louise@bouncetheatre.com

About Louise Pendry

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So far Louise Pendry has created 7 blog entries.

SCAR CAST ANNOUNCED

We are super excited to have cast for our new piece of theatre SCAR.

SCAR is set outside a fictional A+E.  Four young people take a break in the fresh air outside A&E. Time ticks on as they wait for news of their best friends. Days turns to night and night to day as they try to come to terms with the repercussions of accidents and emergencies. 

Harriet Ditmore, Charlie Tantum, Henry Mendoza and Hayley Konadu join Bounce to bring the piece to life. The play tackles how we deal with our physical and mental health. Scar has been written by Louise Pendry with Anstee Bridge Students. Cementing a year of learning around the NHS, students worked with Louise as dramaturgs on the script. Using a loosely written script, the students advised on language, discussed their own NHS experiences and applied some of their learning to making the work.

It will now be bought to life in a schools tour and end at the National Archive on the eve of the 71st birthday of the NHS.

Happy to Chat

Since I am part of Happy to Chat I helped my Nan at home because she is disabled and I saw my Grandad’s ashes, I felt sad but also happy because I spoke to my Nan about him. I felt happy I helped my Nan and chatted to her about my Grandad.” Participant aged 9

 

About Happy to Chat

Happy to Chat is a collection of workshops and projects that celebrate the importance of good conversation. We tackle subjects as diverse as loneliness through to domestic violence. Participants engage in creative workshops to explore the theme. Artists lead the sessions with youth coaches to ensure participants are able to practically apply the workshop content into their everyday life. Happy to Chat is part of Creativity Plus+. This is a creative learning pedagogy fusing arts with life coaching.  The workshops bring people together to develop new skills, care for their emotional well-being and celebrate the power of simple actions like being kind. Created by Bounce and Silverlining Coaching with the inherent belief that being creative is good for you

 

“I have used happy to chat skills outside of school, on a family trip over half term.”

 

Happy to Chat at Beavers Primary School

Over 8 weeks an artist and coach worked with 90 children in Year 4 to identify the importance of being happy to chat. Amongst other things, children were encourage to think about their positive attributes and value to their immediate class community. Working in groups of three, they helped each other to create positive affirmations by identifying what they liked about each other. By six weeks, 50% of the group said they feel more confident to chat to new people since starting this project60% of the group said they enjoyed chatting more since doing this project

 

“Since I leant about happy to chat I play better with my little brother and chat to him more.”

 

Outcomes as identified by the children

  • This project helped me to talk more to my friends
  • The project helped me and my group to be more sociable
  • The project has been helpful as it helped me in Science when I had to do a presentation
  • This project lets us experience other people’s feelings

Celebrating Mums

Just under a year ago, I had a conversation with Natalie Rumbol about how she could help start new projects. She was volunteering at Anstee Bridge and wanted to do more. Both mothers, with children under two to look after, we had a really honest conversation about the highs and lows of motherhood. We started to share ideas about a project for mums in the area who might not access typical services. The idea for a project for mums rather than children was born and successfully piloted thanks to a small grant from Kingston Council.

The pilot was so successful, Natalie told me she was going to start a business off the back of it. It was going to be based on sewing. I said great & suggested she could teach children’s classes. She told me she had to learn to sew first. A few months on, we secured funding for the project for another year. Natalie has already bought a sewing machine and just had her first exhibition of work at Kingston Library as part of the Spine Festival. She and two of the other mums on the project have conceived Sewn Up as their business.

There lies everything I love about being able to run Bounce. The rest of these words are Natalies. . .

I think everyone should know basic sewing skills. Sewing is not only exciting and creative. It can be useful in many ways. Sewing makes me feel adventurous. There is loads of different things to learn!

Us Sewn Up girls are going to be focusing on learning new skills & working towards managing events. We will start by organising small events to raise money for charities. We would also like to teach as much as we learn to the younger generation! One of our main aims is to remove as much plastic from kids stuff and remake it with fabric!

In our library exhibition, we up cycled our children’s old clothes into a Sewing Tree, marking our adventures as mothers. To have an exhibition in the library makes me so proud. It might not be a big achievement to others but for me having someone display something I created is a huge achievement!

