This week Fiona Lindsay ruminates over New Year’s resolutions.
So here we are at the beginning of a new year –a time of hope and new resolve. Normally I’m full of them, resolutions, but this year I’ve unshackled myself from the burden of having to achieve what sometimes is unachievable and not made any at all. Is this unwise I wonder? Or will I be able to go through the year with less inner turmoil about what I’m not doing, to better the lives of others and my own.
Last week, in that odd time between Christmas and New Year, I landed upon a TV programme with the scary title I know how much you weighed last year! The show charts the journey of a group of overweight young people as they are put through their paces, in an attempt to re-educate their minds and bodies and become healthier.
This made compelling viewing. The filming managed to capture intimate moments revealing the fragility of the young people in a respectful way and illuminating the massive psychological obstacles that must be overcome.
Over the eight weeks of the ‘camp’ they try to exercise more, try to eat less and we see lives begin to change. However the biggest change I observed wasn’t from this, but from getting themselves ready for the end of programme talent show. Singing, dancing, comedy, sketches and moments of theatre were harnessed by a previously unlikely group of performers.
It was joyous to watch the group shed their layers of defensive skin and find imagination and enthusiasm underneath. The hunger for food was replaced by the need to be nourished by joining in, being part of a group that was making something together and the group was fat in self esteem and confidence.
The talent show was an addition to the camp schedule, but it felt that so much was gained from it - without force or unpleasant effort. Helping people to change is fraught with difficulty and made a little easier if we do it collectively. Theatre and performance is brilliant for this.
This week, Samantha Lane, former head of the Almeida’s Learning and Participation team, discusses the value that participating can bring and the positive knock on effects. It’s inspiring stuff and made me re-claim a resolution from my room 101: Join in with others, participate more - ironically not that easy, for a lot of people in the arts.
So, one week in I’ve already broken my no resolutions resolution. Good luck with all of yours.
Happy New Year.
Today we publish the transcript of our interviews with Samantha Lane.