Zoom workshop from week 1 of training

Over the Summer at Spare Tyre, we ran our pilot sensory training programme - Tyre Change – a collaborative training project hosted via zoom for 8 artists to explore sensory practices, share ideas and work together in producing and delivering their own workshops. 

Working on this project as a coordinator has been an illuminating experience. Spare Tyre’s dedication to accessibility and intersectionality is one of more than just words. From the recruitment process, to shortlisting and actual training days, participants needs as well as staff involved were centred. Often we are asked to make sacrifices when it comes to our work and practices, but here our bodies were honoured. Working on this project, I asked myself, what is it about this small but radical theatre company that makes me feel genuinely included? It was the lack of a hierarchical work culture for me–this is an extension of accessibility but an absolute fundamental aspect of it also.  

Being a witness to the training days the artists were offered opened my eyes to the worlds of sensory art. Each time Rebecca, Lisa or Yolande - the facilitators of Tyre Change - would lead a workshop the atmosphere would change, everyone in their own little zoom boxes would begin to connect and I would witness a transformation.  Each facilitator eased the trainees in to the space, sometimes breathing deeply was encouraged, other times it was a verbal permission to have fun. Feeling safe and present was prioritised and seen as enough in itself. This is an environment I have been unfamiliar with but one filled with lessons and practices that I intend to continue nurturing.  

Below, some of our participants share their experiences and reflections: 

My awareness of disability and access needs has also increased, which will make my practice more inclusive.

Elly

Elly: 

What did this process mean for you in terms of your future practice?  

This process provided a really valuable space to further develop my facilitation skills. It reminded me of the joy of collaborating on a workshop and how co-facilitating is like passing on a baton. Forming new connections with diverse creatives has opened up exciting career opportunities. 

How will this programme inform your practice?  

Learning new ways to create collective, sensory experiences remotely has enriched my socially-engaged practice. My awareness of disability and access needs has also increased, which will make my practice more inclusive. I feel more confident in facilitating future workshops and participatory performances for older adults and those with learning disabilities. 

What is something that shifted for you as a result of the programme?  

You can worry that the activity you’ve planned will not be stimulating enough, but because of the way Zoom frames something, both visually and audibly, it creates a dedicated space for simple things to be explored in detail, which is valuable for all.  

How would you describe this programme to someone else?  

A chance to reconnect with your sensorial body in a collaborative, nurturing setting and discover ways for people of all abilities to do the same by creating playful, stimulating and calming workshops. 

We sent journals to all the trainees and Elly has shared some snapshots of hers: 

An open notebook shows handwritten notes
An open notebook shows handwritten notes and drawings
An open notebook shows handwritten notes and drawings

I am learning to slow down, relax, moving and play.

Harshita

Harshita reflected through a poem:  

Tyre Change 

I am a parent carer of a child with Autism, Sensory Processing and a complex needs 

My experience is fast, intense, and full of Challenges and joys.  

Seeing the world through my child’s eyes, watching him succeed 

Learning through his senses, being outdoors, natures play is his toys. 

Spare tyre is an inclusive and diverse theatre company. 

Our Ethos aligned and vision is heading in the same direction. 

I apply for the Tyre Change role and get through luckily. 

A step up for me, time for me to pay attention. 

We meet online through a new channel called Zoom. 

A new way of thinking and lots of new faces. 

We huddle and gather like the Brady Bunch in a room. 

New friends made, Introductions, training and laughter in our spaces. 

I am learning to slow down, relax, moving and play. 

With different learning practices, taking me out of my comfort zone. 

We get into pairs to create; I embrace a new way. 

Planning a workshop from scratch, changing my tone.

I have enjoyed the process and we learnt from each other. 

A new way, a step and leap of faith, the future is Zoom. 

With more confidence and practice, I am sure there is more I can offer.  

Adieu for now.. In person I hope we see you all soon 

New goals reached and meeting communities. 

Thank you to all at Spare Tyre, your patience was more than sublime. 

Challenges, learning, unlearning, and creating opportunities. 

Together we will serve our communities and create inclusion overtime. 

Image of Harshita 

It gave me a strong foundation in sensory workshop facilitation skills that I will incorporate in my practice.

Jasmine

Jasmine:  

What did this process mean for you in terms of your future practice?   

The process gave me the opportunity to meet a supportive, friendly and creative group that I hope to stay in touch and work with in the future. It also gave me a strong foundation in sensory workshop facilitation skills that I will incorporate in my practice. 

Below is a picture of the sensory pack created to send to workshop participants at Jackson's Lane for a workshop led by Jasmine and Eugénie.     

Inclusive, stimulating, caring, quietly transformative. An experience where I have been able to be myself.

Eugénie

Eugénie:

The idea of risk is something we explored during this programme, has your view/attitude towards risk changed during this 4 week process?  

Yes and no. I am used to taking risks in terms of how to push boundaries of what I know how to do, and I am also used to taking participants with me and asking them to challenge themselves in positive and exciting ways. However, what was new for me in this context was allowing myself to take 'small' but meaningful risks, in letting go of my desire to be in control or knowing. In this way, I have been thinking about risk in a different way, as something that doesn't have to be big or very visible, but can instead happen in the background, as a quietly transformative decision of letting myself be out of my depth–and thinking about how this can then led on to inviting participants to do the same.  

Did you find zoom limiting/more open than you expected?  

I found Zoom more open than expected, both in the group sessions and in the workshop I co-led. I think part of the reason for this was the fact that Zoom was never talked about as a 'lesser than' medium, and so it didn't ever feel like we were using it as a way of compensating for 'real life'. Instead, it felt like it was allowed to be its own medium, and its own room. I was surprised and excited to see how much sharing could be done on Zoom, and experimenting with exercises all together. I think engaging with the senses, especially movement and touch, while on Zoom, made me feel like the distance was bridged more than if we had only relied on the visual/aural. Zoom also allows for complete breaks if needed. I learned a lot from being in these specific Zoom rooms, and how inclusive they felt, and this will definitely carry further in my practice and my teaching.  

What did this process mean for you in terms of your future practice?   

It has invited me to think about what an artistic experience can be, in the context of participation, and that a focus on a sensory experience doesn't need to have an outcome other than itself. The artwork, or event, is the experience itself, the moment we spend together exploring and playing. This will be something I'll carry further. 

The inclusivity of the process, from an access perspective as well as the flexibility with which we were treated will also influence my practice as an example of a caring and ethical process. The community we created in the Zoom rooms of weeks 1 and 4 will also stay with me as an inspiration of what caring and inclusive collaboration can be.  

How would you describe this programme to someone else?  

Inclusive, stimulating, caring, quietly transformative, somewhere where I have met amazing artists and individuals and I have felt part of a supportive and exciting group, an experience where I have been able to be myself.  


We'll be sharing reflections from the other participants in a Part 2 on our blog and a bit about some of the Spare Tyre projects that our Tyre Change participants are now involved in.