The Mum Plus+ project has had a massive impact on my life! It is inspiring & motivational- there is such a positive vibe within the programme. If I hadn’t started Mums Plus+, I would be volunteering at Anstee Bridge one day a week. The other days would be lounging around looking for something to do. Now, I volunteer one day and attend Mums Plus+ one day. In any spare time I’m being creative or setting new goals to achieve. Our life coach has helped change our perspective and our outlook on various things- giving us an extra push to achieve. We are provided with a support network on the days the programme does not run, which is extremely beneficial to our independent lives.

When we spoke and decided to start this group our aim was to help and provide mums with something that wasn’t necessarily offered, something unique to help give a little motivation and support to other mums in the same position as myself. There’s still lots you can do and achieve after having kids and this project proves it! Our kids will grow up to see the success the group provided us with in future years- when we are making them proud!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond theatre

I was going to write a blog about all the nice things that are happening in our current project,  Our Health Your Hands. It is an exciting collaboration between Bounce, Anstee Bridge and Its Not Your Birthday But…

The project marks eight years of collaboration between Bounce & Anstee. We are proud to be involved with an innovative programme that is in essence using principals of co-creation and social prescription with young people.

Our Health Your Hands celebrates 70 years of the NHS and Kingston Hospital. Through the project young people are leading the way in researching the history of the hospital. There have already been eight workshops at the National Archives and Kingston Hospital. They have met countless people through a number of community tea parties, bringing in local people to talk about their NHS experiences. They are currently working with a visual artist and musician to document their thoughts on their learning.

Amid thinking about all these nice things, I watched the BBC Two documentary School, driving home the incredible pressures schools are under to deliver our education system. 

It made me instead appreciate the financial fragility of projects such as ours against this national picture.

Take Anstee for instance. It is an alternative learning programme, working with young people facing challenging circumstances impacting on their emotional well-being. 

Entwined within Anstee, is the principal that confidence can be built through creativity. It makes a lot of sense. There is SO much research into the benefits of the arts and creative practices on mental health. A quick google will give you more examples than I could summarise in this short blog. Anstee has for 10 years essentially socially prescribed the arts to improve the mental health of hundreds of vulnerable young people.

In a time where there are pressing financial pressures on education, mental health and arts services, it sometimes feels like a luxury to be involved in this sort of work. It shouldn’t be but frankly it becomes a luxury because you feel lucky to do it.

Naturally, you are often asked to justify it. “What’s the point?” “What’s the value?”  “Is it going to make great art?” “What are they learning?”

From my experience at Anstee, some are genuinely just learning to stay alive. An English G.C.S.E is a million miles away from where your headspace is if you’ve never told anyone about experiencing an assault…

Over the years I have worked there the programme has nurtured young people who have been abused, neglected, assaulted or developed an addiction. Some have parents in prison, are carers to parents. Others have been bullied or are dealing with effects of living in relative poverty.

Beaten down by life before they are legally entitled to vote, they are nurtured for one day a week to have the courage to believe in themselves. Some will make leaps and bounds, others will take just a tiny enough step to get them through their G.C.S.Es and into the next stage of life.

We see it in the small contribution we make. Young people enter with their eyes to the ground. They might challenge you with their behaviour or frustrate you with their reluctance to participate. However by the end of the project they might look you in the eye, smile or sometimes laugh. You recognise that the tea party gave them an opportunity to make eye contact and talk to a person ahead of their college interviews. The theatre show allowed them to vocalise thoughts they don’t know how to about their life experiences. The sewing activity gave them a release that mellows their attitude. 

These are the things that draw you back year after year. It’s more than a theatre production. It’s the life skills inherent in the arts. The ability to find something mindful to help you manage your emotions. The platform to have a conversation with someone you thought wouldn’t listen to you. The responsibility of managing money when you have spent six years hating maths, so switched off.

This creative engagement and nurturing from the inspiring programme leaders makes them believe that underneath everything, there are people and perhaps even a community that care about them. Sometimes it’s genuinely been the difference between life and death. 

When you consider the value of funding programmes like Anstee, I think you have to ask yourself more, what is the value of not having them.

