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Creating Character - Elders Company prepare for wellbeing symposium

Posted on 13 March 2019

With 2019 marking the Year of Wellbeing in Coventry and Warwickshire, there’s lots going on across the city and beyond to highlight the importance of mental and physical health and happiness for all of us.

Among the projects to have emerged as part of this initiative is a special symposium taking place at the Belgrade Theatre from Tuesday 14 until Saturday 18 May, titled Connectivity and Community – Celebrating with Over 50s. The five-day event will include performances of a production currently being devised by the Coventry Elders Company, who are now meeting regularly at the theatre to devise and rehearse the piece.

Following on from her previous blog introducing the project, Elders Company and Belgrade Arts Gym member Margaret Emerton is continuing to write about her experiences of taking part. Read on to find out more about what the company has been up to…

It has not been that long since the Elders Company was formed and already, with the help of Kim and Orla, we are beginning to find our characters, from where we don’t know: are they the figments of our imagination or characters from a favorite story or film?

We are asked to take ourselves, in character, back to the nursery school. Immediately a group of children race to play with the toys, to share, or squabble and maybe to cuddle the soft toys. They are totally unaware of the two children who sit alone, one child who has never been to school in this country , the other, a child longing to join in but who has not been accepted in the classroom.

The characters are now teenagers; the group of friends are chatting about their hopes for their futures as they start their final school year. Some are going to University to be nurses, vets and there is one that would like to be a farmer. Others are looking for jobs in shops and factories. The migrant child has found a friend to help and support her but is still not comfortable in a large group. The loner is now an angry, rebellious, disruptive pupil who just wants to leave the area.

These characters have become part of our lives and we continue to create more of their stories.

With time to reflect on the weeks of work, we realise how far we have come and how much more work will be needed before the performances in May.

And yet the thoughts remain of the loneliness and isolation felt by those children outside the group.

In 2019, this Year of Wellbeing, how can we reach out to the lonely and isolated in our communities?

We have found the benefits of meeting new people, forming friendships, learning new skills and having fun through the Belgrade Theatre’s Arts Gymnasium Programme and we want to show everyone there is so much more you can achieve with the help of friends.

Connectivity and Community: Celebrating with Over 50s takes place at the Belgrade Theatre 14-18 May. Check back for more information coming soon!