood the exercise immediately. She told us that she had total trust in the others. She had no fear and really liked the sensation. She felt as if she were floating in the sky. The others thought they were going to fall or would get dizzy. They were always bending their legs or bodies, preventing them from free-falling, and as such, demonstrating their fear and lack of trust. We spent a good amount of time on this exercise and Xaverina was the only one who really let herself go.
Didier’s explanation: Solidarity is important for both their community and association. If each person doesn’t do their part, others may fall and as such will not trust that person. Each member has a role to play and if they do not complete that role correctly, there is a « hole », a lack that leaves others exposed.
Exercise #3: Using objects other than their intended purpose.
Objects that are at hand are placed somewhere in front of the group. They can be any object, there are no restrictions. One by one, each person chooses one of these objects and uses it in any context, other than the object’s quotidian use. Sounds should be avoided. The spectators should understand what the object has become via a silent performance.
Objectives: To use one’s imagination when looking at, and using, everyday objects. Participants should transform themselves while interpreting the object in a new way. For example, if someone uses a shoe as a heavy pot, he/she should demonstrate the weight through their facial expressions and body gestures. Small details need to be taken into consideration in order to realistically trans-form the objects into something else.
Didier ’s explanation: This exercise helps them to find solutions by looking at objects differently so as to use them outside of their original purpose.
Exercise #4: Hypnosis
Working in pairs, one person holds their face a few centimeters away from the hand of the other. The Hypnotizer moves their hand around and the other one must move so that their face is always only a few centimeters away from the Hypnotizer’s hand. Care must be taken not to move the hand too quickly but the Hypnotizer should try and push his/her partner into foreign, uncomfortable, and new body postures.
Objectives: Concentration, discovering one’s body and taking care of another. The Hypnotized have to pay close attention in order to maintain their face at the same distance from the Hypnotizers’ hands at all times. They are also required to move in ways that they most likely have not done in a long time, perhaps never in their lives. This activates the muscles of the body, reminding us of movements that we used to do, or can do. The Hypnotizers must pay attention to their movements. If movements are too fast or impossible to follow, nobody will be able to follow, or they might hurt themselves. Hypnotizers are required to take care of their partners while at the same pushing them to move in ways that are different, perhaps even uncomfortable.
Didier’s explanation: When guiding or showing someone something new (i.e. bringing a new member to their association, showing them a new technology, parents guiding children, village chief and the community) they must be careful and attentive. The one who follows must pay close attention to the guide and do their best to follow them. Both sides must pay close attention and work together carefully.
Results: We only had time to demonstrate this exercise and let some of the women try it while the others watched.
Comments from the women: This exercise can help them with their balance, for example, when they are high up and start feeling dizzy, or when crossing a bridge – so they won’t fall.
Friday, February 19th, 2016 (Workshop #2):
Exercise #1: Trust Circle
Results: More time was spent in explaining more details about this exercise and we practiced just falling back and forward, not side to side. Many of them were almost impatient to try today (including Xaverina the Elder and Xaverina the Younger who were the first volunteers yesterday). In general, they seemed to understood much better. A few of the women kept their bodies rigid, avoiding bending their knees or their bodies, doing their best to keep their feet together and in the center.
Observations: Quite a lot of time was spent on this exercise but it seemed to be very satisfactory for them because they saw that they were getting it. There were many laughs during the exercise. Maria was always making funny comments that made everyone crack up. Although we spent a good amount of time on this exercise, the women did not seem to mind at all. On the contrary.
Comments from the women: They love the exercise now as they understand what they need to do.
Exercise #2: Hypnosis
(See Workshop #2 for full description of this exercise). First, everybody works in pairs, then in groups of three and finally, the whole group together. When working in three’s, one person is the Hypnotizer and each hand guides another.
Objectives: Guiding two or more people is much more difficult than guiding only one person. The Hypnotizer must take more care to ensure that hand movements will not force the Hypnotized to collide into one another.
