ALUMNI GATHERING 2019: 'Listening to our Time, Speaking to the Stars'


7-11 August 2019

Welcome to our programme page for 'Listening To The Stars, Speaking To Our Time'.

Our Alumni Gathering is now taking shape with generous contributions from former students and staff weaving together to create a rich, collaborative programme.  

*This page will be updated as our programme continues to emerge*

  Wed 7th Aug Thu 8th Aug Fri 9th Aug Sat 10th Aug Sun 11th Aug
9.00       Singing (Naamah Pinkerfeld) / Meditative alignment (Ashley Ramsden)
09:30   Sharing of initiatives Sharing of initiatives: Present & Future Of Emerson - Steve Briault Sharing of initiatives Sharing the fruits of The Gathering
10:30 Break     
11:00    Dialogue groups  Dialogue groups  Dialogue groups Closing plenum – review & next steps Steve Briault/ Linda Churnside
12.30 Lunch     
14:00  Arrivals & Registration Workshops Workshops Workshops  Departures
15:30 Break     
16:00 – 17:00  Arrivals & Registration Workshops Workshops Workshops  
18:15 Supper  
19:30 Welcome & opening session -  Linda Churnside & Steve Briault.
Intro of theme – James Dyson
'Sharing Some Questions' - Panel discussion on the theme  with Jonathan Stedall Pericles theatre performance - 'The Little Mermaid' Social evening     



  • Gathering Opening - Our Welcome & Opening Session will begin at 19.30pm on Wed 7th August with Introduction to the Theme.
  • Morning Opening Sessions - We will begin each morning with half an hour of singing/ meditive alignment followed by the sharing of initiatives from Alumni from all over the world.
  • Daytime Activities - All participants are then invited to choose from a rich array of dialogue groups and workshops during the day.
  • Evening Events - In the evenings there will be a series of events which all participants are warmly invited to join.
    • Wed 7th - Introduction to the Theme 'Listening To Our Time, Speaking To The Stars' - James Dyson. 
    • Thurs 8th - Panel Discussion - Jonathan Stedall & Guests
    • Fri 9th - Pericles Theatre Performances
    • Sat 10th - Social Evening
  • Gathering Closing - On Sunday morning we will all enjoy a sharing of the fruits of the Workshops and Dialogue groups before the Closing Plenum.



Wednesday evening

  • Welcome and Introduction - Steve Briault and Linda Churnside
  • Music - a violin piece by Ivilisse Esguerra

PRESENTATION: Dr James Dyson - Listening to our Time, Speaking to the Stars

Taking inspiration from Rudolf Steiner's verse “The stars once spoke to us”, Dr. James Dyson will examine how the overarching theme of this gathering relates to the evolution of Emerson College from its founding impulse to the current moment and beyond. In Michael Spence’s words from “The Story of Emerson College, "Emerson was really a working together - a sum total of all the life's paths, the working of Karma and the fulfilling of pre-birth impulses and intentions of so many people, both staff and students, work and form”.

Dr James Dyson was the co-founder of Park Attwood Clinic in 1979, where he worked for 25 years. Since then, James’s already long-standing commitments in the field of adult education increased, initially in the areas of mental health, child development and general medicine. He has contributed over many years to Biographical Counselling Trainings, and to programmes in anthroposophic psychology in the USA. He has also been a Faculty Member of the Medical Section Seminar in Mental Health (UK) since 1990 and the British Postgraduate Anthroposophic Doctors’ Training since 2005. He is also Chair of Trustees at Emerson College.

Thursday Evening

  • Eurythmy -  a performance by Ivilisse Esguerra


Jonathan Stedall introduces a panel of guest speakers for an exploration of the future possibilities for Rudolf Steiner's legacy. The panel will examine the present day phenomenon we see in culture and counterculture where people no longer see themselves as defined by religion, science or philosophy; and explore questions around the future role of anthroposophy in relation to the growing surge of interest in all things “spiritual”. Does the current form of anthroposophy have a role to play for future generations? What essence of Rudolf Steiner's work could and should reach into the future?  How can we share this essence with those seeking spiritual development free from definition?

Jonathan Stedall was a student in the Foundation Year at Emerson College in 1966/7.

