Some ramblings from Lucy, Creative Learning Director.
It has taken me a while to find the words to say what I feel. And then I read a piece by Ned Glasier from Company3, who summed up in a far more eloquent way what I have been feeling.
I am so conflicted by all that is happening at the moment. I read articles and watch what others in the Youth Theatre sector are saying, but I don’t have anything to add.
I think that’s because I feel that I can’t work like this.
I am not a great planner, I am a ‘get in the room with the seed of an idea and see what happens’ kind of practitioner. The spontaneity and chaos; the happy accidents and extraordinary tangents; and the listening- are all how I work. I love the freedom that it gives to young people and I think it is important to role model that. They have so much in their lives that is set and structured, that I think being with others in a room and practicing those leaps of thought and connection is a vital skill (and not just an excuse for me not to plan meticulously!).
But, what I think I am finding so hard as well, is that some people are flying with this digital world- continuing to run sessions and work in this new adapted way, and I applaud them and am in awe of their versatility and planning.
I am not jealous of this ability (thankful that they are able to offer it actually), but exhausted by it. Exhausted by the feeling that I can’t offer that, and also aware of how many of our participants don’t want to engage like this. I think it’s because it just isn’t the same, and they don’t want a substitute. They all tell me how much they miss being together in the room. I think some of them are grieving that loss, and it’s too hard to have a replacement for it.
I have been running some sessions with some of our groups. Quizzes, for example, where they all bring a question. It’s chaotic and random and we have a laugh answering, guessing and teasing. It’s a tiny bit of normality, it’s not quite theatre but it is play. We are also starting to explore the writing group that we have been talking about for ages: part writing skills; part getting stuff out of their heads onto paper; part well-being focussed.
One thing I am proud of is that I sent all our participants sunflower seeds. I asked them to plant it, name it, and suggested we have a competition.
What was interesting was that particularly young people (who previously are first to sessions and last to leave) who had not engaged since lockdown, started sending me pictures of their pots. I now regularly get updates from lots of them and some of them tell me how they talk to it. It’s very interesting that this little thing to nurture that has nothing to do with theatre has given them a focus; I guess it gives them the sense of belonging that they are missing at the moment while we can’t be in normal sessions.
I often say to them when we are talking about crisis or difficulties, that although right now it is awful- the sun always rises.
I suppose that’s why I picked the sunflower- that, and it’s easy to grow!
And it being a sunflower, when it blooms, will be a big jolly beacon of hope.