~ workshops are a holding ~ by Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson
In this blog, artist Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson reflects on the workshop they delivered with Artsadmin Youth through revisiting her younger self.
In Summer 2021, I facilitated a beautiful, cute and supportive workshop at Artsadmin as part of my Apocalypse Reading Room residency. It’s always a pleasure being invited to design and bring forth workshops for/with youngers. To create the kind of spaces I needed when I was a teenager. Space to create, rest and feel through the imagination of who we truly are. Not what we are told to be… or amount to.
Taking away this weird pressure to ‘perform’, to ‘produce’ to be someone else.
And just say, ‘hey, what’s happening inside of you right now? How are you feeling? What do you need? Can you Write through it? Draw from it? Speak to it? Move within it? How can we support each other to be present? To know that you belong, right here. On this land, in this space, in this country.
You got a right to be here”
The work of showing up is powerful and scares the hell out of the powers-that-be! Scares the very construction of society that tells us, tells young people from inner-cities, from migrant families, from working-class homes, from single-parent homes, from the root of this very country that they are invisible.
Nah. i say f-ck dat.
i say you Here
i say your body, your life, this world is your own
Do what needs to be done
Create, Imagine and Feel into a Future that is Free
And i say it through my facilitation
It’s not so easy for me to recall those years
Those were a blur
Tough tbh, i can’t lie
In those 5 years I had moved house 5 times. Lived in 6 different homes. One of those homes was my grandmother’s who did not want me there (and made it clear from day dot!)
I was there because I had nowhere else to lay my head that year and feel a semblance of safety. I was there because my dad was there. Also without a home to call his. I was 19 yrs old. I had all my belongings in one single suitcase and worked part-time as a youth theatre assistant. I was in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. My hometown between the ages of 12-20. A beautiful place, but disenfranchised in so many ways. Segregated along the line of race and class. I’m also a Londoner through and through too. Walthamstow was my little youth years. Then after some epic house fails I finally found myself welcomed, whole and at home in Deptford, South East Ldn at 21… and been South East ever since.
So, what am I saying here?
I’m saying I knew exactly how messy the world could treat a child. I was a teenager struggling with adult sized problems, always looking, searching for space to dream. Space to rest. Space to play and build relationships that I could trust and grow myself in.
This is not hyperbole, this is not a metaphor. This was a real tangible necessity.
I wanted to breathe.
I wanted to create.
I was told to be more than the limits and blocks pushed into my body.
to be more than a poor Black girl
to be more than the kid from the ghetto.
And there is some truth in that…
all i wanted, was to be
And apparently, I couldn’t be all that I was, and all that made me me if I wanted to get into acting and go to drama school in ldn.
This was the late 2000’s
I was told that kids like me don’t go far in this world…
So I had to be someone else…
I had to disappear myself…
I had to wear a mask…
I didn’t know then, what I know now
That I was enough
That I always deserve safety, love and protection
That my family was not broken, we were survivors.
That my story deserves being listened to, told on my terms and my body is worthy of the stage, is worthy of being seen and witnessed.
That I don’t need to become someone else to ‘go far’, that I can reject the stage when i feel to, that I am complete.
That my friends crafted life and joy in the knowledge of shadows, and we did it with our bare hands and unrelentless imaginings. We were powerful, undefined and had every right to be angry
See, I always knew I had stories, characters and worlds in me. Some kind of knowledge. And I wanted to release them! Find others who felt it all too! I wanted to connect.
I even popped that wish into the 5 year timecapsule i buried in one of my homes at 12 yrs old.
Dug it up a yr later, 4 yrs early due to an unplanned and urgent move
And kept it safe
At 17 i opened it,
There it was
The dream manifest
“When i grow up i want to be an actor”
My world was opening up… i was a part of Arts Council England – Young People’s Participatory Theatre programme. A free programme across 3 years to make-sense of youth theatre as a practice. As a political agent for change. As an ecology and network. A sector. (this was the first time i heard this word).
i was being told that when i speak, adults listen….
This was some next kinda territory for me…
Although this programme had a lot of problems (!) – it meant i got to meet other young people from all over England, then from all over the world. Kids who felt like me, and adult mentors who believed in us.
I found my tribe.
And we wanted to change the world.
But i felt like i was living a double life.
I’d go off to do workshops, train in facilitation and watch shows.
But my home was falling apart
My mum was very sick
My dad wasn’t able to be there
My little sister needed me
We had no money
I worked weekends as a cleaner at a care home then as a retail assistant at a bookshop. Did 4 A-levels, went to youth theatre and co-organised the Huddersfield Music Scene street team with my pal
I was struggling
I was alive
I wanted to escape
I just wanted to breathe.
I just wanted a space where i wasn’t told some bullshit Stanislavski crap to ‘leave my baggage at the door’.
I wanted to lay down
I wanted to write this all out of me
I wanted to be met
Not as a young actor, not as a young facilitator, not as a youth theatre advocate
I wanted to be checked-in on
I wanted to cry tbh and be held
I wanted to be helped
I wanted a future that was my own
And most importantly, i wanted to feel all of who i was and be accepted
Tools for feeling
Tools for self-acceptance
Tools for resistance
Tools for grounding
Tools for deep knowing, change and transformation
This is the workshop space i guide and facilitate
A kind of justice
A kind of care
A kind of world we deserve to breathe in
Artsadmin Youth is our free creative arts programme for 16-21 year olds who live/study in East London.
Produced by Artsadmin, with support from BE PART through the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, The Simon Gibson Charitable Trust and the Allen & Overy Ben Ogden Memorial Fund.