Artist-Led Imaginative Play: Thoughts from Creative Resident Myra Loke

These few weeks have been a journey of unlearning and relearning. When I was offered the Creative Residency at Woods in the Books, I was excited because it is a great opportunity to test out ideas that I have for young children. However, the first step was difficult.

Imaginative Play: Will You Be My Friend?

The first thought that came into mind is to create a play experience. It took a while for me, Shannon, and Mike to come out with the right phrase for what I intend to do. I have also been struggling to explain or express what I mean by a 'play experience'. I’m not good with words (as you will soon find out). Hence, I choose to engage with young children with my body, my expressions, the sounds I make. I enjoy playing with young children and it is usually through play that we learn how to establish connections, understand social rules, and practice values that are taught to us. Therefore, my first approach was to use play to create an experience that is inspired by books.

So I guess the question should be, 'What is a play experience?' I am also learning this as I go along. I shall first start by taking the two words apart, 'play' and 'experience'. I particularly love the discussion around 'Play' in this article. And 'Experience', from the Cambridge English Dictionary, is the process of getting knowledge or skill from doing, seeing, or feeling things.

Imaginative Play: Bumpy Bum

One important point that I aim to achieve through the creative residency is the first point the article raised: Play is self-chosen and self-directed. As a creator, I create stories, scenes, scenarios that provide time and space for the audience (children and parents) to imagine, play, and see their creation come to life. When they propose an idea, I will take it on using my body to show how their description can help to mould a character. Or in some cases, when the child choose to not express via words but through their bodies, I will try to interpret and accept the proposal made by the child. I hope that through the programmes, parents and adults see the value and importance of accepting the proposals made by the children.

Imaginative Play: Bloop!

This residency came at a time when I had many questions and doubts about the performances that I create. Do the children really want to see what I’m presenting? Am I just creating art for art sake? With these fears, I embark on the journey to create programmes that I feel good doing. It reminded me that growing up, we tend to forget the innocence of play, the joy of being bored, the importance of connections. I have learnt a lot through 'playing' with the children; seeing, hearing and feeling how they view the world and interpret stimulus, which in turn become shared memories between the both of us, and become new experiences and data for our own development. Play is not for just the child, but also the adult. I will remember that and I hope the adults and parents I met can remember that as well.

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