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Amber-Rose May is a director, performer and theatre maker who specialises in creating thought provoking and magical theatre for young people, allowing them to explore and understand important topics. She is the director and creator of Paper Aeroplane, a brand new musical journey full of physicality and zooming paper aeroplanes that sensitively explores loss and bereavement for ages 3-7.
We caught up with Amber-Rose to find out more about the show, the inspiration for the story, and discover why it is important for everyone to understand and talk about the different stages of the grieving process.
Tell us a little about Paper Aeroplane. What’s the show about?
Paper Aeroplane is a show for 3-7 year olds that sensitively explores bereavement, the challenges we face when trying to move on, and how we can help one another along the way.
Two friends are brought together on a musical adventure and, with a few bumpy flights along the way, they learn that grief can be felt and displayed in many different ways; sometimes in ways we don’t even understand. However, with the help of one another, we can get through difficult times and find hope along the way.
Why did you choose to stage this show?
To help talk about grief through bereavement. Everyone, at some point in their life, is going to lose someone or something they love. What to do, how to feel and how to process the feeling of loss can sometimes be difficult to fathom. I wanted to create a show that helps us start conversations about the processes of grief and display emotions in a way that is accessible, relatable and understood by children through adventure, play, friendship and music.
What was the inspiration for the story?
The inspiration for the story came from my sister, close friends and young people who I have worked with: all of whom have lost parents and close relatives of their own. Time heals pain, but no matter how hard we fight, grief can catch us out sometimes and make us feel unbalanced. Hearing other children share stories about the time they lost their loved ones really hit home, and I knew from that point on I wanted to inspire other young people to talk about their loved ones, cherish the good times and make lots of memories along the way.
How did the piece come to fruition?
The piece was curated with children and young people all of whom had lost their mother or father. Through a number of drama and storytelling workshops, we collectively came together, shared the feelings they had experienced, made memory jars, and wrote letters to the loved ones we had lost. The letters were then folded up into paper aeroplanes and we launched them into the sky.
Standing side by side and flying the paper planes there was instantly a sense of relief. It was such a simple, effective moment that I will treasure forever. At that point I knew I had to tell a story about how we can help one another in the most simplest of ways, which can make a massive difference to our lives every single day.
Why do the issues covered in Paper Aeroplane particularly resonate with you?
The issues resonate with me because I truly believe that talking and trying to understand that feeling sad, angry, hurt, isolated, shock, denial and acceptance are all part of the grieving process.
Having lost my parents at a young age, I know how difficult and how different grief can be for children and young people. Seeing a show like this may make a big difference to their lives, and that is what makes theatre so special, exciting and magic.
How do you want audiences to feel during / after the show
Happy, joyful, hopeful, sad, surprised, delighted and free. I hope that audiences feel that they can speak about losing someone or something more freely. They can walk away understanding that grief isn’t just about feeling sad, it comes in many forms of emotion.
Finally, describe Paper Aeroplane in three words.
Musical, adventurous and reflective.