You bring certain expectations with you along to any new experience. Having never been to Europe and never worked for an International Arts Festival for Children, I did not know exactly what to expect coming into Baboró. However, after excitedly turning to Google Maps to see where I would be working for the summer and seeing what largely resembled a daycare in what I presumed to be the office (I soon discovered that what I thought was Baboró’s office was actually the children’s section of Galway’s Public Library), I inevitably formed some preconceived notions about the type of work my summer might entail. Maybe I would be making crafts for the children for the festival? Maybe I would be helping put together simple theatre games and skits?
In short, I quickly realized that my expectations of what this experience would be like were very incorrect. And that has been my favorite part about working at Baboró: seeing the seriousness, attention-to-detail, and passion poured into creating this festival that so clearly parallels that of any arts festival dedicated to adults.
Working with Baboró has not been my first time being exposed to children’s theatre. Having participated in community theatre from the time I was about three years old, I’ve both performed in and seen many performances targeted for younger audiences. However, those experiences were nothing like the performances I have encountered in participating in the preparation for Baboró’s festival. These shows deal with themes of loss and feeling comfortable in one’s own skin. These shows use multimedia, projections, shadow work, and incredibly impressive acrobatics. These shows accompany children to themes that are challenging even for adults but in ways that brilliantly and beautifully make them able to resonate with the youngest of audiences. As I have worked to communicate with and compile information from the performing companies, I have found that this is a very different arts festival for children than the one I was expecting, and it is one that thus far has felt incredibly special and meaningful to be a part of.
I have also been very surprised to find out just how much else Baboró is involved in and does in addition to its annual festival. Its name is slightly misleading, as yet again I expected all of my work to be based on preparing for Baboró’s International Arts Festival for Children. And yes, this work does comprise a lot of what happens at the office. However, getting to work at Baboró has allowed me to see how deeply Baboró’s work extends beyond preparing for its annual festival. In working on the newsletter for this month, I was able to learn about the support Baboró offers to artists and creatives working in the field of theatre for children. I have worked on the preparation for “Wide Eyes,” the culmination of a four-year project that Baboró has partnered in and will be hosting. I have observed and taken part in a CPD course that Baboró led this past week about how to incorporate drama into the classroom. And I have just continued to be surprised again and again by the various avenues through which Baboró is able to develop and deepen its overall mission: to make sure all children are exposed to the incredible power and gift of the creative arts.
I have really loved my first three weeks working with Baboró and I cannot wait to continue to be surprised by this organization and everything it manages to do with such a small group of people over the next four weeks.