We’ve kicked off our Parent & Baby Groups With A Difference this week & it’s been so lovely to meet lots of new parents. We’ll be updating the blog each week to let everyone know what we’ve been up to (and to let those parents who can’t come every week in on what they’ve been missing). If you didn’t come this week, there are still some spaces & we’d still love to have you along even if you join half way through a term (get in touch with Suzy/Jenna at email@example.com). Here’s an example of the things we covered in our first sessions…
How do you introduce yourself? How do you define yourself?
“I’m the type of person who doesn’t like talking to anyone in the morning.” “Oh gosh you wouldn’t be able to live with me then!”
“I’m the messiest person I know” “Even messier than my daughter?!” “Probably!”
“This might sound strange but I’m the type of person who likes listening to the way my feet sound on different surfaces” “That’s lovely. Does that make you really focused on the present… or really distracted from everything else around you…?!”
Rather than starting off by asking everyone for their title or roles in life, we begin the session by asking the parents to reveal something small about themselves. These are things we can all relate to & allow us to get to know each other in a little way.
We then go around again & ask them how they would typically introduce themselves to a stranger.
“I’m a mother to two.” “I work for the council.” “Oh I really hate introducing myself, I never know what to say.” “My job can be quite boring so I don’t tend to mention it.” “I’ve lived in Canterbury for 8 years but am originally from Cornwall.”
The idea of identifying ourselves, even if done on a daily basis, can be a struggle for some people particularly when things are changing for them. This is one of the things we’ll look at as we start to pick up scripts, revealing characters & the assumptions we’ll make as we might define these characters.
We read a couple of different scripts. One is a theatre script, one is actually a TV script (though we don’t tell the participants that!). They’re both in some way about being or becoming a new parent. The names have been removed so that we can invent the characters between us.
Are Karen & Tom happy? How does this read differently if they’ve just had an argument?
What can we find out about these characters? Was A literally high on drugs, or was he high on excitement?! How would that make a difference to the scene? Why does B not have a flat? Is it his choice or is it his circumstances?
We come up with ideas for who these characters might be. Our Monday group defined B as a 38 year old male from Margate called Gavin who lived on his mate’s sofa! Whilst our Friday group called him Martin & suggested that he was a musician in his mid-twenties who had never dealt with responsibilities. One of us “played” this character & we all had a conversation with him, trying to get to know him further & trying to empathise with him as best we could. At this point, no idea is right or wrong. We go back to the script & see if these ideas fit what the text gives us. Some of them do & some of them don’t. We start to get more of a sense of who we want these characters to be.
We might explore these characters more in future sessions or we might leave them as people we’ve come across in passing…
By exploring these characters, everyone asks interesting questions. We talk about choices behind parenting, we talk about expectations, we talk about wanted & unwanted advice, we go off on tangents which are great ways of getting to know one another. This is a platform for creating space for people to open up. This is what we love about community.
We’ve asked the participants to each write & bring an extract of a conversation for next week. This can be any short exchange between two people, something overheard, a conversation you’ve had yourself, it can be completely mundane or really confusing. We’ll use these scripts to explore how drama can come from the every day & how conversations can inspire us to be imaginative & creative.
If you’re joining us next week, feel free to bring an idea, but no pressure, we’ll have lots between us (find out more about the group here)! We had great fun getting to know new parents & their babies this week & we can’t wait to get stuck in again next week. We loved seeing the babies interacting, we loved carrying on conversations whilst the babies were crying, & we loved having an environment where anything goes… thanks for joining us!