He worked as a documentary film producer at the BBC for over forty years, collaborating with a wide range of writers and presenters including John Betjeman, Laurens van der Post, Theodore Roszak, E.F.Schumacher, Cecil Collins, Mark Tully, Alan Bennett and Ben Okri. He also made biographical films on Gandhi, Tolstoy and Jung.

Jonathan has had a long connection with Camphill – his documentary ‘In Need of Special Care’, filmed at the Camphill School in Aberdeen in 1967, won a British Film Academy Award ; and in 1989 he made ‘Candle on the Hill’ – a trilogy of films to celebrate Camphill’s 50th anniversary and wrote and directed the two-part documentary ‘The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner’.

Friday Evening

PERFORMANCE: 'The Little Mermaid' by the Pericles Theatre Company

Founded by Emerson alumni, Pericles Theatre Company creates theatre projects with adults with learning disabilities. Participants are involved in all aspects of the production from designing and making costumes, masks, props and set through to acting on stage, stage management, fundraising and production. We believe that we all deserve to shine in what we do and to be valued and respected members of our community.

Saturday Evening

SOCIAL EVENING: Co-ordinated by Paul Matthews

Dancing with Claire and Andy Duncan, music, and whatever people would like to bring. Bring your instruments if you would like to play.



Curative education and social therapy in the 21st century -  with Paulamaria Blaxland De Lange

Where do new ideas really come from? Understanding how creativity works - with Fiona Campbell

Are we really as creative as we think we are or have the potential to be?

Join Fiona Campbell for an experiential, artistic workshop designed to strengthen our capacity for generative thinking, exploring what it means to be human and to be truly creative in the generative sense.

Born out of her work over the last seven years, drawing upon her PhD research, professional artistic training and contemplative practices inspired by Goethean phenomenology and the work of Arthur Zajonc, the workshop combines freehand drawing with contemplative and active meditation, and observation exercises.

Five years in the 1970s - with Wendy Cook

Introduction to Musical Eurythmy Therapy - Avril Jennifer Drew

“All Eurythmy has a healing element” said Rudolf Steiner in Eurythmy as Visible Music. “ For example, that this exercise (the relationship of the seventh to the key note) will have a curative, re-vitalizing effect.”

Avril Jennifer Drew has been practising Eurythmy Therapy for over 30 years and since 2009 has deepened her work by using the Musical Eurythmy exercises which she offers through this workshop.

‘These I experience as a step towards a Medicine in the sense of the Old Mysteries. In the simplest exercise, for beat and pitch or the movements for the major or minor key-note, rhythms or intervals, all these movements form a basis for healing the body’s organs. For instance, I will introduce an exercise with rhythms which help circulation. All these exercises have an enlivening effect and help me through my day.’

No previous experience is necessary, only an inner openness for something new.

Creativity and Technology  - Stephan Duve

Stephan Duve leads us to explore the dilemmas that face humanity in reconciling creativity and technology in this heartfelt session with brains and screwdrivers.

‘We created technology. Together we can recreate the freedom that was supposed to be part of the deal.’

In this workshop we will have the opportunity look into these amazing systems and objects of daily use.

Eurythmy as a Foundation for Working Together - Ivilisse Esguerra

Through eurythmy, we learn to move, carrying both the consciousness of the whole and our own part within it. This deep listening creates the possibility for true conversation with our fellow human beings and with the spiritual world.

In this workshop we will experience this by working with the IAO meditation, celtic weaving forms, and an artistic experience of the verse, “The Stars Once Spoke to Us.”

Storytelling - Stella Kassimati

Man is a bridge between the past and the being of the future - Mary-Anne Paterson

Theatre Of Awakening - Agata Krajewska & Phil Barber

SESSION ONE: Embodied Stories with Agata Krajewska 

SESSION TWO: Your Story, Your Myth with Phil Barber

‘We are all ‘story carriers’ and our personal stories have a way of opening our hearts and feeding us vital information. When we care for our stories they feed us confidence, guidance and wisdom.’

Theatre of Awakening is a blend of self-discovery and creativity, where performances are created from personal stories and inner experiences.