Louise

Bounce and our wellness work

This Autumn, I am proud to launch a whole new stream of work for Bounce, dedicated to health and wellness.

The decision was born out of learning from our 2017 programme Creativity Matters. We were able to see first hand the intrinsic value of creativity on children and young people’s wellness. 

Take for instance, our Creative Club.

It began  it’s life as 2 seperate classes that were merged together by chance to offer creative drama and dance classes. It was during these classes that I began to notice the impact that prescribed creative mediums can have upon children within a group. Putting on a performance can be wonderful and very rewarding. It can also be hard and stressful work for both participants and practitioners and it was during one of these times that I began to question the purpose of these ‘creative’ activities.

Please do not misunderstand me, I can see happy faces taking drama, dance, music etc classes all over the land and am by not means suggesting that they do not have tremendous value for those who have passion for them. I suppose what I’m talking about is the purpose for ‘Joe Public’ the child who loves today’s painting experience but doesn’t want to do art every week, or laps up the confidence earned playing drama games but has no desire to stand on stage and perform. Those who don’t fit in a creative category per say but have so much to gain from varied participation, those who enjoy the feeling of just being there and taking part than the outcome… those, like me.

And so perhaps it was fulfilling a selfish need when we began to expand our range of activities at the Creative Clubs and noticed that it was not ‘drama’ or ‘dance’ that provoked positive energy in participants but in fact the action of taking part. We started to look at creativity as a feeling rather than an action and quite frankly haven’t looked back.

Today our Creative Club sessions are almost entirely process driven with outcomes being measured in ‘well being’. Our activities range from singing, to sewing, random acts of cupcake kindness to community murals and clean ups. We’ve noticed the difference that  regular relaxation, creativity and social interactions make on the individual and do our best to implement these simple routines throughout our Well-being work. Differences such as raised self esteem, positive thoughts, community engagement, communication and self care to name but a few.

Granted, it’s become more more difficult to package our work but I’m ok with this. Just like I’m ok with kids jokes that make no sense and pipe cleaners being space ninja robots,  because it’s experimenting, learning, building kindness, strength and knowledge in a safe environment which to my mind is a recipe for some very good memory making.

So, our wellness projects will focus on not putting a label on creativity, or trying to box it up. Instead, participants will have an opportunity to do whatever feels good for them. They follow principals central to wellness such as exercise, humour, love and diet. Participants are given an opportunity to explore the themes in a range of crafts, celebrations, events and activities.

I believe painting, drawing and crafting with music on is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. It is important that we ask people how they are and really listen to the answers. By being creative together, we are building networks, new relationships and communities. Spending time in our creative mind helps lighten some of the heavy feelings that can become all to normal to carry around.” A sentiment echoed by one of our summer holiday participants “It feels like it fills my heart when I’m creative.”

Rachel

 

As part of our Comfort Season we are excited to be running the following wellness projects.  

Happy To Chat

Inspired by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, this project is bringing people together to chat and eat cake.

Creative Clubs 

Our creative clubs provide children with a time and a space to understand the potential of their own creativity.

Clubs will run in Heston & Kingston 

Big Holiday Projects

After three glorious years, we are proud to expand our Big Holiday projects throughout the year. Filling holidays with memory making, trips and adventures into different creative practices.

Mum Plus +

A unique project for mums and children. Combining storytelling with wellness coaching to empower new mums to build their confidence & define what their future holds. 

Starting in Kingston, Mum Plus+ will spread its wings to Heston!

 

Find out more. 

Comfort – About our new work for winter 2018

… Comfort blanket

… Comfort and joy …

Comfort Food …

This autumn, all of our work is themed around the idea of Comfort. We’re paying homage to the tiny acts of kindness that light up the dark. These range from celebrating small actions of self care through to the national treasure that is the NHS. 

The conversation started after our Creativity Matters projects began to come to an end. We knew after a year what we knew at the start – Creativity Matters. During the year, we were drawn more to the impact access to creativity has on hearts and minds than anything else. 

