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Moving the Silence

A dialogue between art and spirituality
Moving the Silence. Un dialogo tra l’arte e la spiritualità
Gabriele Goria
p. 66-77


Questo articolo illustra la ricerca artistica sul silenzio che ho condotto durante i due anni del Master in Teatro Pedagogia che ho seguito presso la University of the Arts-Theatre Academy of Helsinki (2011-2013). Metto a fuoco in particolare il processo creativo che mi ha portato verso la produzione di una performance costruita in quattro mesi di lavoro senza l’uso della parola: Moving the Silence. Il silenzio si è rivelato essere un terreno fertile per un dialogo tra arte e spiritualità, diventando una piattaforma generativa per lo sviluppo di metodi meditativi di lavoro nel campo dell’arte. Moving the Silence ha avuto la sua prima rappresentazione nel febbraio 2013. Le conclusioni illustrano brevemente gli sviluppi futuri della mia ricerca, che attualmente si occupa della sfida di integrare pratiche meditative, artistiche e ascetiche all’interno dei ritmi di una normale vita lavorativa e familiare: Hermits in Progress Project.

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Testo integrale

  • 1 Thomas Merton, The Silent Life, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 1957.

Not all men are called to be hermits,
but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives
to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self
to be heard at least occasionally.
Thomas Merton1

1I am an actor and theatre pedagogue specialized in oriental psycho-physical disciplines. My current interest is to explore and develop meditative ways of working in the field of art.

2This article will illustrate the artistic research on silence I have conducted throughout the two years of my Master’s degree programme in Theatre Pedagogy at the University of Arts-Theatre Academy of Helsinki (2011-2013). In particular I will focus on the creative process which led me towards the production of a performance built throughout a four-month-work without use of speech: Moving the Silence.

3I will conclude by briefly illustrating the future developments of my research, which is currently dealing with the challenge of integrating meditative, artistic and ascetic practices within the rhythm of an average working and family-life: Hermits in Progress.


4The choice of silence as a topic of my artistic research is not a matter of chance.

5I was born in a multi-religious family: grandparents Catholic and parents followers of Paramahansa Yogananda (the first great Indian master who spent most of his life in the West, author of the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship). As bilingual children naturally accept and learn two different languages as though they were one, I grew up with the Christian Gospel in one hand and the Hindu Bhagavadgita in the other. In the Catholic Church I was baptized with the name Gabriele, which means «the army of God», and in the Self-Realization Fellowship I received a second baptism with the name Shanti Deva: «divinity of peace». «War» and «peace»: this was the first symbolic contradiction of my life. As soon as I began to develop critical thinking, I started to notice differences between the two religious beliefs, and to question which one was the best, which one was my own, or should I abandon both and live without. At the age of nine I met my first master of traditional oriental martial arts: my thirst for spirituality awakened in a new perspective, and I became familiar with the concept of dynamic meditation too. Later I met the theatre, which opened me to the horizon of self-expression.

6During the teenage period, I felt the urge to choose one path and at the same time the impossibility of doing it. I began a painful internal struggle to decide which discipline I should sacrifice. I was captured by the trap of rationalism and logic: the opposites exclude each other, they cannot live together. I proceeded very slowly, with frustration, discouragement, anger.

7When I graduated from Theatre Academy (Roma, 2001), I started to mix my competences together, developing combinations of theatre and martial arts, experiencing art’s potentialities in relation with particular areas of spirituality, such as Eastern meditation, Christian prayer and personal dialogue with the holy scriptures.

8And finally, thanks to a series of encounters, the practice of silence entered into my daily life. It helped me to face my own inner reality: it gradually became the ground where different aspects of my life could find a connection. I realized that there was a very concrete link between all my passions, a place where everything could live together in peace at the same time: myself. I began questioning what kind of silence that was. I realized that the direct responsibility for my internal change lay not with silence itself, but with my attitude towards it. I was no longer passive, I was tasting silence with a constant effort to remain alert, awakened, opened and focused. I was walking on the path of active silence and I felt the urge to share my experience with other people.

