It’s spring, but not as we know it

Today is the spring equinox here in UK.  At last the long nights are over, the days will be longer than the nights from now on.  I am certainly stirring much earlier to the sound of the birds in the garden.

I love the equinoxes, and the solstices for that matter, I like these moments where we acknowledge the effects of the sun and nature on our lives.  Especially for this city dweller, whose exposure to nature is more limited.

The start of spring is a time of hope for me most years and today will not be different.  Without hope, this period of distance from others will be hard.  So my focus this morning is on all the good things.

We’ve been without physical Scouting for all of three days in the UK and yet there is virtual scouting happening already and I know many volunteers are putting plans in place to meet up online next week.  Work is moving apace to create activities young people can do at home, but still part of a group.  So much creativity and determination to keep communities together.

Choirs seem to be determined to keep going.  Gareth Malone is creating a virtual choir, a friend has invited me to Sofa Singers and my husband’s physical choir is working on how to move their weekly rehearsal online. 

I have long used Yoga With Adriene at home and now other teachers are moving that way, I have heard of a Tai Chi class being live streamed and have just signed up for a yoga nidra sound bath this weekend.

Online book groups are flourishing apparently and my own Facebook book group has spent the week discussing whatever we’re reading now and recommending books for the time we may have available for reading now.

My son recommended a programme for playing games together (not free), the RSC has made recordings of its productions available online.  There are museums you can visit virtually.  I am sure there will be so many other things we can do over the coming weeks.  For today as we start spring, the creativity and sense of community that is springing up is giving me lots of hope.

Refinding theatre

I enjoy going to the theatre.  I love the whole magic of a story coming to life in front of a live audience.  I find the relationship between actors on a stage and me as an observer tantalising.  I marvel at the craft of voice and movement coming together.  The way a group of people use a physical set fascinates me.  I am intrigued by the lighting and the music and the sound and props. Everything about theatre I love. There are few shows that I don’t enjoy. I may not enjoy everything about it, but I can just about always find something to fascinate and intrigue.

So why have I not been to the theatre much recently?  Strangely it has been a reaction to the offspring growing up.  I had a project going to lots of Shakespeare plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford with the eldest offspring (it was supposed to be both, but the youngest rebelled very quickly).  When I say lots of Shakespeare plays, I mean them all – the RSC committed to putting them all on over the years.

We were doing well, missed a couple due to life circumstances, but had seen pretty much everything so far.  Then the eldest was due to leave home.  And something clicked in my brain.  My excitement at booking a whole season as soon as it was released disappeared.  I could not make myself book the winter season in advance, and then not even during the season.  The mailings and emails about the summer season were ignored. 

Friends have told me I have missed some good productions, but somehow the mojo has gone.  But last night reignited that a bit with a good production of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin at The Rep in Birmingham.  Theatre takes me out of myself, makes me look at a bigger picture, allows my brain to process life.   It also gives me a tiny teeny little window into what some women suffer from hugely – empty nest syndrome.  This is literally the only symptom of it I have experienced. 

So I am going to embrace this other, slightly random, lesson that theatre teaches and start booking some RSC tickets for when the offspring is home this summer. And get myself to The Rep more often – what a superb theatre that is.

Resting in the theatre

It is one of those weeks where there is a lot happening, more by coincidence than design.  The challenge is to recognise that some of what we have a tendency to call busy is relaxing and energising.  Theatre being the best example of that for me.  I love the theatre, I love the whole experience of watching a live performance along with other people.  I love the sets, costumes, lighting, music.  I am fascinated by the actors’ ability to remember lines, to be in the right spot at the right time. It is magical, in a way that TV or cinema rarely are for me.

There is still a tendency to call it ‘busy’ though.  You have to be at the theatre at a set time, the tickets have to be bought in advance, you have no choice as to when the play ends.  All of those things have correlations with a meeting I suppose. But the huge difference is I am always energised by the theatre – an effect that lasts into the next day.

Last night I saw This Houseat The Rep with friends, so there was a chance to discuss it afterwards which is always fun.  Chatting about and dissecting the play is all part of the enjoyment for me.  Reliving any experience through speaking, writing, or thinking about an experience makes it more impactful, so it is a good exercise, but it’s worth paying attention to reliving the good experiences more than the bad.   I enjoy the anticipation as well, which is what makes the logistics of a theatre trip a totally different experience than attending a meeting.  But maybe I need to try and make the meeting experience more like a theatre trip, now that would improve the quality of life.

PS I am not a theatre reviewer, for that I recommend Love A Good Play, excellent short blogs on each play that an avid theatre-goer sees.  Not that I can find her review for This House, which I am sure she saw in its time at The National Theatre.

the_rep_exteriors_009
Photo of Birmingham Rep from birmingham-rep.co.uk