#ENGLISHFRIENDLY From 19 to 21 February 2020 Symposium 9 LIVES took part in Olomouc. This gathering of people working in performative arts field from the Visegrad 4 and other eastern countries like Latvia or Estonia was called to discuss our values, directions and of course to connect. The unexceptionable benefit to this symposium was the location at the K3 theatre that belongs to Palacký University, that enabled more theoreticians and younger students to be part of the discussion and to enrich it with other discourses.

The symposium started on Wednesday evening with a lecture performance from Erik Sikora and continued for the next two days with three discussing panels and 3 other lecture performances from following Visegrad countries. Each of them in its way connected to their country. For example, Pina Brutal shared her challenging life in Budapest and subsequent escape to Berlin where she worked in a strip club through her naked body and pole dace show. Wojtek Ziemlski represented Poland in a less personal way but aimed at our nose with hand out perfumes containing certain smells occurring in his country. Again, completely different experience was Jan Mocek giving us a taste of a typical Czech performance metaphorically cooked in a pot from real ingredients representing our country. Each artist was formed by his homeland, so it was unavoidable they reveal some differences and specifics in the way of thinking and structuring the art. Those three days ended with a short pitch from a newborn lecture-performance that connects polish and Hungarian artists and with an overviewing discussion.

The three discussing panels were about Love, War and Nature each with four to five guests who shared their approach to the topics. Every panel had a different vibe and offered sharing ideas from remote areas of life. In the Love panel, the guests shared their personal stories and how they, in the place where they were in life experienced love. This topic created a lot of warmth within the meeting and created an open space that enabled people to share very sensitive thoughts and to feel the humanity of the event right at the beginning. Together with other guests, Sodja Lotker, the leader of this panel asked - what is all can you love? It is objects, animals, people, chairs of Viktor Černický...

Love. How can you love someone? How can you spread love? You cannot even think about spreading love if you don't feel enough for yourself. You cannot listen and understand the point of view of someone else, if you don't listen to yours first. How could you sense that there is something false or something that you don't agree with if you don't listen to your own heart. You can debate, you can argue but unless the thoughts come from your heart they are just some pointless constructions from some learnt patterns, that don't make you feel the reality. And since the reality comes from your heart, it makes you feel good. That is the thought with which I left the room - that you should in every way do things that make your heart feel good. Don't try to convince yourself and your heart that something that doesn't feel right is actually good for you because then you are just betraying yourself. And for what? It feels pointless to me to name the reasons why we are betraying ourselves. And from that beautiful point of loving ourselves we can start loving others and where there is a problem, when we feel like closing up, we should not force ourselves to feel the love towards others, because it has no roots to grow from.

The next panels took us down on earth, which was desirable after the previous discussion. It was, among other things, thanks to doctor Martin Bernátek, a contemporaty theatre expert at the University of Palacký, who was not satisfied with the debates so far. He was calling for precise opinions and academically beneficial debates. Even though a lot of artists did not share his vision, he made them oppose him and explain the positives of the informal sharing of their life insights. The issue but also the benefit was that it opened the door to other attitudes, that were suppressed so far. The more participants in the debate, the harder it was to stick to one thought and develop it. Due to the time pressure we did not come to any bigger conclusions, however the participants continued with developing their thoughts in smaller circles in café Nacucky.

I had this strong sensation when I heard Bára Liška speaking that what she was saying was so structured and represented her way of thinking and living. It was so fascinating how complex thoughts and mind are. And this original personality and complexity of emotions, thoughts and a way of being was within each member of the circle. And I thought how wonderful it was that there were so many originals. That the more people, the more originals and the more perspectives on life we have and suddenly I felt important, as if my life was so good and satisfying the way it was because I didn't have to be everything, I didn't have to know all the perspectives and discourses. I don't have to be super mature and realistic, I don't have to force myself to be more materialistic if I don't feel it, I can develop what I am feeling right now and someone other can take me back to the ground from his different point of view. And so it is important to connect with the people with different points of being. Because then you don't have to be everything, you just can be your own small little piece.

I believe that sharing our experiences across the different bubbles and getting to know the other ones can enrich us enormously, and it surely did during this symposium. Three days is a pretty short time to develop something, so the symposium did not lead to strong conclusions but opened questions and also gave space to express opinions and confront them. A lot people with the same interest met there and had space to connect. Sharing our thoughts makes us grow and unifies us as Eastern Europe, another bubble that will be more confident to share itself with the world.

Nikola Šroubková