theater can be nonviolence too

Nonviolent communication is a model, a language, a view on communicating. In which you can get trained by reading books, following courses and exercising at home, at work or in exercise groups. How I like nvc best however is when it is moulded by its user into a personal shape. Integrated in daily life.  Richard Schut, in my experience, is a person who uses nvc in such a custom fit kind of way. He bumped into nvc, found it all very interesting and followed a course in Liège in Belgium by mister Marshall Rosenberg himself. Shortly after that training Richard organized an nvc event and ended up giving a training on ‘nvc and disappointment’ when it turned out there weren’t enough trainers.

I met Richard for the first time in 2012 somewhere near Bastogne, also in Belgium. He showed up out of nowhere on a summercamp for Loesje members and infected half the camp with an nvc fever. I remember I was blown away by this whole nvc thing. And I am not sure it was because of the potential of nvc itself or because of Richards magical style of telling and selling.

This summer I met Richard again in Berlin. Travelling between the Netherlands, Leipzig and Berlin, he spends some of his lifetime in the German capital. I don’t know how he would describe his own activities, in my view he walks a life path of magic and play. In August we met in Tempelhof park where we talked about his work as an interaction artist.

Richard is to be found on festivals, christmas markets and all kinds of cultural events with a big yellow question mark. This question mark is an open invitation to interact with him. A question mark, he says, has something defenceless. And, how I see it, it is the first step into the world of wonder and nonviolence that Richard creates as the some kind of actor he is.

When you dare to step into the adventure of interacting with Richard and his question mark, he takes you on a quest. A little trip through riddles, songs or challenges. The fun thing is you can choose your own adventure. Richard then might bring in an nvc meets aikido (self defence) exercise. And people might give it spontaneously through to one another on the festival. Or he might ask you what it is you wish for in life. Like the time a young man wished for a job and then found out he actually felt unhappy because he wants recognition and has a need for being valuable. And in that example Richard would have committed to an nvc style of empathic listening. In which listening for feelings and needs are essential.

Although these are the obvious nvc related quests, his whole act is drenched in nonviolence. It is somehow the power of playfulness and allowing oneself to be enchanted. On one of his quest assignments Richard brings in the character of a tiny gnome. This gnome needs to be put on the ground very carefully and to be followed and protected on a certain route. Everything on the slow pace of the gnomes miniature legs. All of a sudden people start focussing intensly on the ground while walking in the most mindful way just to be sure their gnome doesn’t get run over while walking his trail.  It must be what Richard calls: the power of moo!

Richard also makes theatre plays. During 48 hours theatre events he cocreates plays and drags in (parts of) the nvc proces: Observations. Feelings. Needs. Requests. How he does this exactly I do not know. I haven’t seen one of this theatre plays and still I would highly recommend them. Because yes, theater can be nonviolence too.

Enjoy more power of moo on Richards website.