In October North London Cares paired up with the Little Angel Theatre to run a five-week puppet making workshop. We invited older neighbours and volunteers to sign up and join the project to create puppets with one of the UK’s leading puppet theatres right here in one of our home boroughs, Islington.
Creating the North London Cares social clubs programme each month I’m used to throwing new things out there for our community network to experience, but committing to a five-week long puppet making workshop was something that I was really nervous about. I’d certainly never made a puppet from scratch before (truth be told, until these sessions, I was terrified of them!), so how were our neighbours going to respond? As soon as I set foot in the Little Angel Theatre way back in August I knew it was going to be great, but I didn’t realise just how magical it would be.
Over the course of five-weeks older neighbours paired up with volunteers every Monday evening. Starting off with a block of foam, they took to it with an electric bread knife, hot glue, pins, glitter, felt, ping-pong balls and feathers. Week after week as the friendships between neighbours, older and younger grew, the puppets came to life and their personalities started to come alive. What was so brilliant was watching people I’ve known for months, find a whole new voice through their puppets. Older neighbours like Annabella, who is always incredibly willing to get stuck in, but quiet, now had her puppet Fred. The friendships between younger and older neighbours grew over the weeks, and the puppets provided animation and sparkle for the room to come alive every Monday.
Speaking to older neighbour Rosie after week three, she told me: “I came in such a bad mood, then I met Emily and we got working on our puppet together again. We had such a laugh and I’ve shaken it off, it is such a fantastic club, I’ve has a blast!”
It was so beautiful to see neighbours who had never met before coming together and communicating through their puppets, become friends and sharing tips over what colour felt would make better hair, or is this too much glitter? What was so amazing was how everyone started with exactly the same piece of foam, and each pair create something, no, someone so unique by week five. And during the process the whole group was so warm and encouraging – no one had ever built a puppet before and now our older neighbours and volunteers had the confidence and creativity that allowed for a whole new way of communication and sharing stories.
“Nothing could be so fun! Socialising happens so naturally here, I can’t wait till next time” – older neighbour Wendy.
Posted by Indie Shergill on Monday 19th December 2016
Indie is NLC's Head of Programmes