Guest Post from Carla Henry, Drama Practitioner and Actress

21 Nov

I remember my very first experience of theatre as a very young child at primary school.

Going on a school trip to a very big space. I was going to listen to a special story, to be taken on a journey. As I walked into this giant space, I was given a small sweet by a lady dressed in a costume, she could have been from another world!  She asked me; would I like to go inside the belly of a whale?  I ate the sweet quickly, just in case she changed her mind! Then I walked through the door, and I was there, in a magical world!  Although, the sweet may have had lots to do with it, I remember the sensory experience of believing in this magical world, this space that could have been anything or anywhere, a space where I could be anyone, a magical space, a space for me, to imagine, play and explore.

My name is Carla Henry. It is an absolute privilege and pure joy to have the opportunity to devise, create and facilitate imaginative play through the world of Drama and Theatre and all it has to offer. To take an object, painting or sound and devise a story based session as an interactive experience for our young friends.

Within a session a child is allowed to improvise and explore. I see myself as facilitator, making several offerings of story telling using verbal and non verbal communication. Storytelling is steeped within my culture, a story was always told in my home, words that empowered, excited and encouraged me. Story for me is life!. Bringing stories to life for 0-2 yrs has been such an exciting journey. It is a magical and encouraging experience when I catch a glimpse of a parent/carer smiling as they watch their precious baby smile, babble and interact.

I strongly believe that story, drama and theatre had such an impact on my life. Then the birth of my son brought with it the beginnings of my practice with babies and young children. I started attending sessions with my baby son, he never asked to go anywhere, but he let me know where he didn’t want to be. I watched him, responded to him and knew that I wanted to create something which would inspire him. Drama 4 Tots was born. I have been devising and running sessions for the past two years, my practice is always growing and exploring new ways to facilitate, fun, creative and inspiring play. I am very fortunate to have the support and input of inspirational Primary school teacher Laura Miley.

My son Semi Ray was not interested in sitting still and listening to a story, so I brought the story alive, out of a box (literally) gave him and others an interactive story experience and then told them that stories also live in books! Now he can’t put books down, acting out the characters and creating his own world, it’s magical.

Using my experience as an actress and my degree in Devised Theatre I created Drama 4 Tots.  Each story within the session is original.  I use sound, movement, live instruments, props and lots of sensory materials to create a space for exploration with the emphasis on FUN! I have been greatly inspired by the works of Pie Corbett and Oliy Cart.

Most recently I was invited to collaborate with Sam Hull (a wonderful visual artist) on a project:  Story Spaces (Not a box).  This was a partnership between Manchester Art Gallery, the Royal Exchange and Action For Children Foundations Project.  Funded by Manchester City Council’s Cultural Strategy for developing cultural opportunities for North Manchester residents.  I was then commissioned by Manchester Art Gallery to work as the Drama Practitioner on their Far Far Away project.  I devised a piece of work called The Sad Stem using the Pre-Raphaelites painting Ophella (1852 Arthur Hughes) as my inspiration to develop a interactive session for 0-5’s. At the beginning of this year myself and Heather Varley created Little Jammers, bringing the magic of singing and musical fun with live guitar and flute to babies and young children.

All children should have the opportunity to be exposed to and access cultural institutions in a truly inclusive way.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Nelson Mandela

I feel CultureBaby is a fantastic opportunity to share practise, ideas and thoughts. This is such an exciting time to be working with 0-2’s and I am really looking forward to Wednesday.

See you there!

Carla

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