mappa mundi creative sessions weekend

Go back to the the first mappa mundi blog and start at the beginning of the story of the development of mappa mundi

The mappa mundi creative sessions weekend took place on 2nd, 3rd and 4th November 2012 at Whittington Park Community Centre just off the Holloway Road in North London.  Nineteen people participated and, after a medley of exercises based on the work of Augusto Boal, Joanna Macy and participatory video, we shot 3 short drama videos about change.

The participants were culturally and generationally diverse.  About a third lived in the environs of Holloway/Finsbury Park.  There was a high creative energy and sharing within the group.

People were very inventive in the video exercises given by Sara Asadullah and Marleen Bovenmars from Insightshare, the experiential exercises given by Debbie Warrener opened up people’s perspectives and enabled them to share their stories and the drama exercises given by Jonathan Chadwick enabled people to define and stage their stories.

We are editing the videos and preparing for a presentation on Thursday 10th January 2013 at Whittington Park Community Centre.

Were discoveries made?  Beside the creative enthusiasm and the high productivity, were advances made in our understanding of how this work can be accomplished.  The key process of creative transformation that we were working for was the discovery of a general story about change derived from the individual stories.  In a debriefing session between Jonathan Chadwick and Debbie Warrener, the latter referred to this generalising component as the ‘meta-story’.

By asking people to share their experiences as stories and then to explore the similarities between them we wanted them to gain a sense of how the stories may express something about human change in general.  By focusing on these similarities, using the framework offered by Boal in ‘The Rainbow of Desires’ (Routledge London 1995), that entails differentiating responses between those of identification, of recognition and of resonance, we were attempting to make the transformation equivalent to what Boal calls the making of ‘the image of the images’.  In practical terms for Boal this involves taking the essential gestural image from participants stories and composing one image of them.  The images are made like tableaux, using the shaped and staged bodies of other members of the group.

The approach to this latter part of the creative process was undertaken on our weekend by three smaller groups of six people each.  What seemed to happen was that as the group recognised the specificity of a given individual story and realised it at a more and more specific level the general dimensions of all the group’s stories seemed to emerge.  The process of generalisation actually derived from the process of specification and actualisation.

This may seem to be counterintuitive.  The process of generalisation would usually be associated with an effacement of detail and specificity.  However this creative movement is consonant with what Joseph Campbell observes about myth as an underlying story.  Also, in Jung‘s work there is an awareness of how the particular self, as it engages with its own particularity, at a key moment is immersed in the collective unconscious and realises itself as a larger Self.  This is the basis for his work on archetypes.  It is also close to how Antonin Artaud perceived the transformations that are wrought in the act of giving representations of the human in theatre.

Looking back at our work over the weekend the collective character of the mappa mundi project has confirmed itself.  This is really only the beginning.



Leave a Reply