  • 2 Giuseppe Barbiero, Alice Benessia, Elsa Bianco, Elena Camino, Maria Ferrando, Dinajara Doju Freire, (...)

9The Italian biologist Giuseppe Barbiero suggests a distinction between passive and active silence.2

10Passive silence is externally imposed. Mind is like an empty container which needs to be continuously filled with new impulses. Attention is captured by means of increasingly entertaining and distracting stimulations.

11Active silence, in contrast, is an act of commitment which comes from within and opens the attention to a new dimension, making the action, physical or intellectual, fluid and effective: the mind is full of awareness. Active silence forms the capacity of attention, by giving time for waiting, listening and elaborating.

12I have found an interesting parallel to Barbiero’s scientific view about passive and active silence in the mystical expression of Thomas Merton:

  • 3 Thomas Merton, Creative Silence, «The Baptist Student», 48, 5, Southern Baptist Theological Seminar (...)

Silence has many dimensions. It can be a regression and an escape, a loss of self, or it can be presence, awareness, unification, self-discovery. Negative silence blurs and confuses our identity, and we lapse into daydreams or diffuse anxieties. Positive silence pulls us together and makes us realize who we are, who we might be, and the distance between these two.3

13In March 2012 I led a one-day workshop with the title Living the Silence in seven different environments (among them: a school, two monasteries and a Theatre Academy), where I explored many possible combinations of art and meditation, making use of analogic drawing, Ch’i Kung (Chinese breathing techniques developing inner energy), T’ai Chi Ch’üan (the Supreme Polarity -boxing), Orazio Costa mimic method (an Italian method of body expressivity), writing and reading exercises, in order to understand how the participants experienced silence. I collected their own written feedbacks, which became the main material of my analysis.

14The experience of the Living the Silence-workshop reinforced my conviction that many artistic disciplines may be included in the practice of active silence, since they offer same conditions, facilitating processes of self-awareness. I believe that a parallel practice of meditation and art may produce empowering creative interactions.

Moving the Silence

15In September 2012, the dance-pedagogue Eerika Arposalo and I started a research on the uses of silence in arts-teaching and on spiritual dialogue in relationship with arts.

16Together with the University-Chaplain Rev. Henri Järvinen, we organized a two-week-workshop, where we explored several meditation-techniques, expressive movement and dance. Furthermore, we made use of Ikebana (the Japanese art of arranging flowers) and T’ai Chi-techniques. An exceptional characteristic of the workshop was that, after a brief introductory explanation, work proceeded in silence.

17The working team developed the project into a performance, Moving the Silence, by deepening different methods of analysis and use of silence. Main purpose of the research was to look for meditative approaches to arts and on the other hand to maintain a creative attitude towards meditation-practice. The working method reminded silence-retreats: each rehearsal began with one-hour-meditation and continued in silence, including pauses and lunch-breaks. The same method was applied later on during performances.

18One question I have heard often is: how could you create and direct a performance without saying a single word? Of course, we had to develop a strategy: rehearsals followed the same structure every day. They become like a ritual, composed by moments of meditation, teaching and free explorations. But the most interesting surprise has been that silence allowed me to give up with my role of director: the more I put myself apart, the more the inner teacher of each performer awakened. The structure of our rehearsals changed gradually and evolved into a complex interactive game, where meditation and improvisation were affecting each other. I am not exaggerating by affirming that the performance generated by itself.

19An interesting example is the creative interaction which spontaneously began to happen between T’ai Chi-practice, meditation and expressive movement: that actually shaped the whole performance.

20In the Moving the Silence-rehearsals we always preceded the practice of T’ai Chi with meditation and Ch’i Kung. T’ai Chi Ch’üan (太極拳) literally means «Supreme Polarity boxing»: it is therefore a martial art based on the principles of Yin-Yang, rooted in the non-violent and highly mystical philosophy of Taoism. The breathing techniques used in T’ai Chi Ch’üan are dealing with the same energy-channels common to other oriental practices. That is why the practice of this discipline may be helped for example by a preliminary training in simple breathing exercises from Ch’i Kung and Yoga.

