We created a doorstep puppet show!
I believe puppets to be powerful and effective in helping children to learn. They make learning enjoyable and engaging, they are playful and fun, they stimulate the imagination and creativity and introduce a touch of magic.
To deepen my confidence and understanding of the use of puppets, I joined "Puppet club" at City Arts Nottingham. This is a group of people with an interest and passion for puppets. It is there that I met the wonderful creative women Briony McCombie Smith, Sarah West Valstar and Izzy Hollis.
This summer, with the help of the amazing Alison Denholm of City Arts and a grant from Small Steps, Big Changes, we collaborated to a street puppet show called "The Search for Teddy Island". We then took this out to the doorsteps of families in the inner city of Nottingham.
With the backdrop of a global pandemic, and just emerging from the first period of total lock down, we wanted to create a piece that was fun and uplifting, but at the same time had important messages regarding recognising our strong emotions, and learning ways to take care of them.
We focused on the following 2 mindfulness strategies, to help children come back to their body and the present moment, when they are dis-regulated with a powerful emotion like fear or sadness:
Focusing on one of the senses. In the story this was the soothing sound of the ocean waves.
Focusing on the breath, and taking 3 deep breaths and feeling the physical sensation of the movement in the body
My main role became narrator. I combined the spoken word with singing and the use of percussive instruments. The soundscape had a central place in the performance. Firstly, because we identified focusing on sound as one of the key well being messages, as a technique to de-escalate strong emotions. I used an ocean drum to create the soothing sounds of the waves.
Secondly, because sound was effective in capturing Bear’s emotional landscape, which is so central to our story. For example, the sound of the thunder drum, to capture the fear of Bear’s perilous time on the stormy sea. I used the lyre, with it’s pentatonic scale, to create special moments of attention, engagement and magic, which was something I had learnt as part of my Steiner Waldorf training.
We are hoping to find funding to get back out on the road in the Spring, and hopefully develop our collaboration further. Watch this space..
Photos by Jo Wheeler