Children are the future
I'm walking in London. The river Thames is swollen and oozing out muddy debris. An old man is bent over the rocks gathered on the side of the river bed; his wooden rake scratching the edges of stones in the hope of discovering something. I don't find out what. I watch him for a while feeling content. Then I pick up my journey and notice something colourful in the distance. The colour breaks the brown dirty water with its concrete backdrop. It's a boat. A boat with a colourful sail. I get close enough to take in its form and I feel an enormous grin spreading across my face. The sail is made up of beautiful patchwork pieces decorated by children. Paintings of the earth with trees and flowers blossoming. Pictures of different coloured hands holding each other. Animals and people smiling and the ocean unpolluted. Something about this boat makes me well up on my own. I know what this is evokes in me.
Children see the hope and potential in our world. They want to co-create in harmony and their views on justice and love are simplistic in amidst our adult issues. Kids don't understand economics or politically corrupt ties between countries in order to relinquish power. They see a flourishing vibrant planet, covered with nature's blessings. More powerful than the Dollar, the Euro, the Quid. Spending a lot of time with kids really does take off your grey covered glasses and you start to see the world in full colour. I know that connecting to that lighter and joyful energy can really shift the world as we know it.
Before I started working with children, my personal ambition was a little bit off kilter. My drive to get into a drama school was dogged, yet the reason was disguised with a sticky sugar coating- 'I want to be a fantastic actor'. Let me be honest here, that made up around 18% of the hunger in my journey. 82% was fuelled by my desperation to receive love; to ultimately become famous with a chorus of family members singing my praises as I gallivanted around in a cloak of success. I wonder how many people shared or still share the same deep drive, but refuse to acknowledge it.
Training for three years, I was like a desperate puppy, doing anything it could for a treat. Even when I wasn't enjoying a style of theatre or feeling disconnected to a project, I'd blame myself and refuse to acknowledge that perhaps I lacked the passion for it. I wanted to join the RSC down in Stratford Upon Avon. But if you asked me why, I wouldn't have had an honest answer. I wasn't particularly passionate about Shakespeare. I love seeing productions of it done in a way that makes sense to us all as humans. And I think his writing is brilliant. But there was no spark in the delivery of a monologue or performing a play that will 'get me seen by x y and z'. I was chasing something blindly and becoming more and more depressed.
Picture the scene; a new graduate, no agent, no interest, no clue of who I am or what I am, tied to the hip with my girlfriend at the time. We both apply for a job in a story-telling centre for children with the aim to make some money over summer. Actually, I didn't apply for the job, but my ex managed to wangle me in there with her incredible business skills. Anyway, this job flipped my world upside down. We show up and meet Lydia- the definition of the word Angel. Tiny, divine, mentor and phenomenal friend she trained us both how to work and adapt with young people and we became a powerful triangle of creativity and laughter. A lot of laughter. Making children laugh makes my heart feel like it is going to explode, I am telling you it is joy in its purest form. In that job, I played games, pretended to be Mr Twit, performed scenes from Jack and the Beanstalk and each time my body felt like it was buzzing on a high frequency energy. For the first time since I was tiny, I felt connected to what joy felt like.
I was embarrassed though, I couldn't understand it. Performing and collaborating with an audience had been sold to me as something very different. If you weren't crying and analysing your own performance with a beer afterwards with some other depressed mates, then it wasn't considered a worthwhile pursuit. Get yourself on TV or look to join huge theatre companies. Don't waste time on TIE or kids theatre because its for shite actors. Just a few messages I absorbed and took as wisdom.Now I know better.
We started running drama clubs and I felt myself step forward using improvisation to run the sessions. I absolutely loved working with twenty little magical creatures, in fact every single Saturday morning I would feel a huge wave of emotion wash over me and start to cry-laugh during the sessions. Cut to a few months later, the triangle of love developed a show called 'The Shoemaker's Christmas Wish', based on The Elves and the Shoemaker. As soon as I stepped onto that little stage shaking with nerves, the path I had laid down was dug up and a new adventurous path lay ahead.
Kids tell you the truth. They can sense a dodgy energy from a mile off and avoid it like the plague. They spend their time creating something with limitless imagination. There aren't obstacles to who they can be in their minds. They are infinite. They are a mirror for me in what I can become, if I relinquish all the crap I've collected over the years.
I am in a process of complete release at the moment. I am releasing my relationship of six and a half years, releasing where I set up home, releasing the theatre company, releasing friends, releasing parts of my ego. It's so physically and emotional painful, arrrrggghhhhh! It feels like someone is pulling a rope out of my chest and tugging at it.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to cling on to my old identity in fear. But in those moments of presence, when I absorb the love and passion of those younger than myself, my heart knows that letting go will help myself and this planet evolve.