Giocosamente Festival – Its all about playfulness – Founder and Organizer Anthony Talks to Defuze Mag about all things playful and how it can improve the quality of our lives.
Can you tell us a bit about the Giocosamente Festival. Since how long has it been going on and what has been the inspiration behind it? What are its main objectives?
About 6 years ago I was on a three month course with the environmental philosopher Charles Eisenstein, called living in the gift. My gift, it turned out, was playfulness. I knew it was a part of how I saw the world but never thought of it as something I have to share.
It was a lovely surprise. I immediately went deep into lots of books on the topic and set off for a playful festival in Denmark. The counterplay festival. I met lots of inspiring folk there and decided to give it a go at organising my own playfulness festival in Italy.
The focus would be on practising playfulness, not so much on the academic side as I thought that’s best covered in an online version. To get together and really play, becoming bigger than life, smiling, laughing. Letting go of anything that weighs us down.
The main objective is that each participant gets to be seen and gets to see the others. We spend a lot of time greeting and welcoming and we insist at Giocosamente that we start and end together. This is how we create such a magical atmosphere of humanity in what is really very simple. It’s through this container where adventurous souls and kind hearts can come together and connect. Strong friendships are forged through playing and laughing together.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what made you start it?
As I dawned on me that playfulness was important to me Festival Organizer Anthony strangely started becoming very aware of my serious side. The part of me that was often overwhelmed, that felt the pressure of all the things to do. A sense of heaviness and accompanied with anxiety on waking up in the morning. I realised that it was not so much to do with just me but rather a reflection of society around me. To really find my playfulness I was going to need to be surrounded by people who are interested in cultivating playfulness like me.
What kind of activities, workshops and programmes are there to engage the festival goers?
Giocosamente is a small festival that can welcome a maximum of 100 people. There are sessions where we all get together in plenary and workshops that are planned by participants in an unconference style. The workshops alternate between active ones involving lots of movement, and quieter games. The emphasis is on leading everyone into a state of openness, curiosity and joy, while being present in the process. That’s a great definition of playfulness by the way!
The festival is hosted by Pianeta Verde, and we eat great Italian vegan food. In the evening we dance, juggle, or play board games, or just hang out. This year we took a trip to a nearby village (where I live) and where the festival began Toffia, it was fun to go as a convoy! Giocosamente means playfully in Italian. www.giocosamentefestival.eu
What criteria do you look for when it comes to the selection of educators, artists and musicians etc.?
There’s a self selection and the quality of presence and experience is high. Festival Organizer Anthony spent a long time defining who I’d like to join and the website helps with the natural selection. I wanted to avoid creating a distance between who holds classes and who doesn’t, for me it’s really important that everyone can feel that they can let go of their role and have a good time.
Even as the organiser I also join classes while managing to hold the space for everyone. It’s quite challenging, I ask a lot of people and try to set an example. I like to connect personally with each participant and ask a little more about them. Everyone’s a little nervous before coming, including me! It allows for the magic to happen.
Could you share some memorable moments from the previous festivals?
There are so many moments. Mainly seeing the transformation in folks’ faces and friendships growing. It’s the general atmosphere that stays dearly with me. The second edition was online and we had some incredible conversations and silliness. You can find some of the round table sessions on my podcast The PlayfuLife Podcast – Festival Organizer Anthony about to start it up again. The silly dance night was a big hit last year, I had to laugh the whole night while dancing in fancy dress. This year we added a Playful Fashion Parade, and had us in stitches.
Playing hide and seek in a nearby castle. So many moments.
What is your personal philosophy about Playfulness and how do you think we can incorporate it in our everyday life? How can it positively impact our lives?
Finding what tickles your fancy and doing more of it is a great way into playfulness. It’s such an underrated means to find yourself. When we play we are very real and present, we fully show up. Playfulness is like mindfulness with extra juice. When we don’t feel we have enough time to play is a sure signal that we need to play. I know it’s paradoxical.
Playfulness has a scale to it, at the beginning we are playful in certain moments, it can become more stable into we learn to play the game of life. Playfulness is not frivolous, it’s very deep. It can help us out of mild depression, aid us to find ourselves again and have energy and time to do things that light us up and create impact. Finding play in personal and professional relationships can be a “game” changer. We need to trust others more. Playfulness comes with some lovely sisters such as, kindness, courage, joy and gratitude.
Hurt people, hurt people and playfulness can turn it all around. Start with observing play around you, noticing it, if you’re stuck in seriousness this may take a while but we are surrounded with funny moments. The next step is to dive into your play history and this is something I enjoy helping people with as it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
Play is scary for many folk as it’s unpredictable, just for this reason it’s a brilliant life training to learn to cope with anything that comes our way. Excellent uncertainty training.
What do you think the participants take away with them at the end of the festival?
A renewed trust in humanity. Inspiration to actually enjoy life. New friends.
How successful has the festival been so far? How has the response been and what are your future plans about it?
This is the fourth edition and has been steadily growing. It’s four days long and we’ll probably add a day next year. I’d like to do a winter version somewhere warmer. Perhaps even an edition in the UK. I grew up in Penzance.
I’m very interested in taking folk on a journey into their playfulness and am also planning retreats and daylong workshops. Festival Organizer Anthony planning a trip to India this winter “In the Footsteps of Hanuman”, it’s going to be lots of fun and a deep dive into our lives.
Can you also tell us about your book or have you authored more than one?
My new book “Meeting Life” is about my story when I left the UK at 21 a couple of years back (haha!) I left after finishing Uni and mid flight to France I had to cancel my return ticket. I had about £50 my backpack and my beloved juggling props. From a shy chemistry post grad Festival Organizer Anthony started busking in France, Spain and Portugal. I came back after four months and had had the most incredible encounters. I touched life. It’s an inspiring tale. Inspiring for anyone that needs that puch to go on an adventure. Available on amazon.
In 2015 I wrote a book for Jugglers “Pearls of Juggling” a beautifully illustrated book taking jugglers on a journey into Art. It was a blend of 20 years of Yoga, 3 years in a physical theatre school in Switzerland and my work with retreats of jugglers in Italy.
What is the one most important advice you would give to anyone?
Connect to playfulness through your play history, create a “play-list”, learn something new you’ve always wanted to.
Anything to break through the “know-it-all” grumpy bags in you!