Mary Swan here! For those that don’t know me I am the Artistic Director and CEO of Proteus, but crucially I’m also a Mum to two teenage daughters.
So, I wanted to share the experience of having teenagers in lockdown, as there seems to be a plethora of resources and activities for younger children, but pretty much nothing for those of us struggling to drag teenagers out of bed each day!
My eldest is in her first year of ‘A’ Levels and my youngest is just finishing Year 8 in Secondary school. Other than the school/college work, inspiration for entertainment beyond Netflix has been a bit thin on the ground. Although, I did sit through an extraordinary and alarming documentary my eldest’s Politics lecturer recommended on civil liberties the other night.
With the younger one, I have found classic film education very useful. Now, I realise this will depend on the child and obviously one has to choose carefully, but once you realise they have never seen films like ‘Jaws’, ‘Blade Runner’ or classic comedies like ‘Bringing Up Baby’ or ‘Blazing Saddles’ – there’s a lot of fun to be had digging around amongst the old DVD collection. Cooking has been a good distraction for all of us, but let’s be honest, there’s only so much cake one should eat in a week, and the shortage of flour has meant that’s been pretty much knocked on the head as well. However, eating together is really important too – if you’re anything like my family we are all ‘working from home’ through the days in different rooms, so it can be easy to not see each other at all.
There are some fabulous live streaming events from other theatre companies (I do hope you have noticed we are streaming some of our previously filmed shows, watch this space for announcements of when they are online). One of my favourite companies are Spymonkey and they are making their frankly hilarious shows available on vimeo (go to www.spymonkey.co.uk for details). Their work is based in physical comedy and clowning, and Cal McCrystal, a frequent collaborator of theirs,was responsible for the physical comedy direction of the National Theatre’s ‘One Man, Two Guv’nors’ with James Corden (available free online from April 2nd for seven days). There are trailers for their productions on Spymonkey’s site to see if their sense of humour works for your teen, and do be aware there is always ridiculously funny nudity at some point in all their shows!
And finally, music. We have always been purveyors of the ‘Kitchen Rave’ in my house – often to the consternation of my kids obviously, but take the time to get them to play you what they’ve been listening to. I’ve had my ears opened up as much by my daughters in recent years, as I have tried to open theirs, bands like current favourites The Japanese House for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEzYD4ZielY this song has a lovely early summer feel to it, and an ironically ‘self-isolation’ type video!
But the main thing is to try and value the time you have been given with them. This is a gift if you have teenage children normally out with their friends, or working casual jobs at evenings or weekends. Yes there will be arguments, yes there will be towels left on the floor and dishes in bedrooms, yes there will be slammed doors and hormonal tears. But there will also be laughs, and chats and movie nights, and eating together and video calls with family and friends. Value this time if you can, we all grow up so quickly, and if, like me, Reception Year feels like it was only last week, then try and enjoy the ride the next few weeks will bring. This will be over, and they will get on with their young adult lives, but you could know them a whole lot better by the end of it.
Poster image design The Red Dress made for Spymonkey’s production of Hysteria
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