3rd Hellenic Psychodrama Summer Academy (1st-6th of August 2019, Kolympari, Crete)
At the airport in Athens, on my way back to Zagreb from Crete, I was literally swept off the floor like a breadcrumb (a somewhat large breadcrumb) by the airport personnel. A slightly annoyed person, gently pushing my feet with a dust mop, talked at me in Greek while pointing towards the benches. I prepared myself well for spending the night at the airport in-between two flights: I was lying on a self-inflating mattress that I brought with me, and I was perfectly comfortable where I was. I didn’t want to take up space on the benches, in case there was someone less proficiently equipped for the occasion of sleeping at the airport. Not to mention that floors are very reasonable places to be sleeping on, as you can’t fall off them. There was, however, no space or language for negotiation with the person holding the dust mop. I understood she has to do her job, and I was getting in the way.
On that same day, tucked up in my bed in Zagreb, I got an e-mail from Iva with an audio file attached. The subject of the e-mail said: to help you fall asleep. Iva sent Lada and me recorded sounds from our rooms at the Orthodox Academy: the sea, the wind, the crickets. In my memory, the crickets were much louder, and so was the sea. It made me wonder about other senses, like taste or touch, and the ways of preserving them, archiving them, the way we do with photographs. The only albums of touch and taste we have are those that we try to preserve in our memories. And the only way to archive them outside of ourselves is by writing about them, by telling a story, a story made of sensorial bits and pieces, fragments of experiences pinned together.
You see, Stylianos Lagarakis and the team in charge of organising Hellenic Psychodrama Summer Academy are very wise. They recognise, acknowledge and give space to how deeply our everyday (sensorial) experiences are entwined with the work of psychodrama. A conversation around a meal made of cheese, black olives and the reddest red tomatoes in the world might feed into the workshop called The Dictatorship of Love Relationships (Gabriela Moita and Michael A. Wieser). Back pain can bleed into The Pains We Suffered (Wang Jing with Ma Dongfang). Motion sickness on the bus trying to navigate the hairpin turns from northern to souther shore of Crete on our way to and from to the beach might trigger some long forgotten childhood memories and provide for an unexpected moment of healing, which will then, in return, shine a new light on our experiences in the workshop such as Of Love and Other Demons (Tatiana Kryukova). A dream of another, told over traditional Cretan music, might prompt one’s own own desire to dream in Do Androids Dream about Electric Sheep? (Horatiu Nil Albini) and deeply held political beliefs that you seem almost physically attached to might get stirred in large sociodrama workshop (Iafi Shpirer).
I am very new to psychodrama. Prior to my arrival to Crete, I have only attended two one day psychodrama workshops. I am a theatre scholar working at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb, and my PhD has nothing to do with psychotherapy. My formal education in psychotherapy began only a year and a half ago when I started my education in group analysis at the Institute of Group Analysis in Zagreb. Yet I felt very welcomed to Kolympari Summer Academy, among people who have been doing, teaching, practicing, working with psychodrama for years and years. Because in some ways, however long you have been doing whatever it is you have been doing, and whatever patterns you have adopted that give direction to your affects and behaviour, you are always new to the future of your life. And you are always new to whom you might meet or to what you might experience, because just like in theatre, everything always happens only once, even when it is repeated, and there are no two identical live performances.
For me, the key word and feeling of this summer academy was hollistic, as it describes the way things are deeply entwined and connected: crickets, love, wind, friendship, olive oil, family, anger, frustration and fried zucchinis. And sure, you might say that it happens all the time, but in a way this Academy in Kolympari is designed with a special emphasis, time, space and thoughtfulness for precisely this idea and this feeling.
And even when we seemingly weren’t working but only (only?) living, we were working hard, and the work of psychodrama was working on us and for us.