Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Silent Activity

Arts of Resistance Tags

For our silence activity, we decided to do a threater exercise which we believed would bring a deep sense of connection and bonding in a group. The exercise is done like this: Everyone gathers in a circle, and one person (Person A) begins by looking around the circle and locks eyes with another person (Person B). Person B, seeing the connection, says "Go." Then Person A walks across the circle, very slowly, toward them. Then Person B looks around for another person (Person C). After Person B and Person C lock eyes, Person C then says "Go", so Person A effectively takes Person B's spot in the circle, and Person B is walking toward Person C. This repeats. Eventually, the "Yes" becomes a nod, and then progressively, even the nod goes away and it is replaced with a silent, communicative gaze. Note that it's important that the person walking does so very slowly, so that the person they are walking toward does not feel pressured to start moving.

After a brief period of giggles and awkward smiles at one another, our group quickly got used to the activity. There was a moment about five minutes into it when we all visibly relaxed and focused on the vibrations spreading through us. There was trust and vulnerability there, and a closeness. For me, the moment of vulnerability and trust comes when you are searching for someone to lock eyes with-you reveal a weakness in that moment, but what is beautiful is that someone always comes forward to meet your gaze, never leaving you hanging. What is passed around can be seen in two ways: one, as a painful bundle of negative emotions (stress, sadness, fear) that, when you meet their eyes and they nod, someone is volunteering to take from you. Or it can be seen as a light, something joyous that you share with each other. Either way, you leave the activity feeling a collective intimacy.

It was especially interesting for Sula and me (Meera) because we had once done this same exercise with our acapella group. We're obviously close to them in a different way; we sang together and cried after doing the activity while our group was on a bonding tour. Our singing group is very intimate in so many ways. But this was different because in the classroom you are laid bare in a different, intellectual fashion. We are more guarded in the classroom, and this connective activity opened new doors in our bonding. We'd really like to do this activity again, but with Anne as well this time.