Who are we?
Can't Sit Still is a Bristol based company that make new devised shows combining physical theatre, dance, circus and original live music. We tell stories, start conversations and try to change the world. We are interested in making performances with and for unusual audiences who may not have regular access to the arts, in unusual locations.
This year we created and toured Plink and Boo, an interactive circus theatre adventure for 2-5 year olds, to theatres and libraries across the country. Plink and Boo playfully explores gender stereotypes in children's toys. Following great responses from families, this show will continue touring in 2019.
We're itching to start making a new show. This show has been borne from our lived experience of motherhood, and many conversations - both online and in person - that all ask the same question: "why is no one talking about how hard this is?".
Invisible Thread will be an intimate multi-sensory experience for new mothers and babies up to twelve months, based on the Mexican ritual of Cerrada, also known as ‘Closing the Bones’. Cerrada is a ceremony that nurtures and heals both mother and baby. It is a celebration of the mother body and a moment of stillness in the rollercoaster of emotions of new motherhood. Through the performance we aim to have a positive impact on maternal mental health and strengthen the invisible thread that connects mother and baby.
Here’s an idea of what the performance might look like:
A small audience of mothers and their babies enter a large, dome shaped tent, decorated in rich purples and pinks, vivid blues and greens. The tent has different areas where you can make yourself comfy - from piles of cushions to snuggle into, to rocking chairs for feeding. Each mother is invited to use the space as she needs. The performance begins with a song that calls to each baby and mother by name. The singers are around the edges of the tent, and as they sing two performers in the centre move and in and amongst the mothers and babies, linking the audience in their shared experience. The performance will culminate with massage for the mothers and babies (with their consent). On leaving the tent the mothers will be invited to stay for tea, biscuits and conversation with the company and other audience members whilst the babies chill out and play.
Invisible Thread will be directed by Catherine Boot. Cat worked as an actor for 10 years, performing for very young audiences, audiences with Profound Multiple Learning Disabilities and Deaf audiences. She trained at Rose Bruford College and Circomedia and holds a level 3 qualification in British Sign Language.
Invisible Thread is a collaboration between Can't Sit Still and Julia Turner, founder of BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby) choir in Bristol. At BYOB parents sing uplifting songs whilst the babies chill out and listen to the sweet harmonies. We're interested in the proven benefits of singing on mental health and well being, and we will explore working with a community choir of singers in the show who can bathe the mums and babies in music.
We'll also be embedding ourselves at our partner venues: Lancaster Arts, Farnham Maltings, The Mill in Banbury and Circomedia. We will spend a few days in each location, meeting the team that work there as well as local mums and babies and other interested groups. This will create a rich tapestry that will be weaved together into the show.
We create performances through participation and co-production, meeting target audiences in community settings and designing our approach based on their needs. This results in high quality community collaboration built on a foundation of trust. It enables us to create shows that the target audience are invested in and want to see.
We have been commissioned by Gloucestershire NHS to run two brand new wellbeing groups for mothers and babies. These groups will have a positive impact on maternal wellbeing in themselves, whilst also allowing us to test ideas and gather information. At the end of this period of research and development period we will return to Gloucestershire to perform a work in progress version of Invisible Thread to the mothers and babies who helped us make it.
Post-natal depression affects 10-20% of mothers in developed countries. Poor maternal mental health also impacts children, increasing the risk of childhood injury, illness and hospitalisation. The longer-term consequences of perinatal depression for children include increased risks of experiencing emotional, behavioural and cognitive problems.
The average cost to society of one case of perinatal depression is around £74,000, of which £23,000 relates to the mother and £51,000 relates to impacts on the child.
The entire cost of this project is £22,430. We are asking for £1500 from the public to help us complete this phase of the work.
What will your money be spent on?
We believe everyone should be able to experience great art everywhere, not just in theatres. When we made Plink and Boo, we worked with Laura McEwen, a fantastic designer who created a travelling micro-theatre that is able to be taken into libraries, schools and community centres, and can transport its audience away from their everyday surroundings.
We would like to work with this concept again for Invisible Thread so that we can take the show to Children's Centres, NHS settings and wherever there is need. £1500 will contribute towards the cost of materials and making time for the new micro-theatre space.