Creating a shared story

After the first session, facilitators started the second session with the “Two chairs” activity. All participants sat in a semi-circle. Dario Ferrante placed two chairs on the stage. One of them, the comfortable chair was a space of good feelings and positive reflection. The second chair was placed upside down as a representation of everything which is/was disturbing, uncomfortable,
problematic and difficult. Dario Ferrante was the first to speak about important events and feelings. In this way the participants understood
the essence of the activity and were encouraged to try it for themselves. This activity did not work very well as the language barriers were too strong to overcome the complexity of describing feelings and emotions in the first session. Some participants were asylum seekers just arrived in Sicily or with few language skills, so the “Two chairs” method wasn’t that successful.

After this activity, the facilitators used the “Chairs-Characters” to create a story. Facilitators believed that this technique was more appropiate to stimulate participants’ imagination then expressed in a written form, rather than verbal, so to test their writing skills. The participants sat in a semicircle. The facilitator placed one chair in front of them, and proposed to create a personage out of it through adding different items/objects. Whoever wanted to contribute to this joint act of creation provided the evolving character with new attributes. Participants used materials and objects which were in the room, together with a bag full of different things and objects that CSC uses for “creative thinking” activities. A sort of magic box full of strange and unusual objects. After a while another chair was placed in the room, this time lying upside down on the floor. Again, the group was encouraged to transform the chair into a character in the same way as before.

When the creation of all figures was completed the facilitator invited participants to analyze the image. First, the group reflected on the whole picture, talking about relations between individual characters and about the general character of the scene. Next, the facilitator focused attention of the participants on every figure, one by one, asking what visual elements was the most and the less important for their look and expression. The following questions were asked: What makes this figure to look like a man or a women or an animal? What details of the figure appearance are essential for its identity?

Next, the participants worked individually. They had 20 minutes to write down the stories which came to their mind in relation with the two characters created out of chairs. No suggestions regarding the form and style were given. In result a great variety of stories were created. After, the facilitator asked participants to come on stage one by one and read their stories aloud. Sometimes the stories were of a very personal character. In general, stories were simple and all focused on the figure of a teacher, as most of them identified the first character as a female teacher, so most of them created a story with her as protagonist!

Here is an example of the narration written by one of the participants:

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