Results: Complete and total concentration during the 3 versions. See photos.
Observations: Very informative in terms of body gestures, grace, how they, and where they, guide each other. Some really worked to bring their partner close to the ground while others simply moved their hand from side to side very slowly. Nobody ever made any fast movements. There was an aura of gentleness and silence throughout these exercises.
Exercise #3: Rhythm Series
A) Exercise: Specific movements are associated with a series of claps (i.e., when the group hears one clap, they must stand still, two claps, they must sit down, etc.). These movements are to be determined by the group before the exercise begins. Someone from the group is chosen as the « clapper ». Once the movements per number of claps are agreed upon by the group, everybody walks around the space trying to find the same rhythm.
Objectives: Concentration and rhythm. This exercise requires participants to memorize a series of movements that are linked to numbers (represented by the sound of the claps). The group should simultaneously try to create the same rhythm while walking, no matter what movements are associated with the claps.
Results: We did this two times. The first round consisted of random movements. The women started singing and dancing while doing the exercise. Good rhythm. Also many laughs when anybody messed up the movement according to clap. For the second round, we chose movements related to their work. They seemed much less motivated by this. No singing and dancing.
B) Exercise: A round of rhythm and movement. Everybody forms a circle around one person. The person in the center of the circle makes a rhythmic movement while simultaneously emitting a sound. Both movement and sound need to be repeated over and over again. The others, who make up the circle, are to imitate both movement and sound as accurately as possible. Once everybody is making the same movement and sound as the person in the middle, another person enters the center of the circle and replaces the other. Replacement should be done slowly. The person who is to replace the other should enter the circle while maintaining the movement and sound initiated by the person being replaced. Then, he/she should slowly transform the initial movement and sound into another movement and sound. Those forming the circle will then change accordingly. Each person should have a turn in the center.
Objectives: To undo our personal structuring, the mechanized ways that we move, make sound, etc. Imitating someone’s movements and sounds, as accurately as possible, also provides information to the person being imitated – our perception/vision of this person.
Results: Most of the sounds emitted were the same. They did not make an array of body movements. Mostly simple shuffling, their arm movements were all pretty much alike.
C) Exercise: Machine of rhythms.
One person begins by imagining that he/she is part of a machine. This person makes a repeated movement and sound. A second person adds their own repeated movement and sound, and so on, until everybody is making their own movement and sound as various parts of a machine. Once everyone is involved, the machine starts speeding up (rhythm of both their movements and sounds need to speed up) until the machine is about to explode. At this point, the machine starts slowing down until almost turned off. The machine can be anything. It can represent a feeling, or a theme, or a place, etc. (i.e., farming, the market, food preparation, feeding). The person guiding the exercise marks the machine’s tempo by
indicating when it should speed up and slow down.
Objectives: The participants work on interpreting different machines (emotional, political, social, etc.) in order to create an internal and unified rhythm. Everybody involved in this exercise has to listen to the others as best as they can, while simultaneously maintaining their own rhythmic sound. Here, individuals work together as part of a machine, ensuring that they maintain the same rhythm, regardless of tempo.
Results: Did this one quickly as we were running out of time. All of them followed each other in a circle (despite Didier’s repetitive reminder that they could, and should, walk around all over the place as they wished). The only exception was Noella who walked around in the total opposite direction of the others, and her sound was also very different from the others.
Final comments before closing: They feel much more comfortable and supple. They like what we are doing – it takes them away from the worries of their daily lives, they stop thinking about their worries for a while.
Observations: Today, increased excitement was evident overall. The two young mothers (Annuarite and Noella), who seem very shy, were much more participative (i.e., pushed others out of the way so that they could be in the center of the trust circle).
After Didier explained the project to the men, we asked them if they had any questions. They only had one. Would they receive free seeds after participating in this project?
Exercise #1: Introductions
Due to the results of this exercise with the women, we decided just to have them introduce themselves in pairs and not do a second round.
