At home

Alice Clarke

The living room would never be the same. Or so it seemed. Sofas no longer sat snugly round the fire; rugs had been thrown back in readiness and Sellotape, paint, glue and scissors set at strategic points in the room. A large home-made wooden goalpost construction, draped in sarongs and held down by sandbags, had already dominated this space for several weeks. The thespians were out in force.

That was last year's play, the memories of which live on like a slightly prolonged labour, yet with the birth of a wonderful child, never quite imagined. It had been my idea, so I wasn't complaining. Along with two other home-schooling families, parents and children threw themselves into the play and, when I look back, I am thrilled at what we achieved. For family and neighbourhood friends, we carried off two, hour-long, rhyming-couplet performances of The Musicians of Bremen.

Drama as a creative process seemed to bring out the best and worst in us. On one hand, the pressure of getting things done on time caused a few tensions. On the other, the opportunities for expressing ourselves were vast. Scenery, program-mes, writing, costumes, props, music and, of course, the acting gave all a chance to shine. Everyone was able to contribute in ways they felt drawn to and it seemed a positive and confidence-building way of working naturally and collaboratively.

This year, the goalpost has been shifted and a large puppet theatre is growing in its place. This may not be ideal timing to take over the living room as hammers, saws and blackboard paint aren't generally regarded as festive decor, but hopefully the memories will be worth it.

Part of developing a home-school ethos has required me to recognise the bits I'm no good at. Luckily, my husband Jack's DIY skills far outshine mine and he is glad to be able to spend time with the children, passing on what he knows. Finlay and Isla are always delighted to be working with their dad.

The felt puppets are nearly finished for our nativity play, the script almost complete. All that remains is the rehearsing, programmes, sending out of invititations, backdrops and, as Finlay likes to remind me, making popcorn. Better get started.

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Alice Clarke

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