Teaching Artist · Little Geckos · Junior Geckos
What is your role as a Teaching Artist?
I see my role as a Teaching Artist for Gecko Ensembles as me being a safe and responsive facilitator and nurturer of the creative inner worlds of children. I consider my role as a ‘big person’ that can create a space of safety, inclusivity, curiosity and joy that surpasses the fears, worries or ‘Should do’ structures in a child’s mind- a space that unlocks their creativity and imaginations in a way that leaves them feeling excited about life and the world, in love with their own mind, and feeling capable to express using their body, voice, actions, movements, words and art work.
What was your first role as a Teaching Artist?
Facilitating Gecko Ensembles for Barking Gecko Theatre Company has been my first role as a Teaching Artist. Whilst I have always loved children and have volunteered for community events as a child carer, worked as an education assistant in schools and enrolled to study teaching at university, I had not had the pleasure of bringing teaching and the arts together as one until 2018. I was very fortunate to be put in touch with the Learning Manager, Hannah and Director, Luke, when I was an emerging artist looking for opportunities for experience in Perth. I shared with them that I have a passion to use the arts as a means for positive change amongst young people and have a lot of experience working with children, wondering if there were any opportunities to volunteer with Barking Gecko. And so began my journey of learning, assisting in various Gecko Ensembles and eventually facilitating my own ensembles. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and how it has and does facilitate my learning and own fulfilment.
Do you remember your first drama class or performance? What was it like and how did it feel?
I remember performing in the Bunbury Eisteddfod when I was 11 years old. I did a ‘character solo’ and performed “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” from the musical Annie. I wore a costume I had made myself from op-shop clothes, a red curly wig and big freckles painted all over my cheeks as I sang the tune with theatrical movements and expressions. I remember feeling very nervous and vulnerable being by myself on a stage with bright lights shining on me and an audience watching me. After singing for a little while I remember thinking “oh my gosh, I’m doing it” and by the end I felt proud and like I really could do anything I put my mind to. I think that’s when I first realised how it felt for my quirks, my naturally expressive face, my yearning to move and sing all the time, to not be ‘strange’ or ‘out of place’ but rather a super power and way of shining out all the good feelings I have in my heart and head.
What does a Gecko Ensemble class look like and what do you do?
For me, each Gecko Ensemble session can take its form and shape as it goes. As the teaching artist, I like to make it a responsive process in which the children are collaborators. Typically, it is guaranteed that there will be theatre games, movement, voice, sharing of imaginings, music, joy, team work, maybe some drawing or craft, and always positive energy. Other than this, sometimes the session evolves based on an ‘offering’ one of the ensemble members bring from their day or week, sometimes it’s a game we make up or a story someone tells, and from there, we fly in to magical worlds.
What do you think is special about the Gecko Ensemble program?
I think the Gecko Ensemble Program is unique because the framework through which it is run encourages the Teaching Artists to have agency, to respond to the personalities within their individual ensembles and avoid the rigidity often imparted prematurely on children who innately just want to explore, create and be themselves. I also think the program is special because it runs throughout WA which means that children across the state have access to a safe, enjoyable and healthy way to make new friends, find their inner voice, express their creativity and embrace the arts.
Any words of wisdom for families interested in Gecko Ensembles?
Every week I feel gratitude for the fact that, no matter what has happened in my day and where my head is at, I get to set up a space, take a moment to see and hear each child as they arrive, and then get transported in to their untainted worlds of childhood awe, wonderment, curiosity, imagination and creativity! - What a way to stay present, stay humble and stay joyful.
For further info feel free to touch base with our Creative Learning Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or (08) 6184 4905