Phew. Are you finding time to reflect?
Today I am.
Here is a splattering of our photos that distracted me, sucked me down memory lane, took me of my path! thank you for that. There are of course hundreds of images missed out and better ones in the archive but today these made me smile. They are mini reflections, fragments, the tip of the iceberg of what is beneath or has gone before and led up to now. The courses, the shows, the friendships and the fun. From the hours of doing, to the times between doing where things settle and the magic is landing and you don't even know it, there may be no words but there is a reflection.
The fixed point, the suspension, the pause that gives meaning to all the movement thats gone before and will come after. Thats where I am now.
The image/fixed point above from 2010, captures our blissful ignorance of what the next 12 years would bring.
In the early workshops we ran and hosted we were sewing the seeds for something we knew not what! We were fuelled by a passion for clown and a desire to bring great teachers from around the world to us in Manchester, to reduce our travel and to create a hub of likeminded performers/collaborators/friends/(a life partner and two kids wasn't in our plan back then....)
But we shared a passion and that has taken us on many voyages, together and solo. It has saved us from sinking or abandoning the ship when sometimes that felt the easiest thing to do. The tears of joy that could flood an ocean, the pain of laughing so hard and the struggle, the push and pull of growth.
After each Performers' Playground course ends we enter a phase of reflection knowingly or not, the gear shift is abrupt and unsettling and that passion that brought us together 12 years ago is tested. We recall, document, plan and dream about what's next, fuelled by our vision for a full time school, that seems closer now. We make choices consciously and less so.
If none reads this I am happy, I have reflected, I have consolidated something, I have given time to draw thoughts and feelings together, there was a blank page, I created A beginning, middle and end. This is how Clown Lab/The Performers' Playground was born. Thankyou Mark.
At this point I always ask myself "what is The Performers' Playground?" It is a dream, It is a passion, It is 12 years of action and reflection, a set of decisions and many mistakes. It is and always will be a place of growth, that is formed by all that find and play with us. You might find us while searching for affordable clown workshops? independent actor training in Manchester? high quality clown, bouffon, mask and play training. Courses drawing from Philippe Gauliers' approach, John Wright, John Britton, David Glass and so many more of our fantastic teachers and mentors. You may find us searching for Professional development for actors wanting to re find the pleasure in their work. These things we stand for and after each course is over and the reflection shines new light on our growth and learning as teachers and artists, what we offer deepens.
It is 2 minds and passions coming together to make something special, there is push and pull in which new ideas are born and old ones re purposed or instilled, we have different and complimentary approaches to liberate our students and different ways to create both security and insecurity our differences are celebrated and our unique offer is refined.
What I have found when I open up and allow myself to see what is happening in front of me is the strength in collaboration, the interconnections of our networks, the value of mentors, the evolution of community, the sharing and re fuelling of passions. The necessity of the periods of reflection as a place of subtle but deep growth. This time round I am driven by questions more than seeking answers.
As my unofficial mentor John Britton says our job as artist teachers is to leave our students wanting to keep learning, with a curiosity and a passion for learning. This goes against the: Acquire knowledge and move on, Achieve, Achieve, Achieve, Present, Prove narrative in our society. Learning equals growth and takes on all forms and this blog is a place of learning for me today.
What I have learned I do not know in my mind but I trust is settling and hatching plans within me.
In the period of reflection we reach out to past students and look into ourselves. We do both and start to see feedback as creative and interesting rather than anxiety fuelled and pressurised. The students all got back to my request for feedback saying they had been mulling over how to find the words to articulate their experience with us, there may not be words, or not yet, but also see what comes when you start to write, let it flow....If you are still reading, how are you reflecting in your life?
I'll leave you with some of their words.
"When I’ve trained with other people and companies before, there’s always a limit. A limit to how much fun you can have, a limit to how free you can be, a limit to how big, small, beautiful, ugly, stupid, you’re allowed to be. With The Performers' Playground, the concept of limiting yourself is thrown out the window"
Katie Keet PP 6 Graduate
"I couldn’t honestly tell you yet how much or what I learnt on the course but it’s inside somewhere percolating in a vibrant joyous spirit that exists much more near my surface now and it makes everyday more curious and wonderful and much easier to find the game and release the mischievous instinct"
Liam Hurley PP6 Graduate
"The course totally changed how I see the world. I really loved how you were able to coax me into ‘acting’ without me getting too heady or paranoid about it. You were also great at responding to our individual styles. Mostly I just loved being given the space to laugh, dance and take the piss every week"
Amy Heggarty" PP6 Graduate