21Relationships between T’ai Chi Ch’üan and static meditation have been explored for hundreds of years, and they are considered by Taoist tradition two complementary aspects of the same path:

  • 4 Da Liu, Tai Chi Chuan e meditazione, Ubaldini, Roma 1988.

After the practice of T’ai Chi Ch’üan for a long period you should stop and pass to the meditation. After you have reached a remarkable calmness, you should start again to practice the movements of T’ai Chi Ch’üan in order to stimulate the blood circulation, freeing yourself from the bodily inactivity and relaxing the mind.4

  • 5 Roberto Fassi, Ignazio Cuturello, Davide Magni, Francesco Tomatis, Corpo e preghiera, Città Nuova, (...)

22Recently the ascetic and mystical aspects of T’ai Chi Ch’üan have awakened the attention of Christian theologians, who have encountered the ancient Chinese discipline as an experience of prayer and meditation, not only in isolation but also in relationship with others.5 This dimension of “shared” meditation was one of the cores of Moving the Silence.

23During our rehearsals, in complete silence I taught the first part of the long form of T’ai Chi Ch’üan Yang-style, as transmitted by the renowned Master Chang Dsu Yao, composed of 108 techniques.

24By teaching the form in silence, I encouraged the other performers to follow it without fear of mistakes and without the pressure to remember the movements exactly: the purpose of those sessions was simply to gain confidence with the form in order to taste a combination of movement and breathing technique. I believe that T’ai Chi represents a perfect combination of meditation and performative arts. I was confident that it could be a stimulating starting point.

  • 6 Ivi, p. 41.

25Silence forced me to find new ways to teach the techniques. I was often questioning myself: should I explain some important detail or not, should I correct my fellows or not, should I just show the form as a model, letting them make their own mistakes and proceeding at their own speed or is there a way to help them to grasp more quickly some fundamental skill? I was afraid to step back to the old Chinese pedagogy, where some masters never gave corrections to their own pupils, since they thought it was useless to do so: «a pupil will always repeat the same mistakes as long as he is unaware and when he becomes aware he’ll need no more corrections»,6 repeated ancient masters.

26On the other hand I did not want to take the opposite position: to impose my procedures on the others, forcing them to learn “correctly”. Of course, the technique is something which presupposes precise rules, but I believe that every person has the right to attain the same skill walking on a personal path: I think knowledge can be really learnt only if there is an interest from within. I cannot force the awakening of this interest, but I can help it somehow, offering opportunities. Master Chang Dsu Yao believed it was important to correct the pupils with words, but most of all with practical examples, giving them the possibility to visualize the master and to observe themselves at the same time without the use of sight, just becoming aware of their own body-sensations. Since I could not use words, in the beginning I just invited the performers to follow the whole form of T’ai Chi Ch’üan several times, and then we repeated a single movement together several times. With the use of gestures every now and then I underlined some important details. Sometimes I showed the martial application of one movement, in order to help the understanding of the dynamic. In some cases I adjusted a performer’s posture by touching her/him. I still felt I was instructing too much from outside, leading the attention of my fellows where it was supposed to go, but somehow forcing them to follow my own logic and speed.

27Silence and repetition anyway led me naturally and gradually towards a change of attitude, which accidentally helped me to get closer to the original spirit of T’ai Chi Ch’üan: slowness, relaxation, meditation. I began more and more to slow down the rate of execution of the form together with my breath-rhythm and I attempted to work as deeply as possible for myself. At the place of detailed explanations on single techniques, I just remained still in one single posture for several minutes, giving time to the participants to feel their own bodies in that posture and to grasp from me all the details they wanted, according to their own interest and attention. This is actually an ancient Chinese practice, the Chan Chuang (站桩, «standing like a post»), extremely useful to accustom the body to a correct execution of the techniques.

28In parallel with T’ai Chi and meditation-practice, I introduced some free bodily exploration-exercises, encouraging interaction with basic elements of nature such as water, air, fire, earth and so on, relying on the Orazio Costa mimic method as a supportive pedagogical tool: this made-in-Italy-method is based on a sequence of exercises meant to stimulate our capacity to empathize with any element of nature, animate or not.

  • 7 Ivi, p. 33.

