Friday, June 28, 2013

Farewell thoughts about Mind the Gap

It can't have been four weeks already. Nope, nope, nope.

This evening was my last with Mind the Gap. My last full day was yesterday, and today we went out to Halifax to see The Historians. It was great to actually see a show with the company. The Making Theatre and Acting Company guys make the best audience members. They're not afraid to laugh, cry, and give good energy the whole time.

I'm not a crier when it comes to bittersweet things, but as I was saying goodbye to everyone for the last time, there were a few times where I had to fight back tears.

Like when Howard took hold of my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said, "You take care."
As the tears started to well up, he said, "Don't cry! You wuss."

These last few weeks have taught me so much about what it means to be a theatre artist and a person. I've learned the obvious, of course, like how to devise theatre with people with learning disabilities and what it's like artistically and logistically working in a company that uses theatre for social good. The Mind the Gap-pers have also taught me a lot from an acting perspective. They are a group of fearless, endlessly energetic actors, and they are always right there in the moment. You can't take your eyes off of them.

Most importantly, though, I think I've gotten a better understanding of what it means to truly humanize others. When I first came here, I thought I knew what it meant to be kind to people with disabilities, but on my very first day I realized that, while I was kind, I wasn't giving them enough credit. I saw that Joyce, Charli, Helen, Tim, and the rest of the artistic and administrative staff treated the students and actors completely as equals. They held them to certain standards, joked with them, good-naturedly teased them (and got teased back!), and openly discussed their disabilities-- basically, everything you would do with people without learning disabilities.

It's hard to convey in words just what it's like to spend a day at Mind the Gap. You have to be there to feel the life and the vibrancy and the love that this company has for its work and for each other. Getting to know each distinctive, unmatchable personality has been beyond amazing.

This past month has been like nothing else I've ever experienced, and I hope that I've been able to give as much as I've gotten. To everyone at Mind the Gap, thank you so much for making me feel so welcome. I hope to be able to see you all again soon!
On the train back from Halifax!
Back row (L to R): Blake, Israr, Euan
Front: Joanne, Jack, Vince
Making faces with Alan
They made me a card! 

Drinks before the show

Zara and Susan

At the Bradford Interchange, getting ready to go see the show
Katherine and Howard

Columbian Hypnosis (from a few days ago!)
(photo credit: Charli Ward)