Friday, 6 November 2009

Halloween Play Day

The Halloween show is over, as is the Play Day at Beaminster, another edition, and a whirl of other things making up one of the most hectic weeks of the year. The weather was good at the Play Day, and after we put up the Pavilion, people started arriving. Collection of all the willow and materials and leaves from the vans had to be done at once, and the interior set up. I hung up the leaf mobiles I'd painstakingly made (having got the idea from something Sonia of the Collective made ages ago) and started making a headdress. Over the other side, my fellow storyteller and maker of many craft objects showed people how to weave themselves a crown and decorate it with Autumn harvest. In no time the place was filled with boys looking like woodland creatures, girls like faery folk, and even some adults looking like a picture of carnival! Others wanted to make pumpkin wigs, many wanted to combine the two, giving themselves crowns with trains or veils. A few opted to make the leaf mobiles, as they were rather more complex. One small child did really well, and made one mostly by themselves, tying the string onto the leaf stalks rather than piercing the leaves, but I judged it was much better for them to do more and do it their own way than have someone else do it for them. Another older child merely needed to be shown how to do it, and then did everything themselves, even getting the leaves balanced and at different heights, only needing a little help with the hanging string. Couldn't have been done quicker by an adult. Another participant was a lad with either learning or socialization difficulties attended by a carer. After working out together that he wished to make a mobile, I tied the string around the top but then encouraged him to choose the leaves himself. He chose the first by accepting or rejecting leaves shown to him, but then was choosing them properly, clapping with the fun of it. I asked him what length each should be, and then the attaching of the leaves - the really fiddly bit - I asked him if he'd like to do? and showed him how and then he did all the rest himself. It all took some time, but he made a fine-looking mobile, all perfectly balanced, and was so proud of it - as I was proud too, if one can be proud of an action or an event or even someone one doesn't know. It was an amazing moment, seeing him walk away with the completed artifact, and one I don't think I'm likely to forget. Someone said they saw him later looking at leaves, considering, as if he would make others in the days to come. It was a rewarding day, and (while I missed getting pictures of all those wonderful crowns because I was too busy showing people how to make things, or being surrounded by fabric) it was strangely special. The wings and swords in the second half went down a storm as always, and Deor did some fantastic storytelling - despite having a cough! with bodymasks, to much appreciation. Another good moment toward the end of the day was seeing one of the grown ups swanning out of the pavilion wearing a crown, trailing a train, with wings, and an armful of withies tied as a Christmas decoration...
The organizers were delighted and told us so. Apparently their screensaver is the Collective's Pavilion - with one of the organizers standing outside it wearing wings, arms outstretched! and she wanted a bundle of wings for a forthcoming party, so Wayne obliged. People have them over their beds as well! (It has to be said, I've seen some really beautifully decorated ones, the imagination can really run riot during a workshop! when I thought about it.) I hadn't had time to set up a book stall, and had also wondered whether many of the participants might be of too early a reading age, but then the organizers all bought copies once the book and other workshops we offer came up in conversation at the end of the day! And then we took down the pavilion, cleared up the debris, took pictures of the remaining leaves, like paint on the green grass canvas, and then met up at a pub in Bridport with another Collective member, having a laugh and debriefing before coming back to HQ, where Wayne requested the pavilion be stored over the winter. Much shifting of stuff later, it was done.
This job is full of surprises and new skills. Despite having to be in a 'craft head' instead of a 'storytelling head' (new material/lots of props etc.) three days before the show! which I found hard (not having been a craftsperson long! and having to concentrate, with my head full of newsletter admin and rehearsals) it was really worthwhile. And still so strange to be one of those who make things that people (adults) came in saying - 'that's lovely!' and 'oh that looks too difficult for me'. I longed to coax them into making one themselves, but many were mainly there to oversee their children making something, and so wouldn't have a go. Something I made or 'designed' drawing praise? Being coveted even? Once being an 'oh how complex! I couldn't make that' person, it's so good to be on 'the other side' - one of those who make.
After a misty start (that part of Dorset is always misty!) the day turned fine by the end, and the sun set the leaves on the trees on fire, and I too saw those leaves in a different light, as I think all those who came to the workshops did, by the end of the day...
Huge thanks again to Carol, Anne and Sarah of Playplus for having us yet again, and to all the participants who made such great stuff!

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