Archive for the ‘Teaching & Facilitating’ Category

Walking in the space

July 24th, 2015 No comments

Student Me walks in the space.
Teacher Me walks in the space.
Teacher Me invites others into a state of pretending.

Teacher Me is blamed for others’ choices to feel.
Student Me is invisible.
Student Me apologizes for suffering created by others.

Teacher Me feels sad walking back into the space.
Student Me seeks compassion in dark places.
Teacher Me allows Student Me to get lost.

Student Me walks in the space.
Teacher Me observes the walk.
Student Me becomes the space.

Towbug packed and stacked

April 18th, 2011 No comments

Here’s a picture of what I got to unload this morning at 7:00am, in a rural part of Surrey, B.C.

We helped approximately 180 students at Hargrove Elementary practice safe cycling!  It was my second time assisting with the Bikewise course by Lifecycle.

Getting there was the most difficult part with a rise at 4am.  Once we start interacting with the students however, the long cold journey seems worth it.

Why Theatre? Revisited, II of II

February 25th, 2011 No comments

I’ve explored corners of an emerging field (applied theatre/drama) that in highschool, one couldn’t even imagine would exist. That is just three years before I would be a student of it.  Like pioneers to a new land, it has been an arduous process of studying and cultivating the rugged terrain as an applied theatre practitioner.  A process probably made more difficult by my stubbornness, insecurities and expectations (a.k.a. impatience); all very limiting to a process of cultivating a creative style, learning to teach while honouring my own unique voice amongst the expert opinions.  This privileged challenge of navigating unchartered career waters has been made possible by my having participated in drama, acting, musical theatre, recreational dance, and music/band classes in my teen years, when forming a sense of self is the only thing that is of any true significance.

The arts activities that engage and develop the right-brained abilities such as harmony, aesthetic, metaphor, story, and design, are traditionally considered to be fringe benefits in the schools referred to, in this cleverly animated talk.  Now, we are in the dawn of an era that demands more of the right-brain aptitudes, demonstrated in the highest grossing industries such as culinary arts, cosmetics and fashion, but mostly by the degree of problem-solving our world requires for our survival!  I agree that the ARTS professions, and therefore our civilizations, have not been served by the industrial era’s school system in a manner that is sustainable.  Seems obvious now that we also recognize that the industrialization of production and consumption are no longer sustainable.  I feel so passionate about opening up the creative channels in our schools and workplaces that I could probably obsess about it for years to come!  So for the sake of getting through this blog post, I’ll curb my enthusiasm here to introduce you to the third inspiring video of my day that re-affirms why I choose theatre and dramatic arts over and over, wherever I end up, doing whatever it is I do.

Sir Ken Robinson, a visionary on education and creativity follows his 2006 TED talk with this witty talk about a learning revolution; the waves of which, led me to study drama therapy at New York University in 1999.

What Sir Robinson refers to is a revolution that has been a few decades already underway, beginning with a few enlightened masters; their efforts often ignored, resisted and belittled by many.  The movement to change how we teach children persists in as many ways as are needed to serve the diversity of the many ways that humans learn.  I hope you enjoyed these videos as much as I have enjoyed reflecting upon them and posting here.

A deeply heartfelt-appreciating hug to all my teachers who inspired me to question, seek, express and grow!  And thanks for visiting my online playground!

Why Theatre? Revisited, I of II

February 1st, 2011 No comments

Today, through my facebook news feed, the question was posted, “Why do theatre?”  To people who have yet to experience the joy of analyzing the great many benefits for human development and cognition that theatre offers, I can appreciate that the answer to that question is not obvious.  At a time when much of the world is habitually turning to screens of all sizes for their information and communication needs for convenience, novelty or cost-effectiveness, it seems far easier to list reasons of why not to do theatre.

Theatre, in the most common of professional forms, is costly to produce, promote and limited for reproducing beyond the run of live shows, thereby limited for potential revenue.  And so came film.  I get it.  Why, indeed?  Sometimes, I am persuaded to focus on other forms of “work” by their mere practicality in the current economic climate.  Then comes along a day like today when I come across this question, “Why Theatre?”, followed by lunch with a friend and three different, but related videos.  The first one below started my morning after breakfast; posted by a theatre colleague, it had me laughing out loud!

