A shared training day
Marine Begault is a MA Applied Theatre Student at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama – she is currently on placement with London bubble and will keep a reflective log of this exciting new project with families in Southwark Childrens Centres.
The day began with apprehension – neither the drama practitioners nor the children centre staff knew what to expect. The invitation had been sent out as a training workshop for the Story Bubble’s project.
As we were greeted with some tea and coffee, the hospitality of London Bubble was immediately felt. We began talking together and it soon became clear who was who: there were the children centre staff and the drama practitioners. Unconsciously, a divide began to occur with each group sitting together at different ends of the circle. Both worlds appeared very far from each other.
The success of the day lies, I believe, in breaching that divide. As soon as we began the workshop, it was clear that this was going to be a project that was founded on the partnership between the children’s centre staff and the drama practitioners. Building this relationship was very crucial: we needed to share our knowledge and expertise and work together.
Drama warm-ups and games relaxed the atmosphere and was a playful and warm invite to the children’s centre staff into ‘our world’. There is one exercise that I particularly enjoyed. We were asked to create a list as two groups (the drama practitioners and the children’s centre staff) of our daily activities. What is our daily routine at work? Following this, we were asked to create three different frozen images representing three of these occupations in particular. Even though this was definitely more of a comfort zone for the drama practitioners, the children’s centre staff’s performance and images were beautiful and powerful! The list was read and superposed to the frozen images, which were looped until the end of the list.
It was wonderful to watch each other’s performances and listen to each other’s daily realities. Because this was crafted and shared creatively and abstractly there was nothing deterministic or hierarchical about them, and whilst they were very different, this shared experience brought us a little closer I think. On top of that, having created a piece of theatre in such a short time broke down some of the barriers with the children’s staff as instead of maybe alienating them, it demonstrated that anyone can do and create theatre.
I really appreciated and enjoyed this first workshop, because it set the tone for what I hope will be a beautiful project. It is difficult as theatre practitioners, who apply their work in different contexts, to enter and then subsequently exit a world that is very different. By working (usually for the duration of the project only) in different structures and work cultures, it has been difficult for me to imagine doing this without disregarding the work and the people already working in these environments. The premise as applied theatre practitioners is that you want to change/transform/improve the situation, however, how can this premise be stated without offending and imposing ‘our culture’ on the people within and working in this situation?
This meeting was done with great sensitivity and sincerity, which completely changed the dynamics of the relationship. It felt that instead of coming into the children’s centre as outsiders to execute our project and ideas, we became partners in a shared vision.