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The Empty Space


Last week I sat down in front of my laptop, opened up a new word document, typed “Chapter 1 Minibook” and then stared at the empty space before taking a deep breath and muttering ‘here we go’. I am delighted to have a publishing agreement with the United Kingdom Literacy Association to write a guide on using embodied learning as part of their Minibook series https://ukla.org/publications/minibooks-series/ but looking at that empty space on screen was simultaneously exciting, daunting and scary. Exciting because I am passionate about using movement in learning and I’ll get to communicate that passion and hopefully make an impact on teaching and learning. Daunting because of the graft that comes with writing for publication – remembering where that perfect quote came from, beating myself up for thinking I’d remember the reference and then starting down the Google rabbit hole in search of it. And scary because I have 7 weeks in which to complete a document that is well written, informative but most of all interesting!

The concept of an ‘empty space’ speaks of both absence and potential and I am reminded of Peter Brook’s seminal work of the same title. I first read this book in 1985 at Rolle College, Exmouth (which sadly no longer exists) when I began my BA in English and Theatre Arts. I had never read anything like it, nor was I a particularly avid theatre goer and yet I ‘got’ what Brook was saying about the spectrum of theatre performance – deadly, holy, rough and immediate. I still have my copy, complete with many underlinings and pencilled comments. The book opens with this image,

“I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged” (1984, p. 11)

If I look ahead to the day when my manuscript is complete, in essence it will remain an empty page until someone reads it and engages with the words on the page so that the ideas become embodied in their own teaching. And that thought is what mobilises me to keep tapping away at the keys…

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