After the launch event on Tuesday, the very next day Cap-a-Pie and Dr Lou Harvey started off with a hiss and a roar at the Cap-a-Pie office at the Ouseburn Farm in Newcastle.

We’d both expressed an interest in carrying on our collaboration beyond Creative Labs and were seeing the event on the 6th of July as an opportunity to show something that we’d created in the manner of a ‘scratch’ performance or work-in-progress.  So with that in mind we set to work.

One of the great things about Lou’s research is that it’s instantly relatable for almost anyone.  At the core it’s about people learning English and coming to Britain and struggling with the language for one reason or another.  But its ideas can be applied to experiences of English-speakers learning other languages or anyone going to another country or simply just coming into contact with another culture.

But the crux of it is about (as put succinctly by Lou at one point):

“the assumption that you understand what’s going on around you, but then you realise that you don’t actually know the rules”.

So for the morning we just spent a few hours talking about the research, drawing on our own experiences and putting forward some raw ideas for what we can do at the event in July based on the above quote.  And we felt like we were moving towards something that was interesting for us and useful and spoke to the research.

In the afternoon we changed tack a little a bit.  In the morning we felt that we had created an interesting form but felt it might be good to think about content.  We did a small version of a ‘Creative Inquiry‘, a Cap-a-Pie method developed years ago that mixes creativity and Philosophy for Children (but is suitable for any age or ability).

It basically involves starting with a stimulus (in this case, a piece of verbatim text from Lou’s research), extracting themes from that stimulus, responding creatively to those themes (which could be through creative writing, poetry, drawing, drama, sculpture – anything really) and then formulating philosophical questions.  One of these questions is chosen as the one to focus on.

The question we chose to explore for our content is:  “how do we decide what ambitions are acceptable?”  It’s a question that links well to the research and has a lot of artistic possibilities.

And for the last half hour we set about creating some characters, stories and scenes from scratch as something to potentially draw from in the future.

All in all we felt it was a super productive day.  We now have a few weeks to let the ideas marinade before re-convening back in Newcastle at the end of June.