Posted by Pam Murphy
Looma Act-Belong-Commit Outreach trip 13-18 July 2014
Theatre Kimberley’s Act-Belong-Commit Outreach Program at Looma took place in the second week of the July school holidays. Head Trainer Kate Reid and circus artists Franque, Rowan and Georgia, as well as me and two teenage helpers Kai and Oliver, drove down on Sunday. We deposited our belongings at the Youth Centre where we were staying and went to the school to put up the rigging for the circus training commencing the next day. Because it was school holidays we were a little apprehensive about the number of children who might be around. But when we walked over to the school it was pleasing to see many kids playing basketball. Kate handed out hula hoops and we chatted about the circus training for the week. The children’s enthusiasm was clear when they took the hoops onto the grass and played with them until we finished with the rigging.
There was no storage space for our circus equipment so we packed it up on the back of the utes each night. Every morning we needed to drive around the community to get to the school and it was an excellent way to let the kids know that circus training would begin soon. They came in droves, and most stayed for the entire day. There was a funeral in the community one morning so we respectfully withheld training until that afternoon when it was finished. A few new little faces came then, they obviously had travelled to Looma for the funeral. On the last day circus training was in the morning as usual, but with the added excitement of plans for a small show and tell of both participants and artists after lunch. The kids had great fun watching each other perform and seeing the trainers strut their stuff.
The Act-Belong-Commit Outreach Program was very well received in Looma. In fact, in talking with the kids about their experiences, they didn’t want to see us go. I spoke to several parents and staff at the community office as well, and they were all happy for the kids to have something positive and exciting to do during the school holidays. As Theatre Kimberley’s Act-Belong-Commit Outreach Programs are normally done during school, with teaching staff supervising and strict timetables, Looma was a different experience because it was the school holidays and only trainers and children were in attendance. It was more difficult in some ways, for example, with a combination of ages all day and no extra supervision. But it was also more organic which was a nice variance because the children had more free play and less structure.