Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Community Days!

The past few weeks have seen a lot of activity at the house, with community days and Easter events. We were asked to attend them and provide games and face painting for the children as well as advertising the 400th birthday.
At the recent community day, i wasn't sure what to expect but when we got there, there were many different organisations from all over the local community presenting themselves and showing what they did. It was a great introduction to the 4ooth birthday event on the common, as this is exactly the kind of community spirit that we want to achieve.
We went around handing out leaflets to people but most people already had them from our recent leaflet drop around Ham. It was a fantastic response as it showed that people were genuinely interested in the event and told us that they were going to come. Some had children who were taking part through our work in the schools. We also had responses through the email account with some people interested in performing and also making cakes for the event!!
One thing that has always stuck in my mind when thinking about what the whole project is about is something that the landlady of the Royal Oak told Jennie and Zoe when they visited her. She said that they didn't feel that they had a connection to Ham House, it was in their town but it didn't belong to them. This is what the project is really about for me - making sure that the community feel like they have something to remember about the house, something that they were a part of. The idea behind asking them to sign the flag which will be raised at the end of the event means that there will always be a part of the community in the house.
I just read Zoe's blog and she mentioned Sharmilla's project and leaving a legacy. This is what keeps the project moving for me. It has been a long process and at times frustrating, but when it all comes together NEXT SUNDAY, (i can't believe we are finally here), i hope that we will all see how rewarding it has been. All the groups will be together, enjoying being a part of the birthday celebrations and celebrating everything that is good about their community - what makes it special. The parkour group will have the opportunity to meet Circus Suburbia who are looking for strong teenagers to come along to their free evening workshops. Parkour are looking to keep going and if we can combine the two and make sure that both projects continue, all the stress, constant emailing, phoning and arguments will have been worth it. I am really looking forward to the project now. It has been quite a tough few weeks for me but i now have the time to put my all into the project and make sure that everything goes well. I know that by the end, i will be proud of both myself and the rest of the team for sticking with it and pulling it off. A massive well done must be said to Sharmilla as well. She has gone out by herself and done her own thing without help from anyone and no matter what happens she should be incredibly proud of herself for taking a risk and being so brave. So well done and congratulations Sharmilla!!! And also congratulations to all of us for the hard work and support over the last few months.


2 weeks ago, myself, Ben, Jennie, Jayne and Jess went to St Elizabeth's School in Richmond to begin a series of workshops ready for the big event.

I had been in contact with the school for a while and they have been really enthusiastic throughout the whole process, which has been really encouraging and refreshing. I sent out a letter to the parents detailing the event and also whether the children wanted to take part. The response was great and at the first workshop we already had 13 children, with more that couldn't make it.

As it was the first workshop, we wanted to get to know the children and make sure that they were comfortable working with us. I was slightly apprehensive as the children different ages ranging from 6 to 11 and i knew that it was important to keep them all engaged. After doing Theatre in Education last year i did have an idea of how to work with the children but it was quite nerve wracking to have 13 children looking at you waiting for you to entertain them.

We began by playing some name games, such as, 'My name is...and if i was an animal i would be...' . We also played ABC where the children have to say ABC in a specific way, for example happy, sad and angry. These games were interesting for the children and also allowed us to see the different levels of the group. Who was confident, who would need a bit more encouragement etc. The children were great and we had a really good time with them, they were all asking lots of questions about the event and seemed very excited about it.

For the second workshop we wanted to work a bit more on the event. We had a lot of new children and so we did some name games again at the start. We decided that St Elizabeth's should be behind the pig in the parade, and so we worked with the children on how the pig might look, sound and move. We also told the children that there would be a story on the common, but we kept the story a secret so that it is a surprise on the day. We looked at storytelling with the children by asking them to make a story by saying a line each. The story had to be about a pig and it had to mention Happy Birthday. At first the children were quite tentative but as the story went on, they started to get more imaginative. By the end of the story the pig had wielded a light saber, left his wife and got lost in the woods!!

In the parade the children will be walking behind the pig and therefore in the next few workshops we will be making pig masks and also working on the big HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner that will be carried at the front of the parade.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the children again, and meeting any new ones that come along. This week should be great fun for them as they get to be really creative and get messy, which all children enjoy!