Belgrade Theatre and Underground Lights participants showcase their lockdown creativity
With lockdown rules restricting indoor gatherings throughout the spring and summer, this year theatres have had to think outside the box to find ways of staying connected to their communities.
Moving activity online is a solution for some people, but not everyone can easily access things like Zoom or social media, and as a result, lockdown has been much more isolating for some people than for others.
Luckily, theatres are full of creative people, and not least the brilliant community participants and volunteers they work with. As such, it wasn’t long before Underground Lights Community Theatre member Hayley Harman had the brilliant idea of putting together “Creative Packs” that could be posted out to people, enabling them to join in with group activities, even if they were unable to get online.
Underground Lights Community Theatre members
To develop the project, Hayley worked with Underground Lights facilitator Beth Fiducia-Brookes, and to fund and deliver the packs, they then partnered with the Belgrade Theatre, Crisis, Arty Folks, Grapevine, With One Voice, Housing First, and Coventry City of Culture Trust.
Inside each pack were instructions and materials for creating masks at home, which could then be used in an optional Zoom workshop. There were also blank postcards to decorate, with the aim that the finished cards will be used as part of a major UK-wide project next year.
Among those who received the packs were members of the Belgrade’s Arts Gymnasium groups for over 50s, as well as members of Underground Lights Community Theatre, which works with people with experience of homelessness and mental ill health, and is supported by the Belgrade’s Springboard talent development programme.
At the end of the first lockdown, we gathered photos of some of the people involved in the project with the masks that they created. A few of them also showed us other projects they’d be working on during lockdown, from Rob’s homemade set model box, to Sue’s beautiful knitting. We hope that all their brilliant ideas can be an inspiration to anyone looking for things to keep them busy during the second lockdown this month.
“To avoid group members feeling isolated and experiencing a decline in their mental health, we were asked for our thoughts on how to keep activities going and keep connected. It struck me that maybe not everybody has materials at home to create art. I suggested making creative packs to send out to members, with a programme of activities and materials. The idea was a hit.”
Underground Lights member Tracy with her mask
Underground Lights Member Susan with her mask
Underground Lights member Rob with his mask
Underground Lights member Bengy caught up with some reading during lockdown
Dylan D Rabbit mask, created by Belgrade Arts Gym member Eric
“Dylan D Rabbit III was an Anglo-French TV character seen in the Magic Roundabout series. His career began in the mid-sixties, peaking around 1980. His personality was, to say the least, laid-back, sometimes to the point of catatonic and he would frequently fall asleep during conversations. Some reports suggested that he may have been using banned substances, but his producers always denied this, citing narcolepsy as the reason. His face was still a popular up to 1990 when the series was dropped, which seemed to be the end of his career. But with the start of the new century there came fresh hope, and in 2005 an American film was released, introducing him to a new generation of fans. Now in his 70s, he lives alone in Kingston Jamaica, separated from his four wives and many children. When asked about his long career he replied, "Well man, I don’t remember much of it. I was too busy living."”
Underground Lights member Becky wearing her mask
Underground Lights member Kate kept busy with her artwork
Underground Lights member Nikola got into knitting
Underground Lights member Malcolm got stuck in to some jigsaw puzzles
Underground Lights member Susan did lots of knitting, including this beautiful blanket