A Millennial in Erasmus+ – The First Stepping Stone & Int’ Contact Making blog.
Erasmus+ The First Stepping Stone & International Contact Making Seminar and Marketplace.
Over the last month, I’ve entered the small matrix of hotel corridors and conference rooms that forms a deceptively sedate backdrop to Erasmus+
An unexpected turn of events, the portal into this world was an invitation to participate in an international theatre seminar, representing Stream-Lyric and socially engaged theatre in the UK. As a Millennial brought up among the hubbub of the Erasmus scene at university, this opportunity to engage with growing, positive networks in the EU felt important. Those of us who were small in the eighties were on the receiving end of some fervent new PSE at primary level – the kind that celebrates equality and inclusivity with colourful ethnographic maps. Unlike our baby-boomer parents, we were schooled in the mind-art of questioning prejudice and what I’ll call ‘localcentricities’ – narrowing our worlds to the conventions of our villages or market-towns. Issues like global warming were subtly being introduced to ‘carpet-time’ and the global knick-knacks of the left-leaning teens of the 60s/70s filled our peripheral vision at home. This consciousness of a global community to be embraced was reinforced when meeting armies of Erasmus students in common rooms and student bars. They dressed differently, had a slightly different approach to the mating game but were exciting, essential additions to our burgeoning lives. We wanted to learn from them. Given this education in liberal cooperation, as reinforced by the 97-2010 Labour government, it’s fair to say that many Millennials feel particularly betrayed by the regressions of Brexit. Who is this establishment that makes judgements as our grandparents or even great grandparents would? Given this background, entering a community that exists to promote exchange of training methodologies and mobility in Europe feels like a motion to solidarity or an act of protest/diplomacy. And who better to explore solidarity than a group of professional theatre artists!
‘The First Stepping Stone,’ a five-day seminar, brought together five nations: Italy, Portugal, Spain, UK and Ireland at Cork Community Art-Link. Days were long and packed with mapping the journey of socially engaged work from conception to evaluation and sharing physical/sensory/word-based workshops from La Stranaidea, INCA Catalunya, Autonomia e Descoberta and Stream-Lyric. Alongside this was a consistent examination of our intentions as individuals, companies and a network, which left us on a unanimous high of purpose matched by support. Language barriers demanded acute effort of clear communication and instigated the kind of instinctive ‘flow-state’ that acting tutors would be proud of. It highlighted that many of the battles in our daily lives are affected by willingness to communicate. Such desire to get to the ‘root’ of each other by means of intention, spontaneous gesture and stringing words together, I believe helped us to look at each other in essence. Words lost in translation also provided a joyful point of reflection. The word ‘revalorisation’ was often applied by EU colleagues to their objectives for audiences of marginalised communities – meaning to inspire new pride in one’s people and surroundings. I like the bravery and risk-taking implied by this quite antique word.
The second instalment of Erasmus action this month was the International Networking Seminar/Marketplace hosted in Derry by LID+ A more marker-pen and pin-board based affair, it centred around mentoring towards applying for project funds. It was a rare privilege to be invited to this and to have the luxury of a 1:1 mentor (in my case, Olga from fantastic company, The Ha Moment). This was a very specific kind of two-day experience, which provided a structured merry-go-round of conversations with potential international partners and consequently meant that a pitch became quickly distilled and refined. Again, an element that shone through was that of intention: Who am I to do this? Who is anyone to do this? Why does it matter? The separate marketplace event was a little different and specifically saw the gathering of multiple EU artist-educators, creative training and youth companies gather, incorporating workshop sessions. The high quality artistic products associated with work of social commentary particularly impressed me and furthered a desire to create high quality platforms for marginalised voices across media and with the advocacy of writers and artists.
Both experiences offered an absolutely supportive testing ground for one’s ethical vision and how this can be collectively achieved in an increasingly self-isolationist Europe.