OV Opinions – thinking differently

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‘I don’t want my thoughts to die with me, I want to have done something. I’m not interested in power, or piles of money. I want to leave something behind. I want to make a positive contribution ― know that my life has meaning’

Temple Grandin

Front Line Facilitators at The Old Vic helped me to build my confidence at a turning point in my life when I was at a personal low and helped me to feel integrated into the world again. I made new friends, visited the theatre, worked with incredible practitioners and laughed so much that my sides ached. I gained confidence at a turning point in my life and opened my eyes to the possibility of having a career in an area where my creativity would be embraced and my life experience could be used to help others. As a mixed race autistic woman I began to feel more integrated into the world.

‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

Martin Luther King

A lot can happen in the space of a year. Recent events and lockdown have brought so much uncertainty and sadness, and yet also sparked some flickers of real positivity. We’ve seen the earth begin to heal and humanity reaching out to connect bringing us together as a community on many levels. So many people have been thrown into a new world of innovation and creative thinking.I have found myself routing for the possibility of positive change and a more unified society. In such a fast paced world it’s easy to forget the richness that comes from simple living, and for me having life stripped back and slowed down has given me a great opportunity to reassess and reflect on what’s important to me, going forward.

‘Nothing can dim the light which shines from within’

Maya Angelou

Last year I wrote an article on my experience of completing the Front Line Facilitators course here at The Old Vic. It was one of the highlights of 2019 for me. I want 2020 to be all about putting the things I have learned into action. I wrote in my last article that I hoped to use my experience to benefit others. I know what it feels like to be marginalised in society, but the arts have given me an avenue in which to express myself and feel valued.

‘The arts give us our identity as a community; they also draw new people, fresh visions, and renewable economic opportunity to our community’

Gavin Newsom

Irrespective of our colour, creed or social status we’ve all had to close our doors to the world as we knew it for a short time. Conversely, new doors of real hope and light have opened. Without the distractions of everyday life the wounds of separation and inequality that underlie the infrastructure of our society have been highlighted with an acutely focused lense. The possibility and demand for a more connected and unified society has emerged and the question on many people’s minds is ‘how do we go forward in a way that will make future generations proud to be human?’

Take the Lead

Working on Take The Lead was a really uplifting experience. It equipped 15―18 year olds from all backgrounds with the core skills beneficial to their understanding of future possibilities in the arts. It felt like a real lead into a more diversified and accepting workplace which unfortunately was not available to me at that young age. For me creativity and healing are inextricably intertwined and it saddens me that many people, particularly from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, are not afforded the privilege of experiencing such a rich culture. As an actor I love the inclusivity visible on the stages at The old Vic and I’ve been so grateful for the opportunities that have been made available to me to reach toward my full potential.

‘In order to change an existing imagined order, we must first believe in an alternative imagined order’

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

I have been drawn to theatre because it is a launching ground for people to enquire and challenge the status quo. It is such a powerful tool that can educate people and help them to analyse and understand their current condition. There is a way to go before the industry is fully representative of the society in which we live but it felt brilliant to be a part of it. Theatre has the power to create positive social change by highlighting and giving its audience the opportunity to examine dominant ideologies and narratives through story. Creativity is at the heart of humanity and yet the arts are still considered a second to more traditional subjects due to a lack of empirical evidence that demonstrates its educational value. I recently helped to facilitate Work Experience for ages 16―18 year olds. They were tasked to take on challenges from different departments at The Old Vic giving insight into how a busy producing theatre operates. It culminated in them planning and running their own event and they absolutely nailed it!

‘If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that’

Michelle Obama

The arts have had such a transformative effect in my personal journey. I went through school feeling totally on the outside and my creative abilities went unnoticed in a system that measured intellect on the basis of being able to conform to standardised tests. Within this model I was doomed to constant failure and ridicule. Hopefully, society is beginning to awaken to the value of those who can think outside outside the box. Many are now questioning why things that don’t seem to work are still being perpetuated, and recognising that those with the ability to think differently are needed now more than ever. I’m excited for the role creativity will play in the shaping of new ideas and new models that will fit the changing world we are living in.

‘Research on creativity and innovation has been consistent in showing the value of exposing individuals to experiences with multiple perspectives and worldviews. It is the combination of these various perspectives in novel ways that result in new ideas “popping up”’

Tendayi Viki, Forbes

I’m so thankful to Euan, Naomi, Hannah and Kate of The Old Vic’s Education & Community team for the support they have shown me and I hope to continue helping others in the same way.

Lana Rathbone

OV Opinions is a twice monthly thought piece from The Old Vic’s Talent and Education & Community programmes.