Can you relate?  I could!   And not because I identify as having a disorder or being of the elderly demographic, but because in particular states of mind, I have experienced this unstoppable stream of linked, but seemingly disorganized thoughts and impulses that I act upon, taking me from one incomplete task to start another activity that is interrupted by a thought which brings me into another frame of focus, and so on.  Sometimes, I do return back to my initial activity, but it is highly problematic for productivity in the workforce, when I don’t.  And it seems that many many people, often creatives and innovators are often misplaced, misunderstood and highly undervalued in most workplaces and schools.  What is interesting is that others who have shared a similar experience also exhibit a great tendency – nay, an insuppressible drive for artistic expression that is as strong as the “ADD” behaviour.   Perhaps they are connected to, or inform each other.   I’m not of the opinion, however, that they are exclusive to each other, nor do I buy the claim that there is an epidemic.  If you keep reading and watch the second video in this post, you may further understand why I go on to say here that it is the larger societal structures ie. schools, laws, medicine, that are not evolving, or tranforming, at a rate which supports the human response to what is current and true.

After watching that video in the morning, I spent most of the afternoon becoming re-acquainted with a friend who is on her way towards a medical residency in plastic surgery. We had a delicious meal of Peruvian and South American delights at El Inka Latin Deli in Burnaby.   She shared her stories of a new romance and I, my recurring considerations on taking up filmmaking courses. With the fear of abandoning the riches of my formal training in applied drama and theatre, despite little monetary riches to show for it, I have been reluctant to pursue any further training that diverges from the applied theatre path.

Insightfully, Brandi points out that documentary filmmaking, the genre to which I currently feel drawn, would be bringing together all the previous training I’ve had and incorporate other pleasures of researching, writing, and collaborating with a diversity of people.  I go home with a very satisfied tummy and a full head of questions: Maybe I can still practice theatre and develop my film-making skills in a parallel and complimentary way?  It’s another art form, can I pay the bills with it?  Is it the accessibility of the medium that is my block, or my own internal maze of questions that lead to inaction?  Perhaps what my artistic voice is trying to manifest is a hybrid of these mediums.  Hybridity.  It’s how I’m made! No surprise I would fuse play with work, live performance with digital.  And my friends often check-in with the curious, “Janice, what are you up to now?” It seems adventurous, I suppose, to the observer, but it has largely been frustrating because it’s taken me yeeears, a full decade after finishing 7 years of higher education, to realize the fuller scope of my heart’s desires.  What did I expect?  Well, I’m impatient.

A week of Smukler

February 16th, 2008 No comments

Aaaahhhh. MMMmmmm…Ma Ma Ma Ma….Hhhhhhh. These are the sounds that filled my evenings this past week. Each night after a full day of sitting at a desk, it was so satisfying to relax into breathing and sighing with other actors, artists, and teachers. Since I took the voice intensive almost 2 years ago in 2006, I return annually to David Smukler’s tune-ups. We work with shakespeare text and his technique, originating from Kristin Linklater, is incredibly powerful and precise. It really an experience that opens the voice in a way that is transforming.

I’m so grateful for having learned of the National Voice Intensive and of David Smukler. My voice is more resonant and present than it was 5 days ago and I’ve gained a deeper wisdom about my body and how it contains emotions and thoughts. An extraordinary journey for any actor, teacher…human.

Actors teaching Bankers

May 2nd, 2007 No comments

Today and tomorrow I will get to role-play as a Scotiabank investment client with financial advisors who want to practice their conversation skills.  I do this with Focus Management Group, a company started by Peter Gardner-Harding in Toronto and now works all over North America.  I’m really grateful for this work because it creates an awareness for both professions of the teaching potential that conversations can have if we are open to learning from them.  It is also wonderfully affirming of my belief in the power of applied theatre for illuminating our world.

From theses sessions, the actors have often walked away with a bit more knowledge about financial management and bankers appreciate the gift of the actor’s contribution to their learning in a new way than conventionally done on tv, film or stage.

Freedom Writers

April 17th, 2007 No comments

Based on true events of a highschool teacher and her students, this movie moved me.  It brought me back to my time with the “at risk” teens in New York City when I worked at The Door.  My position was of Senior Counselor for the S.O.S program, the Second Opportunity School for students who were to serve 1 year Board of Education suspensions in the new program.  I was among four counselors who developed and implemented counselling sessions that would support the development of the youth along side their special classrooms.  None of them wanted to be there at first and I didn’t blame them. 

Watching Freedom Writers got me wondering about the students I had developed relationships with almost 5 years ago.  I wonder if any of them graduated and what they went on to doing afterwards.  It’s an amazing honour to be a guide in a child’s life and an equally enourmous responsibility. 