29Even though the method encourages the use of voice in synergy with body movements, the basic practice of experiencing the natural elements with the five senses is a fundamental training of active silence, which allows us to establish a strong link with our “sylvatic” dimension in order to recover our physical and psychological balance, and also to build a spiritual resonance with the natural world. It is interesting to notice that the spiritual importance of such training is underlined by many masters of T’ai Chi Ch’üan. Here below, for example, are the simple words of master Chang Dsu Yao, as recorded by his pupil, master Roberto Fassi: «Improving the sensorial perception is important not only in martial arts but also in meditation and… in everyday life. “Perceiving” means: to become aware».7

30A remarkable experience was the moment when T’ai Chi Ch’üan and elements-mimic began to interact.

31That happened as a spontaneous consequence, whenever we were practicing the T’ai Chi Ch’üan immediately after a long exploration of an element: after the water-mimic, for example, I became extremely aware of the fluidity connecting the movements of the T’ai Chi Ch’üan form and I felt I could connect one posture to the other much better. After the stone-mimic, my T’ai Chi Ch’üan became remarkably slow and rooted and I could distinguish much better the shifting of the weight from one leg to the other, in particular experiencing a sensation of fullness in the body parts which were more Yang (heavy and strong).

32Among the performers there were two pupils of mine, from my ordinary Kung Fu-classes: it was interesting to notice how they could learn faster and more precisely by following such silent classes. In particular, they improved the sense of unity, the flow connecting all the steps and figures. Silence, repetition, stillness and slow speed somehow awakened from within their own capacity to watch, memorize and perform, as I could not do previously by means of many words.

33I believe such results should be taken into account by teachers of psycho-physical disciplines. For my immediate future, I am planning to develop further such a pedagogy of silence, as a privileged field for activating non-verbal ways of learning.

34The Moving the Silence – performance had its première on 9th February 2013, after a four-month-work without use of speech.

35The basic structure of the performance included long moments of stillness and silent meditation, mimic explorations of air, water, earth and stone, an exercise of authentic movement based on a mental visualization of a tree, weight shifting combined with a Ch’i Kung breathing technique, T’ai Chi Ch’üan and mimic interaction, a mimic improvisation with the fire element which could break the serious and slow flow, a final form of T’ai Chi Ch’üan performed by all performers in sync. In the meanwhile, an Ikebana composition would be created by Rev. Henri and our guest dancer Gesa Piper would be meditating in the lotus posture throughout the whole event.

36The space would be flat, with no separation between performers and audience, the sitting places would be meditation cushions arranged in two concentric ellipses; in the center, a wide empty space for the main actions.

37All performers were starting sitting-meditation one hour before the beginning of the performance and would continue meditating in stillness for other ten minutes together with the audience.

38Spectators were free to choose whether to watch at the performance or to meditate with closed eyes throughout the whole event.

39The last run through before the première was open to the audience. For the first time there was a huge number of spectators and I felt I could not maintain my own attention focused on the inner processes of the meditation throughout the performance. When the audience came in, after the first hour of meditation, my heart began to beat faster and a part of me was aware of all reactions of the people around me. It was a struggle. Fortunately, the structure of the event was so meditation-oriented as to recall my attention back to my inner work many and many times. At the end of the run through I felt tired and I could recognise same kind of doubts on the faces of my fellows: could it be that it is impossible to meditate, in the presence of spectators? Cannot we definitively learn not to be afraid of others’ judgements or dependent on others’ expectations?

40Then we looked at the audience. Some of them did not move from their sitting places and remained with their eyes closed. One woman had tears in her eyes: she shared later that she felt a healing process happening in herself during the performance and some deep trouble of hers melted into peace: this was the first of a long series of similar sharing that we have collected after each performance. Here below is a short quotation from an article published on the web, talking about our performance, which describes the process from the point of view of one spectator.

  • 8 Abstract from an article about Moving the Silence. You may read the full version on line: Maria Pro (...)

