Teachers is a project I’ve been interested in starting for a while, it stems from a desire to understand more about why people become teachers – where their passion or lack of it comes from.
My mum has been a teacher for 40 years; I’ve helped in her classes and prep-work, watched her teach and even been taught by her. When I was 16, I decided I wanted to become a choreographer. I had a passion for movement; it made me feel good, it challenged me and watching/discussing dance invited me to think and be involved with discussions I would never otherwise have had. I was adamant I didn’t want to become a dance teacher – I admit that that path felt like it would be failing. Failing to do the thing I really wanted to do.
However, more and more, I’m realising that I want to inspire people to dance together or on their own, enjoy movement and use their bodies to express themselves. That’s a sort of teaching isn’t it – as desire to inspire others? I just do it in a different way (ie. not in a classroom).
So this brings me to Evolving in Conversation. This project, with a huge theme, is important. I was drawn to it, wanting to find answers and participate in discussions with other humans. It felt to me that I had an answer; teaching. Inspiring, supporting and sharing knowledge is how one individual can change society. Of course I’m not suggesting that everybody suddenly becomes a teacher, but it felt like an answer to share and I wanted to do it through movement. Evolving in Conversation gave me the opportunity to start to delve into the world of teaching, to interrogate the aesthetic of a potential show, to talk to people from Brighton about their views and for them to help to shape my work.
I took part in one of the workshops where we tested out my ideas for a participatory ending – I wanted to ask people questions and physically see their answers. It was a lot of fun; it involved the body, mind, smiles, and communication with others in the room. I’ll always be grateful for the input of that group and look forward to sharing and shaping the work with others as it develops.
Being involved in the EIC project has been a really wonderful experience for all of us in Pestiferous.
We have been performing ‘The Librarians’ since 2013 and have visited many libraries across England during that time. From performing in mobile libraries and tiny village libraries for rural audiences to large city libraries with diverse cosmopolitan audiences, we have had the pleasure of working with people form all walks of life and experienced many different attitudes to art and theatre.
EIC brought us in to perform in the Jubilee Library, a fantastically vibrant library, and it was very exciting to engage with the diverse visitors to the space through the workshop and on the showcase day.
The show saw our Librarians roaming the library, archiving, shelving, organising and quite literally flying with their beloved books. They led audiences around the Jubilee Library to explore what lies within the bookshelves. The show gave Brighton audiences a chance to see the Jubilee Library as never before; using dance, comedy, poetry and physical theatre. The work we make as Pestiferous is for people of all ages and backgrounds and aims to be funny, interactive, playful and gently subversive. We love laughing and enjoy sharing humour, absurdity and laughter with communities in their shared public spaces.
The nature of the project meant that we were involved on different levels with the community in the library. As well as meeting new audiences on the showcase day, we also worked with workshop participants, library staff and the other artists. This helped create a sense of belonging to the project, which I feel will be integral to the legacy of EIC, Pestiferous’ work in libraries and the further development of these new relationships.
The showcase event was fantastic fun as well as being an important project which will inspire other library authorities across the UK to produce more arts events for libraries and their communities.
We thoroughly enjoyed performing in such a vibrant library for a really diverse audience. Thank you Brighton and Hove Libraries and South East Dance for the opportunity!
Mary Eddowes (Artistic Director – Pestiferous)
It’s been great. I really like libraries and library spaces. It’s so interesting to see how people react with the library. It’s great to see, particularly this week, how people have engaged with the work. You never know how a workshop will be. People have got stuck in. The emotional connection was surprising.’
Although each workshop has felt quite different, both weeks people have been generous. This week the participants were relaxed, open, up for it, appreciative, enthusiastic and excited. The responses have been full, thoughtful and really creative. I try not to expect anything. You just don’t know what the response will be. There was a relaxed fluidity which spurred many thoughts. I felt lucky.’
‘It was really good. They were a really open group, very friendly and willing to try, so I learnt a lot!’
‘I’m so thrilled to have been involved. It is a rich and enormous project that seems to be having an impact on lots of lives. It’s been a pleasure working with South East Dance and all the staff at Jubilee Library. Public spaces like this are so valuable, and this project has reminded me of that. I’ll be joining Worthing Library next week!’
SAMUEL – PARTICIPANT
‘It was absolutely mental. In a good way. I really enjoyed it. It gave me the opportunity to meet people which I don’t normally do and gave me something to enjoy where I would normally be sitting at home, playing video games. I genuinely laughed, which doesn’t happen very often. Thank you.’
CATHERINE – PARTICIPANT
‘It’s been provocative, inspiring. It’s been everything I hoped it would be. I’ve loved coming back and having the chance to discuss the experiences, opening up with people you don’t know. I’ve felt really safe and anonymous. I’ve had the chance to create something of my own. I used to be a choreographer and this has given me the inspiration to feel like I could do it again.’
AZMIN – PARTICIPANT
‘I borrowed a book. I hadn’t done that before! So that was new. We used the library space in a way that was really enjoyable, really fun, really novel. I feel a lot more connected to my library now. The workshops have become the highlight of my week.’
LYNN – PARTICIPANT
‘Coming on the project has been great to meet other people, I didn’t know people in Brighton before… .We got to know each other and relate to each other through movement. Even stepping on each other’s toes, we learnt to negotiate, which gesture, whose gesture etc; we communicated differently.’’