Yesterday, I was scheduled to attend an general audition for a theatre company.  I had about 2.5 weeks to prepare for it and as the days went by, I acknowledged that I should be choosing monologues and memorizing but when it came to the actions I chose, I chose to put my energy towards other things.  I chose to spend time designing clothes, I chose to read and write, I chose to put time into “Learning out of Bounds”, and I thought more about how I can develop my work as a facilitator of learning and growth.  And I look at the number of entries on my blog under performing arts (3) and compare that to the number of entries under ‘teaching & facilitating’ (12) and I can’t help but feel that I seem to be more drawn towards education than I am to acting. 

I have for many years felt anxious about having to choose between being a teacher or being an artist.  I don’t feel so much angst anymore because I know that each one is part of the other in a very integral way.  Right now, I’m feeling pretty motivated to get into a classroom.  And this time it isn’t about what is practical or safe or convenient.  Many people think that those who can’t do, teach.  Actually, I think the conventional school system is a very scary place to be both for teachers and students, and I don’t think public education is practical.  To take up a teacher’s job structure is not as convenient as the flexibility of a freelance consultant.  Perhaps for the first time, I’m acknowledging that I do have a passion for education and for the arts.  When I choose to perform it is because I believe in giving voice to the story that will be told, and when I choose to teach it is an answer to a calling that I think I’ve had for a long time.  I think I’m getting prepared to listen now.

I hope I there will be opportunity for me to practice drama therapy in a way that is fun and fulfilling.  I hope I can do for myself what it is I try to do for others.  I hope I can keep up.

Website for “LOOB”

April 15th, 2007 No comments

Learning Out of Bounds now has an official website.  We are still looking for someone with skills to put up more information; right now it’s just one page of our flyer. 

I really admire Darcy’s energy and calm leadership in assembling all of us together for this day.  For my own table, I would like to share it with other independent consultants who are trained in the methods of Expressive Arts therapies.  The expressive arts are incredibly empowering processes to engage in for children and adults and I’m looking forward to connecting and creating a community of people committed to actualizing and expanding human potential.

Learning Out of Bounds is looking for sponsorship to cover venue and promotional costs, and we are also keen to enlist a few helping hands for the event day.  Volunteering can be done for any portion of the event, including preparation or closing.

What is exciting about this for me are the possibilities that it presents for creating awareness for applying creative arts in schools, community centres, healthcare and businesses. 


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Date change for “Learning Out of Bounds”

April 4th, 2007 1 comment

A community fair for innovative educators and families interested in diverse educational options for children will be held on Sunday, May 6th, 2007 from 11:00am – 4:00pm at the Britannia Community Centre, East Vancouver (off Commercial Drive).  We were going to have it in the solarium of the public library but it was already booked and Darcy needed to have this event up and done by May 10th.  Luckily she postponed it until May, because that opened up more time to get prepared for it.  I’m in the process now of supporting her with planning, design and recruiting professional innovative educators to be participating presenters.  Participants may have an information table for their organization and/or be a speaker on a panel of educators to discuss matters of educational options in Vancouver, why they are important and their credibility as alternatives to the conventional school system. 

I hear there is a website begun for it too and the link for that will be forthcoming.


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Learning Out Of Bounds

March 21st, 2007 No comments

A community event called Learning Out of Bounds will take place on Saturday, May 5, 2007.  I am helping to organize it and I will also be at a table to represent my own services as an educational consultant and drama therapist.  A friend and fellow UVic Alumni, Darcy Kaltio of the Wondertree Learning Centre is leading this project as part of her leadership program with Landmark Education.  The purpose of the event is to have various educational options represented at tables like an open house for the community of “alternative” education in Vancouver.  Darcy invited me to be part of it because she knows my background as a drama/theatre educator and drama therapist.  We are interested in having other creative arts therapists and innovative educators involved to be presenters.  Learning Out Of Bounds will be of interest to parents who are wondering about the alternatives to public education, and leaders who are interested in connecting with like-minded innovative professionals.  If you or someone you know may have an interest in helping with the event preparations (media communications, website/graphics development, venue sponsorship, printers, set-up, postering) we can use all the help we can get.  There is no budget so we’re going to have to be resourceful and hopefully pull-out really inspired people from within our vast network.  Also, feel free to spread the word to families and professionals who are interested in education, both in the current state of public institutions and the development of new ones.  It’s all about realising POSSIBILITY

There is quite a lot to be done leading up to this date, both for the event as a whole to go up and for me to be present.  All things progressing as they are, I’ll be finishing up physiotherapy treatments in Victoria next week.  (sniffle, sniffle)

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