But is there a place for judgment, estimation, or interpretation when the meditation is brought to the stage? And how does the spectator’s experience change if he stays non-judging, non-estimating and non-interpreting? The brightly lighted lotus-ikebana is truly captivating. The performance is over now and I have none inner impulse to leave this space but a strong one to stay witnessing. Still body, non-judging mind. I recognize my kinesthetic response to this space – space full of silence (Maria, dancer and columnist)8

41We realized that the audience was not actually looking at us: many people were witnessing our actions, dealing with their own inner processes, as well as we were doing. I felt a big relief: we were not responsible for the success of the meditation of the audience; we had to leave it in the hands of the spectators.

42The day of the première I no longer had anxiety. When the audience came in, I was so focused in my meditation that I did not experience any remarkable change in my inner peaceful attitude. The sole variation was that it felt easy to spread my love all around me, towards our visitors.

  • 9 Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the oppressed, The Continuum International Publishing Group, New York 200 (...)
  • 10 Ibid.

43Of course, I cannot force myself to love, if I intend love merely as an emotion. But love is not just feeling, it requires will. Love is an inner attitude which may be trained in order to become a stable habit, it is «an act of courage»,9 as the great Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire (1921-1997) wrote, and «commitment to the others»:10 in the case of our performance, that meant for me to welcome the audience in the silence of my heart, in an attitude of acceptance of every single spectator as a special person, taking the risk and the commitment towards them to be just myself, without acting for the whole duration of the event, remaining faithful to my tasks. An inner silent dialogue between me and the others aroused without use of any mental word, in the simple terms of being present with them, sharing same silent space.

  • 11 Ibid.

44As Freire said: «Love is at the same time foundation of the dialogue and dialogue itself».11

45I started to enjoy the new situation of shared silence. Day by day, I could deepen the interaction between my creative expressivity and meditation, maintaining my attention focused on my inner processes and letting the movements happen freely.

46Some feedbacks from the audience underlined the importance of such events in contemporary society, describing the performance as a beautiful and holy space where people could just be, free from any definition. Even though in the Moving the Silence-performance we put on the stage our own specific spiritual practices, the artistic event was free from any religious connotation. Differently from churches, synagogues or meditation-centres of several traditions, our space was not selecting people in terms of beliefs and religion, since it was a place for art, but still it maintained a declared meditative purpose.

  • 12 Romano Guardini, Il testamento di Gesù, Vita e Pensiero, Milano 2005, p. 54.
  • 13 Ibid.
  • 14 Ivi, p. 55.
  • 15 Ibid.

47The renowned Catholic theologian Romano Guardini (1885-1968) defines a holy place as «a space denied to any profane use and consecrated to the religious cult»:12 Guardini wrote that «a place becomes holy just if God consecrates it, and that happens when God enters into it»,13 reminding the reader that of course Christians believe that God is omnipresent, but there are places where God is present in a «new and particular way»,14 which are «separated from the purposes of everyday life».15

48I think that the stage of our performance became holy, in the extent that it opened us to an honest attitude of introspection, to the wonder of witnessing, and to the “religious cult” of worshiping the presence of the “God within us”: our own deep essence. For example, many spectators shared that they had an opportunity to reflect about their own inner silence or about the place that silence had in their own life. Some others could face their own automatic pattern to judge and could train the counterbalancing attitude of witnessing. The most recurrent words were:

  • Being

  • Beauty/beautiful

  • Peace/calmness

  • Holy

  • Inner silence

49The structure of the event proved to be rich in symbols, which I could not even imagine before. For example, the two polarities Yin and Yang came out from the presence of Rev. Henri and Gesa, disposed on the two opposite sides of the room: one man working with water, scissors and flowers and a woman meditating with her eyes closed, in perfect stillness. Action and peace, daily life and spiritual search: they were harmonically mirroring each other.

50By entering the space, some people felt that we were isolated, separate beings in the same place, and the whole performance was a slow process of mutual attunement until we could move in sync performing the T’ai Chi Ch’üan: the ending represented our perfect attunement, transforming our own individual meditation into a shared prayer. Other spectators could discover uplifting messages of hope, recalling human beings to their own noblest ideals. The following quotation is another fascinating interpretation in the words of a spectator.

