In these events we look at individual and group aspirations across a number of days, prospecting with the participants to give resonant expression to their stories. At the beginning of the process we do not know what form these expressions will take, but at the end of the process the seemingly ordinary has been transformed into something extraordinary.
This might be an installation or an exhibition or a show, or a presentation. The key criteria are that what is made is authen-tically theirs and has exceeded expectations.
For the last 5 years Moveable Feast have worked in partnership with the disability strand of Aim Higher based at Plymouth & Bath Spa Universities. We have worked with young people with disabilities and learning difficulties from different community colleges across the South West region.
The range of what has been created has been enormous.
- At the Acorn Theatre in Penzance, students created a Circus of Aspiration that created a one-off performance entitled, ‘Streams of Light’. This contained songs, dance, slide shows, animations and story-telling [all performed by the students] that told a tale of their personal hopes for the future.
- At the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, another group of young people who were deaf or hard of hearing and or visually impaired, created a journey from their experiences to the present into imagined futures. The effects of creating this journey were profound and transforming. A severely visually impaired student who was too shy to talk to anyone but her dedicated learning support worker, took a lead role on stage in the final production. The teachers were amazed at how different the students were when they returned to their school and particularly how their confidence had grown and their horizons had been expanded. This was affirmed by ALL the students voluntarily returning for a one-day re-gathering of the group a year later, even though most of them had left school and two of them were celebrating their birthdays on that day. The young people called their project ‘Impaired Teens DONT Have Impaired Futures’!
- The Wish was a project run in tandem with Devon Action for children and young people in care. This also happened at The Barbican Theatre, Plymouth and involved a group of volatile and traumatised young people aged between 11 and 18 years. Over 3 days these young people wrote and recorded 3 songs [2 of which they sung themselves], constructed an 8ft tall knitted wishing tree, puppet characters and a story about a desert island. 2 young people found themselves on a desert island where they came across 2 previous castaways who where now adults. The adults told them that they could tell them how to get home but the price was their creativity. This meaningful and heart-wrenching symbol was an authentic manifestation from their collective consciousness of their predicament. The final song was entitled, ‘Whatever Happened to Childhood’. Everybody who witnessed this event was amazed and moved by their achievements.
The arc of these events is that we start by looking at what is present in the participant’s lives through a combination of different artforms. Then we give shape to these expressions and finally we make a presentation to an invited audience. These aspirational projects have proven themselves to be invariably inspirational.
The projects depend on:
- A good partnership between Moveable Feast and the commissioning organisation.
- Trust and understanding between the artists and the participants.
- A sound and reliable structure that is flexible and responsive to the needs and expressions of individuals and the group.