Results: All of the men talked about the following: marriage status, number of children, whether they had lost wives and children, and how far they got in their studies. Several of them commented on how they wanted to continue their studies but due to certain hardships were not able to and had to begin working. The pairs know each other really well. Centwali* and Murhula are cousins, Cidoro is like Bunani’s second father (Cidoro was a very close friend of Bunani’s deceased father), and Pascal and Alain have known each other for a long time too.
* Centwali had to drop out after the first workshop due to his wife being ill. He has been replaced by Amisi.
Exercise #2: Trust Circle
Results: Overall, they understood the exercise almost immediately. Those who needed help understanding were given instructions by the others. When certain participants noticed that some others were not in the proper position to receive, and send, the person in the middle, they took it upon themselves to correct their body postures. They also closed their eyes and really seemed to enjoy the exercise.
Exercise #3: Using objects other than their intended purpose
Results: They had some difficulties with this exercise as some of them used the objects as they are supposed to be used. For those that did not, they did not stray too far from the original purpose (a pen became a cigarette, for example). There was quite a bit of hesitation on their part and I did not get the feeling that they felt inspired by this exercise. This is curious considering what happened later (day #3) when Pascal fabricated a beer bottle out of a plant stalk.
Exercise #4: Hypnosis
Results: As was the case with the women, they were very concentrated during all three of the ver-sions and made careful, slow movements.
Exercise #5: Rhythm Series
A) Exercise: Movements and Clapping.
Results: No singing and dancing during the clap exercise but they memorized the movements quicker than the women did. The movements they chose for the second round were: pruning a tree, milking a cow and making banana beer.
B) Exercises: A round of rhythm and movement + the machine of rhythms.
Results: Their sounds and movements for the machine series were more developed and var-ied. Their final machine was excellent and really demonstrated a machine, both visually and vocally. Very well executed.
Final comments before closing: We asked them a couple of times for their comments, questions, etc. after the first exercises but they did not have any feedback for us. They were very good at listening to the instructions and executing. They definitely demonstrated enjoyment (smiles, laughs, desire to do the exercises repeatedly, or for an extended period of time) but discussions afterwards did not occur. They remained in silence when we asked them to give us feedback.
Observations: The time difference in completing the exercises between the two groups is of importance. The men completed all of the exercises in only a couple of hours, whereas, we spent two long mornings with the women in order to complete the exact same series. Much more time was allocated to explaining the exercises to the women. However, they had more questions and more feed-back. The men tended to listen and them immediately execute. No questions, nor feedback.
Saturday, February 20th, 2016 (Workshop #3)
WOMEN’S + MEN’S WORKSHOPS
Exercise #1: Trust Circle
Results: Both groups set themselves up immediately to start off with the Trust Circle. We did not have to prompt them. I think it is safe to say that they really love this exercise.
Exercise #2: Circle of throwing and receiving sounds.
Everybody forms a wide circle. One person begins the exercise by emitting a sound that they « throw » to someone else. The person emitting the sound must also make a gesture with his/her arms, hands, entire bodies (should they choose to) demonstrating that they are throwing a sound to another person. The person to whom the sound has been thrown must « receive » the sound sent to them while simultaneously repeating that same sound as accurately as possible. The receiver must show with their arms, hands, etc, the gesture of receiving. The receiver then becomes the sender, emitting a different sound to another person in the circle who in turn must make a gesture of receiving while repeating the received sound. This person then sends out another sound, and so forth.
Objectives: As with the other sound and movement exercises, participants are asked to imitate as accurately as possible their colleagues, thus forcing them to listen and observe others. The receiving and giving gestures reveal something about each person as we do not receive, nor give, in the same way.
