Performance recorded at Vale Del Bravo, Mexico | by La Vaca Independiente & Presencing Institute
Social Presencing Theater (SPT) is an embodied social arts-based change methodology, developed under the leadership of Arawana Hayashi, for making visible current reality and exploring emerging future possibilities. Social Presencing Theater reveals the wisdom in every social system and supports movement towards healthier futures.
SPT can reveal insights for individuals, team, organizations, and larger social systems. It is one of the most important and effective methods developed by the Presencing Institute. The practices have been used for over fifteen years in business, government, and civil society settings, in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the United States. This is not “theater” in the conventional sense, but uses simple body postures, movements, and spatial design to dissolve limiting concepts, to communicate directly, to access intuition, and to make visible both current realities, and the deeper–often invisible–leverage points for creating profound change.
About Social Presencing Theater
SPT is a set of practices that synthesize embodied presence, movement theater, stillness, and dialogue. It is a Social Arts form that puts into action the creative potential of Theory U and presencing.
The word theater comes from the Greek thea, which means “a place for viewing.” Social Presencing Theater enables a team or community to collectively see and sense itself and to enact its emerging future. It is a creative process to enhance a client‘s capacity to see the whole system and to sense the qualities, patterns, and potential within the social relationships of a system.
To know more please watch the dialogue series below between Arawana and Otto on the origin of SPT.
Otto Scharmer says in a letter dated Dec 22, 2008, “The question comes up how to communicate the essence of these projects in a way that transforms and heightens the quality of collective awareness and action, which is why we have started to experiment with a new synthesis between theater, embodied presence, dialogue, stillness and presencing. It’s called Social Presencing Theater. Watch Arawana and Otto Scharmer speak on the origins of Social Presencing Theater on these videos.
Video credits: Aaron Lemle | Content & interviews: Arawana Hayashi, Ricardo Dutra, Adam Yukelson | Special thanks to: Valerie Janssens
20 Minute Dance
A mindfulness of body practice. It enhances the ability to synchronize body and mind by noticing the mind’s habit of wandering and supporting groundedness in the present.
This is the main technique of Social Presencing Theater. It is a process by which one experiences the essence of the U journey by moving from Sculpture 1 (current reality) to Sculpture 2 (emerging future).
4D mapping makes visible the current reality in a social system, such as a school system, and reveals how embodied sensing and knowing can lead to fresh outcomes.
This button will take you to the u-school website.
Note: Our SPT Faculty team is entitled to deliver programs at the u-school for Transformation by Presencing Institute and/or to deliver programs equivalent to u-school SPT Basics Programs. Official SPT Basics or equivalent are part of the u-school Certification Pathways that you can explore here.
“Social Presencing Theater: The Art of Making a True Move” is a journey into the origins, principles, and practices of an innovative social art form co-created by Arawana Hayashi and colleagues at the Presencing Institute. This embodiment practice deepens reflection and supports individual, team, organizational, and social transformation. Documenting the diverse influences, roots, and underlying principles of Social Presencing Theater (SPT), the book offers a wealth of stories, reflections, and hands-on guidance to SPT practices. In addition, the book contains practice instructions and stories highlighting the uses of Social Presencing Theater in companies, schools, and social projects.
The SPT Aesthetic Language Cards enables us to gain deeper insight into how we create a social fabric of relationships by the choices we make.
To describe our more subtle experiences, we need fresh language. This card deck offers 36 cards to guide conversations that deepen collective sense-making and support the application of embodied learning insights into everyday work and life situations.
Developed by Arawana Hayashi and Ricardo Dutra.
SPT in the field of education, it is a art-based method for principals, teachers and students to access sensations and learn through embodied practices. It fosters a “different kind of knowing”, that doesn’t focus on the mental processes but a physically integrated and collective understanding. It brings mindfulness and art into the school system. The video documentary below illustrates how SPT has been applied in several different high schools, in India, the USA and Norway and helped to solve social tensions and student disengagement through exploring collaborative trust, self-expression and collective systems awareness.
As an example, SPT was used as a method for decolonizing political movement building practices and strengthen the bonds between Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the United States and in South Africa. SPT was used to bring together diverse perspectives to generate fresh strategies for direct action, that are creative and healing for all.
Here’s as well the example of SPT being applied to the largest midwives’ association in Uruguay. Click on the button bellow to read the case study.
SPT can be introduced in the field of business for both systemic and personal growth work. In the article below, Otto Scharmer and Arawana describe how to develop your management skills through physical awareness. You can read the article by Editor-in-Chief Art Kleiner or watch the video about Eileen Fisher’s Case Study.
4D Mapping explores how the highest aspiration in a system might come forward. We assume there is an underlying wisdom – in spite of the diverse values or goals of stakeholders in a system – that could come to the surface and be visible, applying mindfulness of the body and awareness of the surrounding space. Here’s an example of an SPT performance about environmental sustainability.
SPT can be introduced in the field of social justice and in this specific example it was applied to groups of people with special developmental needs, their families, and support workers.
SPT arts-based method was used as a vehicle to include the voices of people with disabilities in a way that would deepen the collective sense of current reality for the people who work in this field. This created a reflective and creative space for fresh ideas and meaningful conversations to emerge, resulting in powerful changes for individual people, for their organizations and for the system in which they are working.
SPT can be applied in any group work, independently of the topic, using embodiment to get a sense of what is possible in a system.
SPT was part of a five-year Transformation in Performance initiative called Preparing the Personal Physician for Practice.
As part of the final reflection and evaluation process, the facilitators, and a small group of doctors, interns, and administrative staff created a short performance about their experience working on this innovative approach to physician training and learning.
This video shows the performance that was shared with an audience to initiate community conversations.
A two-day in person course that introduces participants to the SPT practices.
Deepens understanding of the practices and focuses on design and application of practices within specific contexts and settings. Workshops are available that focus on The Village practice using Aesthetic Language Cards.
Arawana, Manish Srivastava, Angela Baldini, and guest faculty offer a year-long training that includes individual mentoring and projects.
A SPT team offers 4-D Mapping (systems mapping) to clients either in person or remotely.
Image: Yucatan Peninsula | 2020
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