Overnight, we received a message from Jamie Thompson, who is currently living in China, teaching drama; he was one of our longest standing facilitators here in London and is a much loved member of the team, despite having been away for the last couple of years. Jamie is living in Shang-Hai, where they are just reaching the end of their own Coronavirus outbreak and he has sent us some words of advice, encouragement and inspiration. It gave all of us at Bigfoot HQ the boost we needed to make it through the day, and we hope that it does the same for you; thank you so much Jamie!
Dear all of the Bigfoot team and all the wonderful freelance facilitators.
I hope you are well, and all keeping in good spirits as the world enters this unprecedented time.
I still consider myself a Bigfooter, having spent so many great years working with the company, and through the company having the opportunity to come to China to work with children in schools, theatres and our own ASK (Art Space for Kids) education programs.
Here in China, we feel your anxiety but want to share as much as possible about our experiences during this situation and reach out and share some thoughts.
It can be tough, I know that. But I wanted to point out the positives in this, as we are all natural adapters. I have found personally that not only does it give me some downtime and reflection time, but it’s also been a spur to do those things that I’ve always put off, or made excuses for. Fixing the light switch, cleaning the apartment, doing a spring clean. What I have found most useful is just rediscovering my creative side that sometimes gets lost amongst the day to day noise, so I’ve been working on my play scripts, my novel, and spending lots of time in communication via various platforms with family and friends. I can also get food delivered, am able to go for walks, and exercise (just maintaining the sensible social distancing).
I am also still working, albeit from home for three days a week and in the office for two days. At the A.S.K we naturally had to cancel all our theatre programmes and offline education programs, so we decided to reach out online. Not to make a profit, but just to maintain our connection with our audiences – children and adults – and offer fun, inspiring ways to connect our shows to creativity in the home. We have done videos on puppet making, shadow theatre, magic boxes, storytelling, audio extracts, poems etc…the possibilities are endless. This also offers a great creative outlet personally, and a sense of genuine purpose of why we are all in the arts, especially art for children – to share our experiences and creativity, to soothe the anxieties of the youngest, to offer support. And it’s been returned to us with love and appreciation and has maintained our great relationships, with the audience, the schools and the children.
And, maybe it will spur you on to create your own content to share from Bigfooters (if they have the time, health and desire to do so) to all the wonderful schools and kids who you see and work with – believe me, they will appreciate it, and remember you for it.
Light at the end of the tunnel:
Things are beginning to return to normality here in Shanghai. People are slowly but surely returning to work, going back to offices, maintaining a sense of awareness, taking necessary precautions. More people are walking the streets, more cars are back on the roads. People are still temperature checked at buildings before they enter, restaurants are beginning to open more and more. I say this as an encouragement to all of you. Things will get better and improve, and as long as we all do what’s in the best interests of the whole society we can get through this together.
I personally, and everyone here at A.S.K, wish you all the love and best wishes. Take care of yourselves, and each other. This situation is difficult, but it has the potential to bring out the best in everyone, and show the younger generation that we can tackle any situation with compassion, empathy, love, creativity and teamwork. If anyone wants to talk by email, WhatsApp, Skype or Facebook all of my details are below and I’d be happy to share experiences, thoughts, advice or just have a chat.
Creation Academy Manager (and still a Bigfoot family member), A.S.K (Art Space for Kids), Shanghai, China