Sensory theatre as a powerful non-formal learning


Poliksena Hardalova


Sensory theater techniques are excellent tools for intercultural learning and mutual understanding, and are therefore used in education programs for tolerance and in therapeutically oriented educational programs. In the sensorial performances, participants present their artistic creations, experiencing mutual acceptance, tolerance and appreciation of the diversity of the various expressions, cultures, sensibilities. Sensory theater facilitates the understanding that we create the reality we live in. From dreams and memories, each one (re) builds a world known and unknown. The closeness and affection that involves the experience of sensory theatre, consolidates a very strong perception that we are all equal, that we all belong to a common space that accommodates all differences, a world for all.
In a sensory performance, participants enter, sometimes in the dark, in a very welcoming world. Along the way, some "inhabitants" interact with the visitors, offering them a meaningfull experience and also an opportunity for reflection and introspection, connecting the exterior and interior of themselves. It’s an opportunity to make our perceptions and emotions more conscious. Many will recognize, in the experience of this journey, their memories and cultural references. Sensory theatre is an individual experience of each visitor, non-transmissible, which corresponds to the universe of their sensory memories. Each moment of encounter between the inhabitant and the visitor is unique and unrepeatable, diluting the traditional distinction between "actor" and "spectator", both participants in a common experience in interchangeable roles.
More than a representation, participants experience unrepeatable shared moments in time and space, brief but intense, a human relationship of love and trust capable of lasting and making us look with a new perspective, more positive and optimistic, to ourselves and others. Incredible and unusual relationships of trust with the other, the stranger, after all a friend we have not yet met, brings us a new sense of common belonging to Humanity.

AE2O - Escola de Segunda Oportunidade de Matosinhos
Sat Apr 13 2019 23:22:50 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Addressing Focus:
1 hour


1. Preparation of the group of “actors”
One group of young people, or trainers, or mixed, is trained to prepare and offer a sensory theatre performance to an audience.
The group of “actors” will go through a training that includes 1) creative exercises for sharing and trust, self-knowledge and self-expression and for meeting and connecting with the others; 2) activation of sensory memories and immersion in time and place. 3) exploring the context and preparing the space and the journey; creating a "character" to inhabit the place and interact with visitors;
2. The sensory performance
This performance is basically a sensory path that visitors will go through, sometimes in the dark (either during the night, either blindfolded).
The participants in the training will "inhabit" the space, building a deep relationship with the chosen space and with the other “actors” around, using mostly sensory perceptions - sounds, smells, textures, flavors, and also visual images (that however loose its usual supremacy over the other senses), offering the visitors a meaningful experience and also an opportunity for reflection and introspection, becoming more aware of their perceptions and emotions.
During the performance, each visitor goes through the path (individually or in groups) in the dark. Along the way, many will find their own memories and cultural references, provoked by the sensory artistic performances of the participants, using varied artistic expressions, according to their talents and interests- music, singing, objects, situations and "obstacles" to overcome, movements, dance, etc. The visitors will feel the smells, the wind, noise, cold, fear, and wonder.


The theater of the senses, presents strong characteristics of innovation in the field of non-formal education:
- a methodology that provides concrete instruments for sharing of life, dreams, difficulties and fears, in an environment of trust and sincerity that encourages personal unblocking through the activation of memories;
- provides a very diversified experience of perceptions and sensations anchored in the (re-) discovery and use of all the senses.
- it offers a relational environment of closeness and affection, stimulating behaviors of care and attention for the others, everybody feeling unconditionally accepted, reconciled with himself, the others and the world.
- a methodology that extends communication processes and languages to the diversity of the senses.
- the sensory performance allows each visitor to build their own journey, their own narrative within this mysterious, intimate place, which always challenges us to continue, to persist despite difficulties, fear and the unknown, finding and accepting help and Interaction with others.
- the experience of the sensory theatre often results in personal and life changes and is therefore of great use to young people and others at critical stages of their lives when it becomes necessary to make courageous decisions.
Sensory Theatre is an innovative approach that allows all participants to broaden the knowledge of themselves, performing not only an artistic experience but also a meaningful life experience. The artistic languages that are used are universal, and therefore welcome cultural diversity, facilitating dialogue between different ethnic, religious, social and cultural realities.


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