"TICKLE YOUR FUNNY BONE"
It was a warm, sunny Saturday in July 2018, when we turned up for Castaways' "Tickle your Funnybone" drama workshop, hosted by the indomitable Paulette Lee of Creatrics. We were all a bit wary, but trying not to show it. We were a diverse group: out of the ten of us, one had spent a lifetime in drama, and another hadn’t even attempted to do a mime before.
We stood in a large circle and Paulette went through some basic exercises with us designed, I suspect, to allow her
to get to know the participants a little, whilst we took stock of each other – inhibited Brits being given
very few instructions and not knowing what the ‘rules’ are – always a good spectator sport. Learning
to use all the space around yourself, not just what is in front of you, is harder than you’d think.
Consequently, the initial laughter was of the embarrassed kind. After a while we loosened
up, inasmuch as any bunch of over-50s can let rip when most of them have medical
conditions and/or metal joints.
By lunch time it became clear that we were not here to learn how to be comedians.
Throughout the day we progressed to working in groups to make ‘living sculptures’,
‘metamorphosing objects’ as we passed them from one to another, and creating
‘working machines’ – imagine an arthritic game of Twister. We paused between each exercise
to take stock of how we had each reacted. There were some surprises – and it was those surprises
which created the humour.
It wasn’t for everyone - we lost two participants after the morning session, which was a shame, although those who stayed appeared to thoroughly enjoy the rest of the day. I think I speak for most of the group when I say that we would welcome another similar workshop – and one which wasn’t truncated in order to accommodate something called the World Cup.
Those of us who have had the misfortune to work in commercial environments where the management thought it necessary for us to bond with our colleagues will have undergone something similar to what we experienced in this workshop. They are designed to challenge our preconceptions, liberate our inhibitions, and forge better working relationships with colleagues. They are costly. And we had it all for 10 Euros, including lunch – albeit without the salad dressing (next time we’ll make sure that all four legs of the table are secure, before we move the table. It takes a lot of detergent and half the afternoon to clean a litre each of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar off the floor).
In a world of film downloads and mobile phone apps, it was refreshing to do something which simply involved interacting with other people.
What I came away with was some insights into myself which had nothing to do with drama or humour, a greater confidence in shaking off my inhibitions, and a feeling of comradeship with those who lived through it with me. This was not a workshop on how to be funny - it was a humorous workshop which empowered us to learn more about ourselves, and each other. And you can’t get an app on your phone for that.