Lizzie’s Bologna Blog Finale Part 2

March 23, 2009

I want to finish off my Bologna blog with talking about my last morning when I, together with Rachel, visited a nido (0 to 3) creche to see the programme Theatre Scribbles in action. I mentioned this in my second blog when Roberto of La Baracca explained the thinking and principles behind Theatre Scribbles. It was lovely to experience the reality.
Here is what happened. We met with two delightful women (sorry, didn’t note their names) who have been working with these techniques for years. They both work at different creches from the one that we were visiting so they were coming into this nursery from outside over a period of 6 weeks (twice a week I think) to work with the same groups of children. (Roberto had made a point earlier on in the week that not all teachers want to do this type of work. You have to find the teachers who are happy to explore this aspect of physical expression.) The children (2/3 year olds) took their shoes off outside the room (if they wanted to – one boy didn’t) and were led into a smallish quite bare room. There were about 6 children – one helper who sat on the side with the children and the two teachers. The teachers were wearing loose T-shirts and leggings. They begun to tell a simple story – perhaps not so much a story as language that talked about trees and the wind and the sun and the sea and fishes (these are the elements I picked up with my lack of language).  Music played in the background and the women moved their hands, their legs, their bodies with a simple language of  gesture – gradually the children, if they wanted, joined in, sometimes copying a move or physically interacting with the teachers or rolling on the floor with them. It was gentle and playful. The children also contributed vocally. They were free to do what they wanted but there were ‘rules’ – at one point 2 or 3 children decided to chase around the room and they were gently told to refrain – and the curtains on the windows were a great draw with the children having to be extracted several times from behind them. But generally the children did focus on the actions of the teachers and it was lovely to see how they were drawn in. The whole experience lasted only maybe 10 or 15 minutes. At the end the children and teachers joined hands in a circle and they played a simple name/ response game.
It’s not rocket science! As I observed the session I thought that the sad thing was that this work was seen as something unusual or groundbreaking. Working with children in this way seems to me to be the most natural thing in the world but I realise that many adults are ill at ease with working with children in a way that makes them, the adults, feel exposed. Thus this expressive work rarely takes place.  Maybe we need to make a distinction between expressive and creative. With creativity we explore something with our hands and our minds and our imagination but, to express it, we need the means to externalise the internal, to go from the inside out and I have a feeling that this is what this work is trying to do – to give children a feeling of ease with themselves so that they can express themselves. The term ‘the expressive arts’ is not new but perhaps one that we should be coining in relation to work with the very youngest. In fact I am wondering if early years workers would find the word easier to embrace. You so often hear people saying – oh, I’m not creative (meaning I can’t draw or play a musical instrument or write a story etc) but being expressive, whilst personal, might be an easier concept to accept. I don’t know. It’s just a thought….
Anyway I really enjoyed my morning in the creche and it brought to the end a fantastically stimulating and exhausting week in Bologna.

One comment

  1. oh Liz, you’ve put that so well – the difference between the creative and expressive – had not thought of it in that way before, but really get what you mean. I have seen dvds of this process – thanks Ruth!!! and did what i guess you would describe as an ‘expressive’ workshop with Robertto in London maybe 5 years ago – I really got alot out of it then, but now perhaps even more so. It makes more sense when you have children or work more closely with them – their need to physically and vocally express & explore themselves especially in that long stage before they can express themselves with accepted language. Working with adults to explore their expressivity though reminds me so much of exploring your ‘clown’ – what is ridiculous & funny about you – accepting what you have/who you are and enjoying making fun & pleasure out of it. And there are so many parallels between children and naive clowns (and I mean honest / true clowns by this not the guady face painted variety). Astrid has taken to wearing one of my red noses, not htat she needs it! – i laugh at the clown in her daily!!!!! Why can’t we laugh at ourselves more too – adults I mean…… well i could go on – obviously this has hit a chord with me!

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