Just before we went on holiday, Anna did Firefly Art's Play in a Week course. In just 24 hours across 4 days, her group of 14 children wrote, produced and rehearsed a 20 minute play. Then, on the Friday, they met with 2 other groups from West Lothian and all 3 plays were performed at Howden Park Centre in Livingston.
The 3 plays were all completely different. The Livingston group portrayed a young girl whose parents were going through a divorce. She found her friends' obsessions with boys, diet and clothes vacuous in comparison to her traumas and ran away, returning to give her mother support in the end. Linlithgow added a touch of the supernatural with some dramatic psychics helping to investigate the disappearance of local children. Anna's group, which had been based in Bathgate, covered the Second World War. Two modern day schoolchildren, wondering how to find something interesting about the war, listened as the librarian told stories which were enacted on stage by the others. It wasn't always historically accurate, but I liked the empathy that the play expressed with what people were going through - families being split up, the effects of rationing, children having to abide by the curfew and help observe the blackouts. Anna did her first ever solo singing performance at the end with one verse of "Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag".
She thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The skills that week developed are huge - from working in a team, to meeting deadlines, building confidence, encouraging creativity, organising a project - and all with total strangers. She gained much more in that week than the £30 that I paid out. I'm sure that the experience would have helped her cope calmly with the experience of a tv interview this week.
I had initially wanted to get her on Film in a Week, given that she's always making videos, but there were no places left by the time I'd found out about it. This involved a group of 20 or so children producing a 20 minute film which was also screened that night. They learned the technical side as well as developing the screenplay, which was about two rival tribes trying to find treasure chests and having to work together to do it.
Projects like this are really important for young people's development and they need to remain accessible. If we want the next generation to grow up competent and confident, then we can't allow public spending cuts to kill off opportunities like this for them, or confine them to being the privilege of the most affluent.