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The cold has gradually tightened its grip on Hungary since I started my EVS (European Voluntary Service) project here in September – up until what seems to be the frosty but beautiful climax that is the current period of ice and snow – but our community theatre has been bustling with creative fire nevertheless in the last few months.

First of all, many new groups have been added to our weekly schedule since November, among them a group for adults with learning difficulties and a group in a nursery school. These two have two interesting things in common: the first is that no one person in them or amongst their staff speaks English, which makes me have to try very hard at practicing my Hungarian! (Fortunately I learn it as part of the project). The second thing common to both groups in many cases is the activities – you may be surprised to know that I often use the same games with the adults with special needs and the younger groups of children. I think it’s because they are truly open to anything (if you have worked with people with learning difficulties before you would know this wonderful quality that can be discovered about them). One can say that as result of this they are more in touch with their imagination than other adults going about their adult life with a decent degree of seriousness… and so, similarly to younger children, these people cooperate very well with simple exercises which are about describing what you see from a hot air balloon, for example, or driving a submarine all together through the room.

Second of all, we had quite a few very special events at the theatre in the last few months. For the children’s half term holiday from school at the end of October, which happened to be in the week preceding All Saints Day, we organised special holiday workshops – every day a different activity took place at the theatre: creating decorations (and smothering a good amount of paint on chairs – which definitely added some colour to our staff room, as well as to our floor); Circus Day: a full day of workshops on hula hooping, juggling and clowning (which are each of special interest to one of the staff members who organised the day, me being the “clown person”); elaborate mask making from paper mache (which we made straight on our faces. It was rather spooky to see – about 50 mummies in one room); and the culmination of the week – a Halloween Parade around town with the masks we made and the presentation of short performances devised  by the children alone for the occasion. Along with all the physical mess (that was only expected to happen), the week was a big success. We received some very appreciative feedback from children and parents which made us very proud.

Third of all, our awesome Circus Show: myself and my colleagues had created a short performance for the Circus Day, combining our circus skills. We later received an invitation from a local secondary school to perform it again for them in early December. For this purpose we gathered all the five of us at the theatre’s team to create an extended version for older children. We put a lot into the process, planning some scenes together and some separately; in my opinion it came out to be an extremely cool show demonstrating our individual unique abilities as well as the potency of collaboration. The separate scenes were connected at the end in a crazy slapstick chase as result of (well-planned) mix-up and confusion: an angry clown was chasing the hula hooper chasing the circus master chasing the trumpet player responsible for all the fuss chasing his naughty friend chasing the clown…

Finally, a few days later, towards mid December, we presented our end-of-term performances to the parents of all the children attending classes at the theatre. Each of the six groups had devised a show with its teacher, summarising the learning process it has gone through during the term. I devised two shows with my two groups; the younger children (ages 4-7) went on an imaginary mimed journey into the bottom of the earth, and the group of 10 year-olds presented a magical winter tale which was a metaphor for finding our inner fire during long days of darkness and cold.

With every month passing in my ten month-long EVS project, I feel much older and wiser… I only realise there is more and more to learn as things develop and change. The longer I spend with my groups, the better I can understand them: how to best approach them; how to ignite their creativity; how to work on improving relationships within them. My confidence in planning the activities as well in improvising them on the spot according to changing needs grows. Sometimes I have found it a real challenge searching for new ideas, but I’ve learned that a holiday does well to the creative mind – and I’ve returned from my mid-winter one a lot fresher, and thus more open towards my own creativity.

I’m now working on a short mime piece of my own that would be presented to audience at the theatre in late February. Watch this space…


Roni M, EVS (European Voluntary Service) volunteer


European Voluntary Service (EVS) project  supported by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission.

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