Results: The difference between the women’s and men’s group was astounding. We spent an hour on this exercise with the women as they did not understand (as a group) how to execute the various instructions together. The women did not vary their sounds very much. A large portion was always the same. Often times, they simply repeated the sounds of their colleagues. About half of the group always gave to their neighbor, no matter how many times we repeated that they could give their sound to anyone in the group. They always forgot that they had to repeat the sound sent to them before sending out a different one. The men, on the contrary, understood the instructions quickly. They made a whole array of sounds and applied, almost immediately, the gesture to receive the sound and then the gesture to send out a different sound.
Observations: Most of the women never made the gesture to receive the sound. They were always instinctively giving with their hands and bodies, never receiving, regardless of whether or not the sound was a received or emitted one. As can be seen from the results, the men did not react in the same manner. I keep asking myself if this isn’t perhaps related to gender roles. Women have a hard time « receiving », they are always « giving » while men are used to doing both.
Exercise #3: Frozen Images
Working in pairs, each duo is to choose a scenario that they will demonstrate to the group with their frozen bodies. The others have to describe what is going on in the frozen scene.
Objectives: To analyze the various possibilities of what a frozen image might mean. Each person’s interpretation is a reflection of that person. In talking about what we see, we are also talking about ourselves. Explaining why we think a certain image represents a certain scene, we are revealing something about ourselves. The choice of the frozen image that each pair makes also reveals something about them.
Results – Women’s group: Most everybody had some idea/proposal regarding the frozen image and in the end, as a group, they were correct with regard to Image #2. However, for Image #1, the only thing they ascertained was that there was a conflict between the two people in the image, nothing more.
Image #1: A husband has cheated on his wife and feels guilty. He is begging for forgiveness. The wife is angry.
Image #2: A mother and daughter are reunited after having not seen each other in a long time.
Observations: As an outsider, I found that their images were almost impossible to understand. The women’s expressions and postures were not, for me, very revealing. See photos. Regarding Image #1, the fact that one of the women was a husband seemed to throw everyone off. The women did not imagine that their colleague was playing a man. It didn’t cross their mind that acting out a man was a possibility.
Results – Men’s group: Their analyses of the frozen images were always correct. The men were also very attentive to details, like the position of someone’s hands, all of the different subtleties of non-verbal communication. For example, when Pascal grabbed Murhula, he did so with the force and anger that he wanted to portray, once frozen. He went into the image with the emotion before he froze.
Observations: I found the men’s expressions, and postures, to be much more revealing and theatrical.
Image #1: A son needs advice from his father.
Image #2: A father is scolding his son for having gone off to see another woman when the father has just found him a wife.
Image #3: A father is punishing his son.
Exercise #4: Masks
One person starts walking around and the others must capture, and reproduce, that person’s « mask ». Each person must try and reproduce, not just the physical gestures and facial expressions, but the inner force driving the person. For example, someone may demonstrate visible signs of being strong but inside, they are actually very tired. The others must try to capture and reproduce this inner feeling.
Objectives: To understand the inner forces that make up a person’s exterior appearances. This in turn may help to understand the social contexts that brings about these inner forces.
Results: They ended up choosing certain characters, and then everybody walked around interpreting that person in their own way. Both groups’ interpretations were absolutely amazing. So many details. I wish we had filmed this exercise. So much was said about how they perceive power, addiction and affliction.
Women’s group: Village Chief, a sick person, looking for their lost goats and a drunk man.
Men’s group: Village Chief, stoner, drunk man and a glutton.
Observations: In this exercise, the « drunk man » either started, or very quickly ended up, completely passed out on the floor. The difference in this social reality struck me. They did not portray someone weaving, singing, talking nonsense that is unintelligible, or any other theatrical stereotypes of a drunkard. For them, a drunkard is the final state of being passed out.
Thoughts for improvement: I am not sure why this exercise proved to be difficult. Seeing beyond the exterior mask of someone, in order to portray the inner feeling with one’s body, was not fully grasped. Was it a language problem? A cultural one (it is not proper to act out what you know, or think, about the inner workings of another person)?
