Combine to Create Collective member Heather Fulton blogs about her residency working with children and carers in Lossiemouth, Moray.
In March I came back from my maternity leave to pick up where I left off and completely start anew.
I wanted to do all the things I’d accumulated in my mind over my year of cuddling, sleeping (and not sleeping) crying and laughing with my baby daughter.
I wanted to run groups, present shows, work with the young and old, create a space for teenagers, a space for babies, work in schools and nurseries…
On one day a week.
Time to reassess.
Before my maternity leave my work with Combine to Create involved working with parents and babies. I am continuing that work now under my own theatre company with a group called Moray Babies. This left space to explore connecting with other members of Lossiemouth community for my residency.
Wee Tales is a storytelling performance for children aged 2-6 that gently introduces theatre to young audiences. As a co-production between my company Frozen Charlotte and Aberdeen based Ten Feet Tall Theatre, Wee Tales was programmed to be performed at Haddo House in Aberdeenshire in October.
Through my role with Combine to Create I was able to add an extra performance for families in Lossiemouth.
I approached the Lossie 2-3 group to perform the show in their new centre – (appropriately) formally the Warehouse Theatre. I thought it would be a great offer to the families that use the centre and would also help promote the Lossie 2-3 group in the wider community, celebrating their new home.
On Saturday the 7th of October, a dreich, cold and wet day, we presented Wee Tales; performed by Elgin loon, actor Lewie Watson and Aberdeen quine Laura Booth. As families arrived soggy and chilled to the bone it was instantly clear this was a perfect activity to provide on a day where the outdoors is off limits and indoors all day could have everyone climbing the walls.
The audience were adorable, excitable and delighted with the show. Feedback from parents was ‘more of this type of thing please!’ It felt exciting to be able to stage local performances, and I’m also thinking ‘more of this type of thing please!’
Watch this space…
I began to put out feelers to see if there were any nurseries in Lossie that wanted to work with me. I got an instant and enthusiastic response from The Ladybirds Group, based at St Gerardine’s Primary. The Ladybirds support children with additional needs and their families.
In September went to meet the staff and the children. The warmth and the atmosphere the staff create for the children was an absolute joy. I have worked with children and babies for over 15 years but have not had much experience in working with children with additional support needs. This match felt perfect. A chance for me to expand my knowledge and skills and for the Ladybirds children and staff to have an artist in their setting offering an array of activities and experiences. Since the autumn term began I’ve been visiting every week, getting to know the staff and children and working to build an understanding of what I could offer.
Last week I ran my first session. I laid white lining paper on the floor and provided an array of colourful materials; large circle stickers, washi tape, chunky chalk and paint pens. I brought with me salad spinners to try out a paint technique that creates beautiful patterns, knowing that the children were likely to find it intriguing and fun. The playlist I compiled of gentle and uplifting music set the atmosphere.
Two sessions with two age groups and both were delightful. Watching how the children interacted with the materials and how the Ladybirds staff found ways to support children physically and emotionally was a fascinating and beautiful experience.
My initial nerves have been replaced with excitement and I’m looking forward to doing
more work with this very special organisation.
Heather Fulton is a Moray-based theatre director, maker and teacher. With 15 years experience of working with children and families, Heather works in a flexible and open way, adapting and responding creatively to ideas that emerge.
Find out more about Heather’s work, and Combine to Create, over on the project page.