Is it cruel to bring up a child in a travelling theatre company?

Katherine Lambert, 26 September 2012

I'm Katherine and I called this session because I am part of a travelling theatre company about whose work I am totally passionate and I'm also about to become a parent - so this is a close issue for me. Rosy Louis, Olympia Agorin, Lucy Slade and Alanah Lee came to talk about this with me. It turned out perfectly as they were all just coming out of school years and so it was really useful to get their perspectives.

We talked about the positive aspects of travelling round while growing up. We felt that meeting loads of different people and cultures would help create open-mindedness and a couple of people felt they would have really appreciated the opportunity to see different places and get to know those places well as they were growing up.

We talked about what point a child could choose whether they wanted to travel or not.

Obviously up to age 5 or 6 it wouldn't necessarily be such an issue if this was the life they were used to. As long as the parents are happy with their life and what they are doing this is going to have an affect on their child. We thought that you might as well be open to change as you go along rather than trying to fix a lifestyle and stubbornly stick with it come what may. If the travelling family life is not working - either for you or the child - why not just settle.

Schools and making friends is an issue. Moving around too much would make it difficult in the school system and it would be difficult to make friends and then leave them again all the time. But on the other side of the coin - you would meet loads of people and have lots of friends. My concern is about making deeper relationships with people which time is important for. We were wondering about the possibility of home schooling or perhaps creating a nomadic school. As long as there were other children involved who were travelling round with us this would help on all fronts.

Money is the other issue. It is an issue anyway for a small travelling theatre company.

But perhaps in some ways some expenses could be less if you were on the road and were organised about it. Eg. no council tax (that's a biggie), less rent (as long as you can find a place to park), fewer bills etc. There is the issue of continuous income, however. Employment that is mobile and supplements the money brought in from shows and performances. That together with enough family time. I suppose this is an issue for all families in this day and age.

Overall - I found lots of positive feeling towards the idea of a travelling life for a child which has made me feel much less worried about the thought. No-one thought it was cruel - rather that it would be an advantage in many ways.

Where we go from here? Openness and experimentation and consideration for the child - particularly as they grow up and can express how they feel. In fact, it's become clear to me that this conversation can continue with my child.


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