..an interview Iwan Brioc, Artistic Director of Cynefin Sensory Labyrinth Community Theatre.
Imagine yourself beginning a journey into darkness. Your senses are hightened..your body on high alert, watching, noticing. Slowly you wend your way through a juxtaposition of smell, material and sound encountering and noticing yourself, and others who may come into your path.
I am describing the world of sensory labyrinths, the speciality of a community theatre organisation called Cynefin. Working within marginalised communities Iwan and his colleagues have found new ways to connect people to themselves, each other and their environment. Local artists are brought together to create large labyrinthian structures made with different materials that are meaningful within the community and environmental context. Then local members of the public are invited to enter and experience the labyrinth on their own terms, and in their own way.
What originally drew me to Iwan's organisation was a quest to find hybrid forms where people, community, and some sense of the 'transpersonal' form the core of the design and intention. You cannot engage with the labyrinth as a spectacle to be viewed at a distance, in fact the very design prevents distant disinterest. In order to engage, you need to physically enter. You have the opportunity to feel, smell and meet other people. And, while Iwan occasionally uses professional actors to engage with participants, they are there to assist, not distract participants from the mindful sense of the present moment.
Another element that sets them apart is that the emphasis on generating awareness and mindful attention, rather than imposing a 'story' or 'idea'. The story unfolds within the minds of the participants using the shell that he and his collaborators create.
Participants enter the space one at time engaging with the different sensory portals, including thought and feeling. They experience themselves, and their relationship to 'The Other' in whatever form that takes, soft architecture, colour, sounds, artefacts of different kinds.
People often start terrified (or at least very unnerved) but then this leads to curiosity..the interaction between fear of curiousity triggers a childlike state that opens up many other possibilities..
Cynefin funds itself through grants and commissions, assisting them to work in edge space contexts rather than more commercial environments. They facilitate transdisciplinary connections between local artists, the public and their local environment and for this reason I find their work extremely interesting. It has implications for community building, intercultural engagement, and a number of other areas. I encourage you to take a look at their site and watch here for future developments and interviews...
Visit Iwan and Cynefin at http://www.cynefin.org.uk/cynefin.htm