ERASMUS+, Key Action 1: youth exchange
Venue: Tryavna, Bulgaria
Dates: 7—20 June 2023
National team: 8 participants (aged 16-24) + 1 group leader (18+)
Hosting organisation: Change Is in You (CYA)
There is picturesque village called Tryavna surrounded by beautiful wooded hills. Below them a stream, long and comforting, where the frogs bid us good night.
I am very grateful that, thanks to EYCB, I had the opportunity to go with a 9-member Czech team to the second year of The Art of Theater 2 project, which took place on 7-20 of June. It was also attended by Bulgarians, Lithuanians, Spaniards, Hungarians, one Polish and a Greek, who unfortunately left us during the course. So we experienced six great cultural nights, where the mood was always joyfully liberating and further bonded the group with dance, laughter and warmth of hearts.
The first day was filled with travel and adventure. We crossed the Romanian border and continued on their way. The landscapes and sights along the journey were breath-taking, especially the snow-capped mountains, which aren’t seen that often in Hungary and not even in the Czech Republic. We couldn’t wait to reach the Bulgarian border, and after about 22 hours of travel, the small yellow bus finally arrived in wonderful Bulgaria.
Even though the journey was tiring, we cherished every moment, because the mountains and the foreign country were a little different, but mysteriously charming. Already in the van, we started to break the ice with each other by singing. We broke it even more with team building games, where participants had to collaborate and communicate. Each activity was followed by a reflection after activity to understand, why we did it and learn from it for our future.
We started to get to know each other even deeper, the organizers, the hotel staff and the Bulgarian food. All of them tried to make our stay as pleasant as possible. Therefore, every evening we had sessions in groups, where we shared our positive and negative feelings and try to fix It.
In addition to the practical part, there were also theoretical lessons. Lecture about theater. We clarified the difference between theater and cinema and prepared short reports about history of theater in national groups. The presentation of our theater history was a great opportunity to educate about our national artistic heritage. To connect each other with our national energy. It gave us great feelings, because it is important to know about cultural differences.
Every day was full of new energy. In the preceding days, we discussed about our fears of the project. I believe, that we have all learned not to fight with our fears, but rather to make good friendship with them, listen and understand why. Every person had the opportunity to grab a marker and write their comments on a large piece of paper, everybody wrote our opinions enthusiastically.
Next, the organizers teached us, how to work with our body as a puppet, how to use the body as a tool to portray another person, but also an animal, things or emotion. We learned the principle of mind mapping, how to structure thoughts, when starting a new task or project, moving and breathing consciously, so that we could be heard well on stage and not be intimidated by our own voice. All of us applied the acquired knowledge to group dynamics, the basics of pantomime and the recitation of our poems. They gave us opportunity to move and peek into the 18th century at a court ball, dance the Polish polonaise and experience a bit of a medieval atmosphere, but we had the most fun seducing stage fights. Don’t worry, everything on stage is just a game.
We were guided through the entire project by an experienced actress and dramaturg, who not only inspired everyone with her harmony, but also introduced us to the techniques and work of world-famous writers and screenwriters, guided us through the entire process of entering a theater play, from inventing the plot and characters, adding its characteristics, through writing the script and performing it on stage in front of an audience. We split into groups, according to preferred genres. There was a choice of comedy, drama and musical. She followed our every step and always gave us constructive feedback. The most common fear on paper was the fear of going out in front of people, and we overcame it and moved on as personalities. Admission to our theater performances were voluntary and the proceeds went to support families, who lost their homes due to the flood in eastern Bulgaria. We are very exhilarated, that we through our aktivity could be at least a little bit helpful for good things.
Thanks to this project, we gained wonderful experiences and friends, who had tears in their eyes, when they were saying goodbye to us. With this, I would like to give big thank you for everyone behind the project, because this project not only broke the ice between us, but also within us. Thank you!