Beautiful and strong, also a holy experience. It made me think of all the monasteries, meditation places, temples, people who meditate together or alone as a net of silent oases around the world that actually keep this crazy world together and prevent it from falling apart (Katja, musician and theatre pedagogue).

51Personally, during the performances I experienced same kind of challenges that I face in meditation, such as restless thoughts and emotions coming and going, and the same processes and effects, such as concentration, expansion of a sense of inner peace, awareness, vitality. The slow rhythm of the performance and the silent atmosphere allowed us to spend a long time in each phase of the structure for waiting and listening. In many occasions I had the feeling that things were happening by themselves just at the right moment and surprisingly they were different every time.

52The performance resonated in tune with the different backgrounds of the spectators, allowing them to grasp new meanings and links with their own professional or spiritual interests. Some of them were glad to have the challenging opportunity not to analyze, but just to be there. Some others spontaneously wanted to write their own feedbacks and in many cases I had the impression of reading the descriptions of many different performances. For example, here below I quote two feedbacks, describing the performance.

53The first one is clearly reflecting the professional-dancer-background of the spectator.

Gradually and slowly like a flower blossom two of the performers move out of the blankets. Eyes closed, movements abstract and formless still not chaotic. The two happen to meet each other and remarkably the duet does not get captured into a movement flow common to contact improvisation technique. It simply keeps the two aware and curious about each other.

  • 16 M. Prokhorova, Op. cit.

As gradual and slow other performers come out of still meditation. And after a while with all my knowledge and experience in Authentic Movement, an expressive improvisational movement practice, I find myself witnessing its session happening as a performance. I witness the participants sensing their inner body-mind processes, recognizing their intuitive impulses and following them expressing movement. Nothing is directed nor predicted to them. And as an essential part of Authentic Movement practices the movers are passively observed – observed by us, the audience of the performance.16

54The second feedback has been written by a spectator with Christian religious background.

I heard the murmur of the water. The meditator sitting close to me seemed to be rinsing his hands in the bowl in front of him, dropped his cloak and began to open himself. I do not know if he was washing away some stain from his past but as he rose up gently he was more and more light and was moving with firm and light steps, with ability and control, raising his arms and legs. In the end all the meditators had risen up and were moving alone, without looking at each other. I thought they were together but alone. It made me sad. When all the meditators had “opened up from their shells” and had danced, each on his own place, now light without their own burden, the dance became happier and they danced in a circle, together, happier and happier. They smiled at each other mildly and looked happy together and their faces were shining. “Alone together” became “all together”. Only one meditator sat during the whole performance still on her place with a calm face. Maybe the cup of her prayers had not yet been filled enough for the purification (Liisi, spectator).

55I suppose that such a variety of interpretations has been possible because of the simplicity of the structure of our performance. While building the sequence of our actions, we attempted to apply the basic principle of the Ikebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers: taking away all the unnecessary and keeping only the few elements which gave harmony. We attempted to never push the action and we tried to let it happen, listening to the same silence together with the audience. The ten minutes of silent meditation with the audience, in the beginning, and the long period of standing meditation during the weight shifting, in the halfway through the performance, were in this sense very important moments to restore our capacity of listening. There were no sounds, no entertaining movements. We took the risk to break the rhythm generated by the flow of the movements. But we never interrupted the inner flow of meditation. I believe that especially these two moments allowed our performance to become a meditation: both the performers and the audience had the opportunity to go back into themselves. As performers, I think we have been able to use those periods to root ourselves in meditation, and to maintain a meditative attitude during the phases of movement.

56In other words, I believe that our performance could become a meditation because we were not performing meditation, but we were meditating while performing.


57Throughout our rehearsals of the Moving the Silence-performance, I realized that the core of my interest was not silence in itself, but the meditative attitude generated in silence. Among all the positive after-effects of our practice, I could affirm that our working atmosphere has been a concrete answer to the problem of the stress caused by a dispersive environment. At the beginning of our experience, for example, I had to fight against my own rooted habit of looking for false relaxation by means of distractions, especially during the pauses: it was not easy to accept just to be. I noticed that at the end of our working days I was tired, because of my effort in concentration. I felt tired, but not stressed at all. And little by little I became capable of working for many hours in a condition of relaxed concentration. I could observe similar changes in the whole group.

