Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Why is play so important?

Writing some new information on The Hands-On Company website, made me think about the 'why' of what we do. I feel so passionate about this work and it isn't always expressed in the day to day happenings out on the road. I hope this will be a good opportunity to share some of my thoughts on puppetry, drama techniques and working with adults and children.

This is a section of what I wrote on the website:

The Hands-On Company believe that people of all ages can benefit from reflecting on their feelings through interactive puppetry and drama. Both mediums create a safe environment where play helps us all to step into the shoes of others, or a future 'us' when reflecting on a decision to make. The sentences at the heart of much of our work are:

Where are you?
Who are you with?
How do you feel?

An awareness of these three sentences helps us to evaluate if this is the right time and place to make a particular decision. It could be a sex or drug education issue in the secondary school, a friendship or online choice in the primary school, or a conflict management problem in the workplace. The joy of drama and puppetry means we can relax into this reflection and literally play with various outcomes and consequences.

We feel strongly that our work doesn't use scare tactics or blow things out of proportion. When we research a given topic, we use relevant information for a particular age group. This is a gentle, sometimes poignant - sometimes funny way of seeing life. Everyone has something to offer, everyone is special in their own right and everyone can interact at a level that suits them on that particular day. 

The magic of puppetry is something we are all passionate about. We have workshops that explore diversity, cooperation skills and storytelling structures. These are opportunities to enjoy what puppetry offers - sometimes just to have fun is enough for all ages.

Play is at the heart of the company because it creates a feeling of fun, shared possibilities and reflection opportunities. Using puppetry and drama as mediums to explore reasons for behaviour creates a safe environment and a focus. The puppets can become an outlet to describe feelings that are sometimes hard to own in front of others. For example, a large monster puppet is easy to hide behind. It becomes a coat hanger for any issue that wants discussing. It is interesting to see how each group member uses the puppet. It doesn't seem to matter what outward character a person shows, with a puppet they usually fall into three broad categories - aggressive, insular or humorous. This is especially obvious with adult play. I'd add more to this subject next time I write.