'Ment-Well' #1: Beginning with Permission
Authors: Caroline Horton & Lou Platt
This was our first meeting as a new online community – eight theatre practitioners (including facilitators, Caroline and Lou) – who don’t yet know each other or each other’s work. This is a first for everyone.
Over the next five months we are set to go on a journey together. There will be five mentoring sessions led by Caroline, interspersed with four artist-wellbeing session led by Lou. We have a rough idea of the terrain that we will be covering. Some of it will be about making theatre, some of it will be about our experiences of this moment in 2020 and how we might take care of ourselves so that we can come out the other side better, stronger, more resourced, clearer and connected to hope.
In the plan for the first mentoring session, there was a “to do” list to get through.
There was supposed to be plenty of time to discuss big questions around why we work the way we work, and what do we want to make and why and who for… but we barely got to that.
And, luckily, we gave ourselves permission to fail from the get-go.
This seems to be the key-stone word that will secure the new bridges of connection between us. Together we reflected upon what conditions are needed for us to be present and engage as fully as we can. We wanted, and needed, permission. Permission for emotions, permission to fail, permission not-to-know, permission to ask questions, permission to leave (and return), permission to be ourselves and to be with each other.
Time planned for the “to do” list, soon turned to time “to be” with one another. Time was spent checking in with one another – really listening to one another’s stories, to how we have felt since lockdown started, and the world was rearranged in unfamiliar, more unstable and often lonelier patterns. We drew up a contract together about how we want our new community to operate – with kindness, respect and permission to fail. And, when something else is needed, permission to let go of a plan.
First day nerves had settled by the end of our ninety minutes and there was the sensation of really having managed to meet one another, despite being in a Zoom, and not a physical, room. A rich lesson to spend time at the beginning of a journey connecting with your fellow travelers, and to create a sound container to hold everyone in before we venture out in exploration of the often unknown and uncertain seas of creativity.
Now we can begin. The questions - why, how, who for and when? - can now hopefully be explored with greater confidence.
And it’s exciting to begin… and it’s even more exciting to begin in this way.
What are 'Ment-Well' articles?
Between July and October 2020, eight early-career theatre makers will come together to explore different aspects of their making process. They will be guided by writer, theatre maker and performer Caroline Horton who will facilitate five Mentoring sessions. In between the mentoring sessions, Artist Wellbeing Practitioner Lou Platt will facilitate Wellbeing sessions. In a hope to share discoveries and learnings with the wider community, each participant will create a 'Ment-Well' article that will capture something of one of the nine sessions. These articles are for collective self-reflection and a transfer of knowledge. They are to be approached by the author and audience with a sense of lightness, spontaneity and curiosity, and may be a seed or starting point for further thought and exploration - nothing more, nothing less.*
* thanks to Kath Simpson for her inspiration for these articles - see here