58The next step of my artistic research is developing creative strategies to retaliate periods for silence, solitude or ascetic practices within the frame of an average working and family-day. Even better: how to integrate our own inner hermit with our own social nature? My intention is not to escape society, by renouncing the world: I believe that a certain amount of solitude may help me to be more rooted into reality and to better live my life.

59What is the difference between isolation and loneliness? How to balance the propaganda pro-extroversion of a society based on communication with the need to withdraw into ourselves, at a times, and with the possibility of making introvert choices?

60In September 2013 we began a creative journey through voluntary seclusion: the Hermits in Progress-project. Our research-team is currently composed by artists, monks, nuns, hermits and spiritual seekers from different religious backgrounds. Some of them were performing in Moving the Silence.

61Our basic idea is to gently taste hermitic life (= voluntary seclusion from the world), diving into some of its various possibilities, maintaining an approach comprehensive both of artistic and spiritual dimensions.

62The Hermits in Progress-project provides about twelve experiences of voluntary solitude in form of short retreats, throughout a whole year, aiming towards the birth of a performance.

63We are aiming to transform such a direct personal experience into an event open to audience: as artists, we want to awaken questions about the meanings and the potential of such an extreme spiritual choice in our mass-mediatic society. As spiritual researchers, we are interested in developing new creative ways to make hermitic experiences available in everyday life.

64Regular reports about our retreats are available on my blog:

65The rehearsals of the Hermits in Progress-performance will start in October 2014, after a preliminary work of recollection of all our retreat-experiences: again, we are not pre-selecting the shape of the event, but we rely on an organic and slow work of spontaneous maturation.

66I am confident that the score of the performance will reveal by itself.

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1 Thomas Merton, The Silent Life, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 1957.

2 Giuseppe Barbiero, Alice Benessia, Elsa Bianco, Elena Camino, Maria Ferrando, Dinajara Doju Freire, Rita Vittori, Di silenzio in silenzio, Anima Mundi Editrice, Rimini 2007.

3 Thomas Merton, Creative Silence, «The Baptist Student», 48, 5, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville 1969, <>.

4 Da Liu, Tai Chi Chuan e meditazione, Ubaldini, Roma 1988.

5 Roberto Fassi, Ignazio Cuturello, Davide Magni, Francesco Tomatis, Corpo e preghiera, Città Nuova, Roma 2012.

6 Ivi, p. 41.

7 Ivi, p. 33.

8 Abstract from an article about Moving the Silence. You may read the full version on line: Maria Prokhorova, Moving the Silence: the most silent performance in the busiest time, 2013, <>.

9 Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the oppressed, The Continuum International Publishing Group, New York 2006, p. 89

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

12 Romano Guardini, Il testamento di Gesù, Vita e Pensiero, Milano 2005, p. 54.

13 Ibid.

14 Ivi, p. 55.

15 Ibid.

16 M. Prokhorova, Op. cit.

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Per citare questo articolo

Riferimento cartaceo

Gabriele Goria, « Moving the Silence », Mimesis Journal, 3, 1 | 2014, 66-77.

Riferimento elettronico

Gabriele Goria, « Moving the Silence », Mimesis Journal [Online], 3, 1 | 2014, Messo online il 01 giugno 2014, consultato il 13 dicembre 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/mimesis.515

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Gabriele Goria

Actor and theatre pedagogue specialized in Oriental psycho-physical disciplines. Since his childhood, he has been practicing meditation and Eastern martial arts. He currently teaches Kung Fu. After his graduation at Italian Theatre Academy Silvio D’Amico (2001), he has worked as an actor and director with two renowned companies in Torino, and as a teacher of acting in many different contexts, including primary schools, universities, and corporate entities. He moved to Finland in 2008. Throughout his Master Degree Programme at Theatre Academy of Helsinki (TeaK, 2011-2013), he has been conducting a research on silence, as a space of dialogue between art and spirituality. His current interest is to explore and develop meditative ways of working in the field of art. He leads workshops and seminars on acting, expressive movement, meditation and T’ai Chi in Finland and Italy.

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