This year I'm embarking on a brand new experiment. Inspired by Roots of Empathy and by conversations with the wonderful Jennie Reznek from Magnet Theatre in Cape Town, I'm doing two linked projects this year - one in Spring and one in Autumn, one in London and one in Bray, one with students at Lambeth College and one with transition year students in Bray, one funded by Polka Theatre and one funded by Wicklow County Arts Office. On the Irish side of the water, I'm doing the project in collaboration with the Mermaid Arts Centre and my long-time collaborator, composer David Goodall will be joining me.
Having heard about how working with early years audiences was so personally and unexpectedly transformative for the young trainees at Magnet and having found the experience of performing in my baby shows really personally nurturing, I wanted to bring together a group of teenagers and work with them to create a work-in-progress baby show (with sessions with babies a key part of the project) using my baby show methodology to see what impact it might have on them.
It's a complete experiment. I'm delighted to have Clare Kelly from ImmaLab, Trinity College Dublin involved to find a way to explore this from a more scientific viewpoint and particularly to have her Young People's Advisory Group to consult about models of how we might assess the impact in a way that works for the teenagers involved. I met the group of students at Lambeth last week, the call went out yesterday on Polka's website for babies to join us, I'm meeting the YPAG this Saturday and the call is going out for transition year students in the next week or so.
When I read this blog from the New Yorker about the power of babies, I know it's true.
Very excited to see where this experiment leads........ Watch this space.