In these workshops we will work with presence, embodiment, improvisation, inquiry, telling and personal reflection. We give equal attention to the aesthetic and transformational aspects of the creative process, drawing on the power of embodied presence. By working in this way we free up our self-images and beliefs, realizing our potential and the gifts we have to bring. As we explore together, we come across parallels, mutual recognitions and emergent collective narratives.

No previous performance experience necessary.

Standing by Words - Paul Matthews

Writing Group - Drawing upon the work of Wendell Berry, Buddha’s “Path of Right Speech” and Rudolf Steiner’s insights into the life of Language.

Astronomy Workshop - with John Meeks

Astronomy workshop with star observation in the evenings, weather permitting!

The Zodiac and the 12 World-views:  The main Polarity of Material and Spiritual Outlooks - with Graham Rickett

Explore the polarities of the materialistic and the spiritual with Graham Rickett.

Graham has been studying the relation between the Constellations and the basic world-views, as described by Rudolf Steiner in 1914. In this workshop, he will first sketch out the overall picture to introduce the theme and then focus particularly on the materialistic (Cancer) and spiritual (Capricorn) polarity.

Participants are then invited to reflect together upon and discuss short quotes from various authors, and also work with a selection of poetic and dramatic texts that illustrate the contrasting world-views.

Let the Colour Sing:  a three-part workshop with paint and pastel - with Margaret Shillan

Part 1. Looking out, working with nature. Impressionism

Part 2. Looking in,working with imagination. Expressionism.

Part 3. Social painting in pairs and groups

Flowers of Earth and Cosmos - with Kira Orsak

Join Kira Orsak for a journey of creative discovery into the relationships between the Flowers of Earth and The Cosmos.

This workshop provides a practical exploration of flower geometry using the traditional tools of compasses and straight-edge. Drawing inspiration from the abundance of flowers on Emerson’s grounds, we will look at the relations of flower forms found on Earth with their celestial counterparts.

Biography Work - with George Perry

Witnessing Our Times: How did We Get Here and Where are We Going? - with Chris Schaefer

Chris Schaefer leads a conversation to reflect on the times we live in; looking at what it is that has led us here and exploring how we can re-image our world to create future possibilities.

This workshop arises out of the themes that Chris explores in his recently published book:
“Facing Ourselves and Re-Imagining America : Looking for Hope in Difficult Times”

I Give You My Word - Women’s letters as life support, 1973-1987 - with Signe Schaefer, Margli Matthews and guests

Join Signe, Margli and guests as they reflect upon the issues women were dealing with in the 20th century.

In this workshop we will explore what life was like for women in these times through readings and discussions and look at the difference between the challenges women were facing then and what women have to deal with now.

Water - with Ian Trousdell

Colour light and darkness - with Johnathan Soper

Kissing Joy As It Flies – Entwining Goethe’s Delicate Empiricism and Eurythmy as Social Process - with Liz Smith

Join Liz Smith for a unique, experiential workshop; entwining Goethe’s Delicate Empiricism and Eurythmy as Social Process.

‘Through immersing ourselves in movement, nature and each other’s stories we will challenge our habitual ways of seeing and practice a more fluid, accurate and participatory perception of our relationship to the world – and perhaps even glimpse the elusive living whole.’

Shared comfort zone - with Lut Vinck

‘Reading is like enjoying our own private comfort zone. We are alone with the story, the characters and the setting. We dive into the style and the images. We create our own world, think our own ideas, feel safe in our comfortable private rhythm.’

What if we shared this?

This workshop invites us to see what happens if we read together, share our thoughts and feelings, and express what words do with our lives, what we recognize, what we realize, what we learn.

“Ovid tells the story of two immortals who came to Earth in disguise to cleanse the sickened world. No one would let them in but one old couple, Baucis and Philemon. And their reward for opening their door to strangers was to live on after death as trees—an oak and a linden—huge and gracious and intertwined. What we care for, we will grow to resemble. And what we resemble will hold us, when we are ourselves no longer. . . .”

We will explore extracts from a variety of books including Richard Power’s inspiring ‘The Overstory’ from which the above extract is taken. Please bring a few of your favourite fiction books in English, or at least a few extracts you would like to share.

Let’s read and share and laugh and feel a great sense of trust.

Working with Trees - Riaan van Zyl