The Shakespearience was an experience, the process of creating it was more of an experience than the festival day! The day was chaotic, tiring and so much fun. The process was a journey of ups and downs that resulted in gaining confidence, accepting myself & applying myself. I have a tendency, in both my personal and professional life, to only see the journey in things when they have ended. Hindsight is such a brilliant tool for reflection but I have learnt that this is not something that can be used on its own. I reflect that, when creating content with young people I need to drip feed them information and tools while also sharing and confirming the end vision for the final product. Foresight is what I struggle with; foresight is what hindsight has helped me see. We'll go on a journey no matter what, but to make it a journey that has the biggest impact, I need to know my craft and remember what it felt like to learn it for the first time. To recall those penny drop moments that sparked wonder and drive and excitement in me. I need to plot those points, plot my penny drops and build the platform for the young people to climb, working them hard and sticking to my vision even if they don't get it yet. They'll come to the gap in the hill, peer back at where they've come from and say, 'oh, I get it.' Drop the penny and get on board, ready for the next gap to happen.
Highfields School created a modernised production of Macbeth, my aim was to have them devise moments of their reality and weave them into a narrative that followed the main plot points of Shakespeare's original. I overestimated their ability to be truthful or authentic, they fell into tropes and stereotypes; creating scenes that were far from an honest reflection of any teen's life. To nurture honesty, to encourage a truthful telling I needed to first, identify that's what I wanted from them before setting the task, then plot the penny drop that I want them to get to: 'oh, I get it, showing an audience honest work helps send a message about how young people should be respected'. Or 'oh I get it, being authentic to my experience makes me feel good, it makes me feel like my life is interesting and that I matter.' Creating this climb and drop may involve a frank conversation, some free writing exercises, showing examples of contrasting works that are based on stereotypes vs authenticity. It may also involve pushing them and setting the tone and a standard of working by respecting myself and them as equal artists in the rehearsal room. I think the more laid back I've become with young people, the more laid back I've been with accepting a certain standard of work from them. I began the project and the final aim was somewhere so far ahead, it was a dot to me. What was immediately important was building a trust and rapport with the young people, through showing them I wasn't about to speak to them like a teacher, having a relaxed demeanour, handing over the reins to them to tell me what they wanted to do. I feel that in the future I will have the foresight to carry these things with me but also begin the climb to the first penny drop, in the journey up the mountain to the summit, with them without them even realising it. I have the foresight to integrate methods of creating a safe space, an honest space and setting my expectations of the young people in the room while playing games, checking in and playing with theatrical techniques. Showing them what I expect from them by giving them exactly that. I feel as if this project has taught me how to teach people how to behave around me, without belittling them or creating an oppressive atmosphere.
This journey has me realising that I also need to have this foresight in my personal and artist life. I need to plan my own penny drops. What am I climbing towards? It has me realising I need to make an example of myself, it has me realising I need to treat myself how I would like others to treat me. It has me realising that being authentic and pushing others to also be so, makes me and them feel good. It has me realising that having the foresight to work towards something I don't get yet, will help me carve a path up my mountain. It has me realising that I need to watch for the gaps and take notes when the penny drops and I say 'oh, I get it.' and head for the next one.