(these may blur into each other or may be kept distinct)
in trio, A watches while B and C sit down to have a meaningful conversation for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes the three get together and discuss how the conversation went, how it felt, what alternative strategies could have been attempted. Then the partners cycle roles and repeat.
What is it to have a meaningful conversation? The explicit text or the subtext, what is moving around with or behind the conversation? What is the purpose of conversation? To say something, to process something, to reveal something, confront something, to amuse, to give an excuse to hang out convivially in each others’ presence? Is it better to use direct piercing questions or observations, random light starters, or just banter and see where it goes? Can you track the different levels of text and subtext happening during a conversation and return to past threads?
2 people talk, but one is in the role of interviewer, attempting to draw out statements, monologue, thoughts and reflections from the other.
Topics: anything on the grid (private life to public life, environmental context and relationships, kinesthetic experience and curiosity, emotional life, intellectual life, intuitive processes…). Reveal the hidden and/or contradictory. Take “out of balance” in the sense of create a pressure towards development or change by destabilizing that which is stuck (If it should be their, it will likely roll back).
As interviewee, collaborate on exposing yourself. As interviewer, it can be helpful to expose self somewhat to get at what you are looking for and to model the act of vulnerability
Always steer towards the personal… from “we” to “me” or “you”, from generality to specifics, from concept to action, from strategy to feelings and emotions. What is exciting, what makes you afraid, what makes you angry?
It is exciting if the conversation actually registers in body language… where the engagement is strong enough that the body is not held back by intellectual reserve.
In Hakomi and other forms of therapy, an interesting goal held is to get the client to run on an emotionally engaged developing monologue. Steer into emotional engagement, try to interrupt repetition, drawing partner off balance through questions and reflection.
As Interview, but with an intent to dialogue, build awareness together, synthesize
Interview with intent to affect physically/dialogue with the physical movement of partner
Here, you might not want the other to actually answer verbally but to reflect internally and perhaps explore physically, and you might actually explicitly invite physical answering rather than verbal, or you might just ask a question and explicitly not expect a verbal answer, pay attention to the physical to bring partner’s attention there and facilitate partner’s comfort with not answering verbally.
Suggest physical explorations for partner, guide and refine them, question them.
This is very much like Interview, where you ask “Tell me about X”, except you might say instead “Focus on the experience of Y and move into that sensation, refine and distill it. Drop away Z and focus on Y.”
Talk about self
… to another performer or to an audience member … about what you are doing now, about emotional life, about politics/environment. This can be a way to let someone see more clearly what you are doing, but it also might be a way for you to process yourself, bring different parts of your self to bear on your investigation.
Conversation about something else that is happening in the space. This may be done for audience and/or for the affect on the other who is overhearing it.
Group conversation driving towards recognition of complicity
Introduce yourselves to each other and have a conversation about some provocative topic. An example might be , “What do you think the world is going to be like in 20 years, what changes are going to happen, what will be your place in that world?” talk for 5 minutes.
After a 5 minute cue, steer the conversation in to the personal more. Talk about your feelings about how things will change, what you personally will do, are doing, are not doing. If there are problems identified, identify how you are personally participating in them. Identify your personal complicity and help others recognize their own. Take global issues to the personal, observations of what we should do to what you are doing. Take statements of a general “we” to “me” or “you”. Bring observations and speculations into the room, the immediate of who is there in the conversation.
After another 5 minute cue, steer the conversation to the meta-conversation of the conversation itself. What feelings come up for you having this discussion.
Note, this exercise came up after recognizing the tendency to deflect when talking about difficult issues like environment or politics. Even though this is what we came together to do, we still held resistance to getting Real. It became a powerful and provocative exercise in the Community Workshop for Body of Knowledge and became the first section of the piece for the Berkeley shows. The point is not to feel guilty or to cause feelings of dis empowerment and paralysis at overwhelming global issues that seem to dwarf us, although such feelings may arise. He point is to bring these conversations out of shadow so we can squarely face these issues rather than avoid them out of fear of paralysis. There is something on the other side of that fear, but it often needs to be addressed first.