Due to the nature of the work we were making we had multiple conversations with children, young people and sometimes parents about mental health. Things that cropped up included coping with emotions after years of witnessing violence, the pressures of being a young carer, the impact of benefits, bereavement or generally feeling unsure if they could cope with G.C.S.E’s.

Increasingly for us, our role in making work is about understanding the broader benefits of creativity. It means making work with people that isn’t about theatre. Theatre has and will always be at our roots but each year we move further away from focusing on inviting people to come and make performance with us. Even more so this year, where we have programmed a strand of work solely about the benefits of feeling well through creativity.

As the world changes, technology evolves and politics divides us it’s impact can be felt in the non traditional spaces we work in. It seems even more crucial to make time for creativity. To not invite people to create with us to make theatre but to share their ideas – for themselves and for their communities. Excitingly, this approach has led to our first project created with a former participant. 

Mum Plus+ has emerged from working with Natalie, who was part of our work with Anstee Bridge. Together we have created a brand new project for young mums. It combines storytelling for children and parents with wellness coaching, in a partnership with Silver Linings Coaching and Consulting.  It’s aim is to give young mums a chance to meet in a space where they don’t feel intimidated. Also, an opportunity to consider the possibilities in balancing motherhood with ambitions to work, or study or travel still in the future. 

Alongside this we have Happy to Chat, creating a network of people in a community that come together to craft. We deliver our biggest ever creative learning project looking at 70 years of the NHS. We’ll make new theatre tackling loneliness from a young persons perspective and stories of comfort that get us through the hard times. 

It’s broad and its varied as each strand is personal to the people we are making stuff with. Yet they all celebrate the principals of comfort. It’s the comfort of meeting someone new, striking up a friendship, celebrating the people who have been there for you and being able to share feelings, ideas or opinions. Or its simply the comfort of good cake and conversation. 

Louise

#CreativityMatters

“You can be yourself.”

In September 2017, we set out a year of work that would allow us to discover why creativity matters to the people we work with. Our programme highlights included

  • Urban Stories
  • Emoji
  • Transforming Tales
  • Creative Clubs
  • Creative Spaces
  • Cranford Residency

We produced

  • One new piece of original theatre – Emoji
  • Mounted an exhibition around Loneliness in urban living at the Saatchi Gallery
  • Put an installation inspired by mental health and Hans Christian Anderson  into a local library
  • Regenerated a run down military welfare community room into a pop up cafe for creative arts
  • Hosted numerous sharings of work and joined community events across Hounslow.

We worked with 1674 people. A happy mix of children, young people and families. We created 73,000 opportunities for them to participate in sessions, projects and workshops. Over 30,000 people would have seen their work.

100% of participants asked said they felt more creative through the projects. 94.6 from one project alone identified had learnt something new from joining in.

Consistently, there was a theme that the benefits of creativity included interacting with others. The interactions ranged from the benefits of getting out of the house to the building of new friendships. An increased sense of well-being and happiness ran across many of our projects, in particular the Big Holiday project. Notably, in young people there was an increased sense of confidence. This was born out of trying something new or being in a different environment.

Creativity Matters to them because

  • they learnt how to work in a group
  • mix ideas
  • respect
  • design
  • write
  • make closer friends
  • how more than older people experience loneliness
  • to be more open
  • being around people isn’t something I should be afraid of
  • singing
  • drama
  • that my ideas have actually been heard
  • putting ideas into perspective

Over the year we have

  • given 128 children and young people an Arts Award
  • offered one young person volunteering work next year
  • helped realise the library as a space for culture and exhibition
  • put 7 young people into first time employment
  • Supported 8 parents to return to work or take up a new hobby
  • worked with a former participant to design a new project for Autumn
  • Launched an Arts and Wellness strand to our programme because of what we’ve learnt from our participants

There are so many reasons why creativity matters in the politically and economically fragile times we live in.

A child on our holiday project added to our evaluation ‘I like doing creative things. It feels like it fills my heart when I’m creative.” Wise words, as on that note, the question is not that it matters, more ‘What would we do without it?”. Creativity is joy, hope, change, conversation, imagination, ideas, potential and more. It is intrinsically linked to our wellness and sense of self.

In wellness, there is comfort- taking us neatly into our next programme of work.

Louise