with Hugh Rose
During Radical Empathy – Stories that Change Hearts, we look specifically at the narratives churned out by politics and the media. These shape how we perceive ourselves and others, which in turn affects how we behave. The workshop aims to a) expose xenophobic, fear-based messages as fallacies, and b) harness storytelling as a way to replace them with a new story, one which celebrates difference and diversity rather than problematizes it.
We are constantly surrounded by stories. They pour out of our televisions, plaster our newspapers and fill the mouths of our leaders. But are these stories ones we want to subscribe to? Do these they represent us for who we, the human race, really are? The narrative of mainstream media and politics is one of fear and mistrust. We are consistently reminded of our differences and pitted against one another: Leave vs. Remain, Left vs. Right, East vs. West. In a country where negative new stories outweigh their positive counterparts by 17 to 1, is it any wonder that xenophobia and social division are seemingly on the rise? The deluge of negativity is relentless – it can be tempting to avoid it altogether, to shut ourselves away and ignore the problem. But maybe we don’t have to. Maybe we just have to replace it with something else. A new story.
Stories are powerful things – they aren’t just for entertainment – they shape our perceptions and beliefs, which in turn effects how we act. We know those who challenge the dominant narrative are important change-makers, because they’re always the first to be thrown behind bars by autocrats (this isn’t part of the workshop). This workshop will build on Stand Up Speak Out (though it will serve too as a stand alone session), this time focusing on imagination rather than autobiography. Our imagination is our most powerful tool for compassion: by putting ourselves in another’s shoes, we grow our capacity to connect with and understand that person. The more we imagine, the more we are free to love, and the less we are bound by fear. Through a series of imaginative games and explorations, we will explore the simple truths of being human, at the ties that bind irrespective of culture, geography race and gender. Because, for all our differences, it’s a small world after all. I have not been to any other workshops that offer quite what I believe these workshops offer, and hope they will contribute value to the Off Grid experience!
Hugh trained as an actor at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he learnt improvisation, physical theatre, group work, voice and public speaking amongst other disciplines. However, he left drama school with a strong sense of the vacuity of the commercial film and theatre industry, and has since focused on using theatre to bring people together and spread positive messages.
In this vein, he has written and directed a walkabout family pantomime entitled ‘Tom Ato & The Village Growing Pains’, led storytelling workshops in primary schools and home education groups, and told stories at spoken word events and in old people’s homes. Most recently he piloted a new workshop, ‘Storytelling for Change’, at Hamilton House in Bristol as part of Activate Bristol, an event comprising of a series of workshops and performances themed around the creation of a better, fairer world. He is a lover of words and people, and believes that telling stories can pave the way towards peace and unity.
He is part of the editorial and creative team for The Hedge – a magazine which aims to inspire people to reconnect with the seasons and form a closer relationship with land. An enthusiastic writer, his pen scrawls out musings on a variety of themes, from political satire to ecological activism to his inability to grow facial hair, which he has performed at a range of different gatherings and happenings.