Play Diary: Cinematic Cardboard

Welcome to the first in a series of “Play Diaries” I shall be writing and sharing on this site. I do many, many things, but my favourite is being a playworker at The Yard Adventure centre in Edinburgh. The Yard is a fantastic and wonderful place;  primarily it’s a play service for young disabled people and/or young people with additional needs. We also run a public opening session every Sunday which i’m involved in the planning and running of. Here expect to find many messy, surreal and playful tales from the Yard and beyond! 

 

 

The life of a cardboard creation is difficult to predict. If something I make is still kicking about after a week or so and looking anything like how it started I’m not impressed. I’m not one for sentimentality or preciousness about the things I make, I want each cardboard, duct-taped, painted and glittered creation to go to hell and back again. Anything I add to the play environment is simply a starting point; a nudge for a kid with a paintbrush, an idea, a joke or a creative destructive streak, to pick up and run with. So i’m happy to say these cardboard cameras didn’t last the week.

On Sunday I wondered about an incredibly busy playground dressed in a long black coat, baseball cap and bow tie, a silent but purposeful Spielberg-Keaton mash-up (at least in my rather niche imagination.) I carried two cardboard cameras, one more modern attempt with a large tube to use as a handle and one 1920’s style box camera on a dodgy bamboo cane tripod. Several times I’d set up and start to ‘film’ scenes or action shots. Something really great about this tact was all the different ways kids could get involved. They could watch the scene from a distance, simply enjoying it for what is was, maybe it would spark an idea for their own play. They could step in front of the camera and become performers or they could come ask me what I was doing and become directors, idea makers and set creators. All these things started to happen as it became less my play and more theirs.

Later in the week at an evening teen club they were strapped to trikes and bikes and zoomed around the playground, first as speed cameras and then as news cameras. A team assembled with a cameraman and presenter as interviews were conducted and vital footage shot. Watching this take place it was wonderful to see other kids drifting in and out of the play as it was carried forward by the core couple of kids/news team. Eventually this turned into a junk modelling session as everyone wanted to make their own cameras, and had ideas on how to improve on mine (moving parts of course!).

Its interesting to me that had I been walking around that Sunday with a real film camera the play may have looked very different. Not less or bad, just different. I feel that the temporary and imaginative nature of the cardboard cameras allowed for self-consciousness to dissipate and silliness to flourish. And what more could a play worker want?

 

Check out my workplace The Yard and find out a bit more about what we do. It’s a fantastic organisation and place! Or find us on Facebook here!

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A Playful Manifesto #1

Within any finite set of criteria there exist infinite ways of being.

In play we discover these, play is a space where we explore our possible selves, and how we relate to our environment and other people.

We learn to construct space for ourselves, we build, we destroy, we rebuild. Again and again and again. As we do this we start to see what our niche might look like. That space we can create to exist true and content. A way to move through the world.

Playing is a radical act.

We live in a society where our value is so often defined by what we ‘produce’ or ‘contribute’. Play is always a process and never driven by aims, or objectives, efficiency or products. So to give ourselves the permission to play we must recognise the inherent value we carry as individuals. A value that is not linked to what we say or do but simply exists. And so; play is an act of compassion, nurture and permission.

When we play we close the gap between “what we are trying to do” and “how we are doing it”. The gap which frustrates us, causes us to compromise, to stretch and bend in ways that feel not quite right. In play we are perhaps our most authentic selves.

A playful life is one that moves away from seeking happiness and towards experiencing joy.

Play is messy, risky and fun.

Play is colour, light and sound.

Play is taking space, creating space, sharing space

Play is playing chicken with your boundaries and fears.

Play is being with nature

Play is free but not always easy

Play is yours

and mine

and ours