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Oh how I’ve missed it...

Helen, a participant from our Creativity Recovery Programme, writes about what it was like to go on a roller coaster ride with some friends…


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The Creative Community Recovery Programme has been in full swing over the last few months. In person and online workshops as well as discussions have been taking place, welcoming existing and new participants. Not to mention the Creativity Packs – over 450 have been delivered and we are hearing how beneficial they have been to people who do not have access to the internet.

Written by Helen Wells, a Creativity Recovery Programme Participant.

Its October and Silver Stage is up and running again!

Outside its rule of 6 and only some dearest friends letting you over the threshold to use the toilet during a garden visit. Family on zoom, meetings on zoom, theatres closed, entertainment on YouTube and Facebook or more zoom. Masks everywhere and avoiding each other in the street, staring hard at anyone who comes too close or worse- Coughs

So will it be ok? We creep, masked, sanitised and separate up onto the Playhouse stage. Theres some old friends and some new faces- we sit on chairs at least 2 metres apart and slowly we relax, expand, laugh and start to play together. We are led by Andy and his upbeat energy is infectious. We play some silly games – One Duck, Two Legs, Quack,

BIG BOOTY- we literally warm up and feel that wonderful feeling of another persons energy, their difference, their willingness to be in this shared experience.

Oh how I’ve missed it!

One session after the usual fun warm ups we had to devise a scene to include hysterical laughter, a chilling scream and silence. I immediately thought of a roller coaster ride and my small group of players were up for that idea. There were four of us so we made a roller coaster: 2 sets of 2 chairs and imagined this group of four teenagers at the fair ground, excited, thrilled, going for the Big Beast- the biggest scariest roller coaster of them all. One reluctant, wanting to go on the shooting range and win a teddy bear, one wild – me -egging the others on. We laugh hysterically and play the chugging up the first section, screaming down the slope, swaying side to side and arms waving in synch, chugging up the next incline and wild me getting so excited I’m standing on my seat shouting  “The Beast” and at the top fall out.

Curdling scream…… getting quieter and quieter and quieter and quieter as I spiral down to the floor. Shocked silence…………the reactions of the others, as the roller coaster comes to a gradual halt………..Wow powerful

And then we think together of how to improve it, getting feedback from Andy and the other group, and later do it again with those small touches that make a difference.

We managed 5 sessions before lockdown came again but it was so worth it.

The Creative Community Recovery programme also included lots of free zoom sessions which I signed up for. I did a Clowning Workshop – fun and rule breaking. I went to Culture cafe and learnt about Monologues and the World of Interactive Literature and I did 2 workshops on Creative Writing- Writing for the Theatre with James McDermott.

These were special workshops- a chance to remember experiences of theatre performances that had had an impact on you, or classes that had changed you or given you new confidence and write about it. Sharing the excitement and magic and power of theatre to open up your eyes and heart to other lives and to your own life. To record its impact as we could so easily loose it. Its hoped that we will do something with this writing which feels important- a pamphlet to hand out, or something online or eventually a performance. Getting the word out on the importance of theatre in our lives.

When Sam asked me to write this for the Norwich Theatre news page I looked up the Creative Community Recovery programme again and found that its targeted at older people in the community to combat the increased isolation brought about by Covid-19.

I have not often identified with being older or isolated – I’m still a working artist- but it is true that this time of Covid-19 made me very aware that I was now in an at risk category and needed to be careful. The first lockdown put an end to many of my planned community projects and I found myself thrust back into my garden, still able to go to my studio and work on my internal world but missing the nourishment, the symbiosis of working and connecting with others. I also missed hanging out and going to the theatre and cinema with friends, going to classes, coffee afterwards, the sharing of culture that is so important to me.

So the Creative Community Recovery programme was for me and if you look back now at my story about falling off the roller coaster ride you can see that we were also processing our fears about these times, playing and being creative with them. That is the Creative Recovery – such a gift.

Thank you Norwich Theatre