Exercise #5: Modeling – illustrating topics with their bodies or creating a painting
First, everybody must decide upon a set number of participants to illustrate a theme. This theme is to be chosen by the group. One by one, each person comes to the center of the room and strikes a pose that they feel illustrates part of the theme. Once the painting is complete, we ask the others if they would like to suggest another image for the same theme. Those who would like to propose something different come to the center, tap the person whom they would like to replace (who then leaves the scene) and then they interpret the theme in another way.
Objectives: As with the frozen image exercise, this exercise reveals much about the participants in the painting, as it does about those who are watching. Who changes what and why? What painting does the group choose to paint? This exercise is a more detailed and complex image of those participating, as well as of their society.
Results – Women’s group: They did not replace anybody but they did make corrections to the positions and expressions of those composing the painting. The scene that they chose to represent: a drunk and violent husband starts beating his wife and children as soon as he arrives home. The wife and children are running to hide. The facial expression of Xaverina the Younger was really powerful.
Results – Men’s group: Nobody replaced anybody either. Like the women, they simply corrected postures and expressions in order to better the image. However, both spectators and actors corrected the scene. They chose to paint the celebration of the birth of a child. Marielle interpreted the wife. Characters: husband, wife, man playing the drums, drunk friend drinking a beer and another friend who is mad because there is no more beer left.
Observations: Alcohol is evidently very present in their lives. The use, and abuse, of it has come up many times throughout various exercises.
Exercise #6: Re-enactment and transformation of a real-life event
This exercise is done in two phases. Each person thinks of something that really happened in their lives. They then choose the number of members that are needed in order to re-enact the event. The event is explained to the members and then then re-enactment takes place. For the second round, the main character must begin the scene differently and the others must react accordingly in order to transform the event.
Objectives: By re-enacting a real-life event, and then altering it with others, each person experiences the reality of transformation. Everybody has the power to transform any given moment with one small change in movement, tone of voice, gesture, etc. Those involved will alter their reactions accordingly.
Results: This exercise was done only with the men’s group as we did not have time with the women.
Amisi’s re-enactment: One day Amisi is attacked by a man with a gun who wants his food but Amisi fights back, throws the man’s gun far away and then runs off.
Transformation: Amisi does not fight back, gives the thief everything, including his shoes, and then is released by the robber.
Cidoro’s re-enactment: Two neighbors have a dispute about the division of their fields. In order to help resolve the problem, they call upon the Village Chief for advice. The Chief doesn’t know how to solve the dispute so they go in search of witnesses to testify so as to find out if someone had moved the barriers that mark where one field starts and the other one ends.
Transformation: One neighbor attacks the other one. Some of the witnesses chase the attacker who has immediately run off, while one person takes the injured neighbor to the doctor. The attacking neighbor is caught, brought before the Chief and condemned to jail and his land is taken away.
Exercise #7: Staging a scene
In order to prepare the groups for next week’s filming of scenes related to our research, we asked them to act out a scene that demonstrates seed distribution. They chose the characters, what to do, etc. Essentially, they staged everything.
Scenario – Women’s group: A mother-in-law is planting seeds in her field. She gives beans to her daughter-in-law, then to her neighbor and finally to her daughter. She then goes to see the Village Chief in order to let him know that she has planted her field so that he can tell the other villagers that they need to keep their livestock away from her field. The Chief takes note of this.
Final comments before closing: They were in disagreement as to the order of the seed receivers. Some said that the mother should give to her biological daughter first, then to the daughter-in-law, while others said that seeds should be given to the neighbor before the family members.
Scenario – Men’s group: We ran out of time (no final discussion) so they enacted out a similar situation to that of the women. One difference, the ending. Instead of giving out their seeds, some of the men go to the market to sell their beans.
Observations: We had asked them to act out the scene as women in order to integrate the mask series concept. Although they did not openly oppose our request, they did not do it.