With an applied performing arts and environmental education background, I study the processes of improvisation and interdependence and the links between creativity, ecology, politics and pedagogy. At present I’m researching the adult role in facilitating outdoor play in Forest Schools practice.
I had a well spent youth playing in bands and protesting up trees. My career began in the mid 90s, when I founded the UK’s first environmental theatre company, Trolley Theatre, creating participatory projects and outdoor theatre in the UK and internationally. We explored 21C social responses to environmental justice and I enjoyed writing biting satire.
Going freelance a decade ago, I scripted, trained and performed for other participatory arts and theatre companies. I further qualified and worked as a music therapist, environmental writer and Forest School leader. Sometimes these skills roll into the same job description, which makes for a happy Mel. Then life took me along the path from making outdoor plays to outdoor play, which was like walking into my home to find all the furniture rearranged, with nice new neighbours coming round for tea and toasted marshmallows by the fire. Same but different.
I’ve taught improvisation for about 15 years, in theatre, voice and music. It’s my great passion. I focus on developing vocal impro, in site-specific and interdisciplinary collaborations. Improvisation fits surprisingly well with my current research into Forest Schools practice, as most of our lives are utterly improvised and facilitating outdoor child-centred play is no exception. In fact, the research has helped to further draw links between ecological processes and improvisation.