|Creative Training - A User's Guide (IIRR, 1998, 226 pages)|
With performers gathered from the farthest parts of the Philippines - from Mindanao in the south to the Cordillera in the north, with a big troupe from Cavite itself. We had acrobatic feats on the photocopier, juggling, balancing acts, custard pie throwing, and some healthy whip cracking to keep chaos at bay. Traditional distinctions between 'formal' and 'non-formal' education were thrown aside with gay abandon right from the start - creative trainings can happen any time, any place, anywhere.
The writers took to the stage, and then as though it were not challenge enough to put their transparencies the right way round on the OHP had to actually bellow out the activity sheet word by word. Who will ever forget that fearful moment when the moderator cheerily says, 'Um, any comments or clarifications?', and everyone fights for the mike to get in the first blow. Great stoicism is needed at this point. Bursting into tears or foot stamping is considered bad form; instead we learn to nod solemnly, say 'Good point' (even if muttering under our breaths - 'pedantic toad'), and dutifully mark comments down in red ink. Fifteen, twenty minutes or an hour later... the writer staggers from the stage into the arms of the editor, clutching a bloodied draft, and a whole heap of new ideas to put into the activity sheet. By the time these activity sheets came together in our book, they were no longer an individual endeavor, nor even a sequinned double act, but a group act riding proud on a one-wheeled bicycle.
The beauty of it all was we saw the book forming before our eyes - artists, lay out, logistics and administration people, writers, and assorted nutters all charging around with a frenzied look in their eyes and clutching pieces of paper, artworks, pens, disks and tufts of hair. There were the odd times when someone charged off in a different direction, making a break for the border, sobbing gently. They didn't get far before they were dragged back by the campus tiger... and when they were shown second and third drafts, now cunningly illustrated and elegantly laid out, they cheered up. What greater pleasure can there be than to see the whole process, to no longer be alienated from the means of production?
And speaking of aliens...
After crashing into the coconut tree, the alien arrived here as a stranger in our midst - picked partly because it had the enviable ability to rise above gender, culture, nationality and class, so offending nobody, and partly because the best educators are those who look at things as though they've never seen them before - every day is a new planet. As The Alien With No Name gamefully tried out all our activities, its presence and personality grew until we began to wonder if we should put out an extra breakfast tray in the mornings.
And speaking of breakfast...
This is not a recipe book, but merely a selection of appetizers, or pulutan as we say in the Philippines - drawn from our actual experiences - to get your creative juices going. Extract, but don't forget to enrich with your own ideas. If you fall flat on your face when trying out any of these activities, do feel free to send us a rude letter, but don't give up; just drag yourself back off the floor. Creative training is about challenging the old power relationships - knocking the educator off their high wire to join the milling crowd below... and what better way to do this than for you - as an educator - to make a complete fool of yourself?
Send in the clowns.