RAT's shows explore topics that often get neglected by theatre and other media, from the perspectives of trauma survivors whose voices are otherwise often silenced, using artistic methods that make it possible to probe complex and challenging emotions and circumstances that often are too difficult to shoulder. They are needed by many, whether survivors or allies or those seeking to understand, and the wait has been long. We want to make sure our work is as accessible to all as it can be, particularly to those most at risk of losing their connections to support and reflective spaces.
Having children, we are often told, is one of the greatest joys there is. It is also one of the greatest responsibilities there is. It can reframe how we view ourselves, how others view us, how we relate to the world around us. For those of us living with trauma, it can motivate us and support our healing journeys, but can also evoke vulnerabilities, leave us with less time to care for our own needs, make it harder for us to access opportunities for collective support and reflection.
At RAT, we firmly believe nobody should have to choose between the joys of parenthood, and continued access to live art and collective spaces of mature feeling and reflection. We also firmly believe that children are capable of more nuanced responses to complex themes than they often get the opportunity to express, and that the opportunity to do so can equip them with the confidence and emotional resilience better to avoid or withstand traumatic experiences. When parents and their children are able to find a language for these discussions in which they can challenge each other equally, the bond between parent and child in response to adversity is so powerful.
That's why, with I, Lord, we are trialing a parallel children's show that 5-11 year old children of the main show's audience members can attend for free. No need to fork out for childcare. No need to worry about aligning pick-up and drop-off times. No need to feel guilty about making time to go to something that will benefit you, but not your child. We won't just take care of your child while you're watching the show and then processing it afterwards; we'll introduce them to the themes you're exploring in the main show, but in age-appropriate ways, through discussion, art and fun.
The main show presents many characters with different attitudes to and relationships with organised religion: none of them is wrong or right. The children's show takes two of those characters, and puts them in a different context: they are volunteers at a class about spirituality, but the problem is that the teacher doesn't turn up! Eventually, they find a series of envelopes containing parables from various faiths, tasks and discussion points, that they must work through to discover who their spiritual teacher is.
The children will draw, act, make music, write and talk through themes including believing without seeing, celebrating diverse perceptions of God, the balance of taking in others' views and autonomy over our own, and the support we do and don't want from spiritual leaders on our own spiritual journeys. The two characters go on their own learning journeys alongside the children: still nobody is wrong or right by the end, but everyone comes out more confident and joyful about following their own hearts and minds with openness, respect and care.
We can't wait to trial the show at a primary school next month, ahead of its first public showing alongside the performance of I, Lord at the Bloomsbury Theatre at 4:30pm on Monday 30th October! We'll be sure and let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, make sure you book your tickets - and if you want to bring your child(ren), e-mail email@example.com saying how many and what ages they are, as places are limited.