Having graduated just as a pandemic threw the world into disarray, I really didn’t think I would continue working in the arts and would be looking for a new career. But then I got the chance to work on the Immerse Programme with Imaginate. It was my first ever job with such an amazing Children and Young Persons Theatre Company. I was on placement for 4 days at the Canal View Primary School in Edinburgh. It had been so long since I had done any theatre or arts in education work. The week of Lockdown started I was creating a show with a Primary 5 class at Lorne Street Primary School in Glasgow and it always felt sad that I never got to finish that show with the other 2 artists and the class. But I was also ready to get back into the flow of things.
In the past I had always worked with friends in school, but this week I was going to be working with 2 new artists who I had never met before. But I can’t say enough how amazing Brian and Lucas were to work with. Being able to shadow and learn from these 2 artists but also share my practice with them was such a joyful experience. We all held each other during the 4 days and brought joy to the class. It was a week of learning the names of the kids quickly, going on a trip to a canal, connecting with nature and creating creative work. It was a week that really threw us all into the work but at the end of the week I left with 2 new friends and a ton of creative learning. I grew my practice by learning new warm ups and activities to use in the classroom and playground when working with kids.
This first job with Imaginate was such a brilliant experience, as it gave me back my confidence on why I chose to work in the arts and why working with young people is so important, because they are the future and we need to inspire a future generation of artists. And I couldn’t have grown in confidence if it wasn’t for the support and care of Imaginate, Lucas and Brian.
Ps. take care during an overcast weather forecast, because sunburn isn’t fun…”
Working in a school for the first time since March 2020, when I was working on another Imaginate Immerse residency, was an inspiring way to reconnect with working in person again and to be back in a school. I worked with 2 wonderful artists, Lucas Chih-Peng Kao and Sanjay Lago, we were outdoors each day, and were fortunate in having good weather, and at Canal View Primary School, a school with a wide range of outdoor spaces, a woodland space and, running close to the school, the Union Canal, and we even found a quiet spot for lunchtime picnics near the school.
Creatively we brought a range of experiences and approaches from our different work practices; exploring creative movement, visual art and voice work. We began with some ideas inspired by The Lost Words, a beautiful book written by Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by Jackie Morris, a ‘book of spells’ about nature inviting readers to notice and value the natural world around us by honouring the names of animals, birds, plants and insects.
We watched birds flying gracefully in the skies above the playground and explored moving together as a flock, and appreciating how something that appears so effortless can be challenging to learn! We listened to the sounds of the woodland and explored how to move around the trees, using voice and our bodies to create duets. Having two classes and a lot of new names to remember we played some movement games to share our names and developed these into short energetic and playful choreographies in small groups. We made large chalk drawings on the ground that filled the playground using the shapes and spaces around our bodies making expressive and overlapping colourful patterns.
The nearby canal provided an opportunity for an out-of-school trip, the first trip out of school for the year. As we walked along the river, Lucas invited everyone to notice the sounds of the canal and under bridges with our eyes closed and we reached a larger park, where we gathered imaginative stories and small items from the meadows that we noticed and interested us, and it provided what seemed a vital opportunity to run free, to have space, to move and play.
The time passed quickly and it was such a positive experience to explore and create without the pressure of an outcome, I wonder how much our week provided a creative respite from the challenges of the past year. We brought each of our different artist and cultural backgrounds and new faces into the school, and hopefully we created a memorable week for the children of P5. It was a welcome return to working in person after a lot of online classes, a time of remembering about how to make work together again. Also an appreciation of how important this work is, the connections and inspiration that comes from working in person, how it connects us through creativity, playfulness and fun.