As everybody around the world we have been forced to find new ways of working due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020 the face-to-face workshop sessions had to be stopped, so right at the beginning of April we started to run the on-line classes with our integration group of adults. These meetings were then conducted with the use of Facebook Messenger (later substituted by ZOOM) till the end of June on a regular basis. From the very beginning of this new workshop experience most of the participants were facing technical problems and needed assistance in using the new communication tools. However, they learned how to cope with the new situation and did enjoy the experience. The participants were given theatrical tasks for their independent explorations and were presenting the results of their work to each other, next. This practice eventually led the group to the creation of a common puppet show titled “The Magic Violin”. The online premiere of this performance/film presentation took place on 24 June 2020 and gathered a dozen or so spectators, including representatives of our partners from Great Britain.

Despite the successful implementation of our on-line workshops, most of the participants very much wanted to continue the face-to-face classes. In the same time some people still were afraid of gathering in a bigger group. This is why we decided to use an experimental “hybrid” way of running the theatrical sessions which started at the end of September. Who wants to meet face-to-face can come to our headquarters once a week, where one leader welcomes the participants. The second trainer is present on a big screen, conducting the workshops from home and also everybody who prefers to stay at home can join the session virtually. Such a solution proved to be efficient, even though it is not the easiest one, due to some technical problems and lack of direct interpersonal contacts between all the participating persons. Still, the first artistic results have been already achieved. We wanted to draw participants` attention to the international aspect of our cultural projects, so it was proposed to first create simple “flat” cardboard puppets representing letters which compose the names of individual partner countries. A few nice puppet heroes have been created and we started to animate them focusing on interactions which result from differences between characters. We are planning to further use these figures as shadow puppets, too.

Even though the technology and new collaboration and communication media help a lot, we all feel that THEATRE is about sharing the same physical space first of all…