Home » London Theatre News » Poet Simon Mole and Musician Gecko – Free online workshops for children

Poet Simon Mole and Musician Gecko – Free online workshops for children

Poetry workshopsWith their national tour postponed, poet Simon Mole and musician Gecko are running free online workshops for children and families during lockdown, taking inspiration from 9-year-old Lula to create a new song about dens.

Poet Simon Mole and musician Gecko were due to tour their family performance Mole & Gecko: THE SHOW this Spring, sharing songs, rap stories and instant poems with children in theatres and libraries across England. With the tour postponed due to Covid19, the duo are reaching out to children and families in their own homes through online poetry sessions, leading to one participant inspiring a new song and video about building dens.

Whilst in lockdown, Mole and Gecko have been connecting to their audiences with the free weekly workshops, with participants Zooming in from Beckenham to Barbados!

One workshop attendee, 9-year-old Lula from Somerset, had the opportunity to ask the pair to write a song about anything she liked. She chose ‘making dens’, always a popular activity but especially at the moment for children stuck inside. Lula said: “Hearing my ideas turn into a proper song was really exciting. I even sung a little bit of a tune which ended up being used in the final version.”

Mole and Gecko appreciated having the support of North London theatre venue artsdepot, with the video for Our Den created in their scheduled residency week there, but with them working remotely instead of in the building as originally planned.

As a poet and educator, Mole facilitates workshops in schools and community settings, and has also created resources for the National Literacy Trust and BBC. His YouTube channel is an online resource with more than twenty videos to engage young people with poetry and literacy. The videos have proved extra popular during lockdown, with the ‘Write a Poem in under 10 Minutes’ video reaching nearly 100,000 views so far.

Simon Mole said: “It’s not just a weekly workshop but a real community with kids writing and then reading their poems, or hearing their work read. While the schools are closed I know a lot of people, myself included, are looking for creative things to do at home with their children. I want to bring as much creativity and positivity as possible at the moment, so it’s important to me that the workshops are free to attend.”

Gecko said: “I loved making the den song for Lula. Creating dens in these times gives us some sense of control whilst everything outside the den can feel hectic. Like we say in the song that den can be a portal to wherever we want to be, whether that’s real places we’re missing or in space or the belly of whale.

Louisa Bartlett-Pestell, Director of Programming at artsdepot, said: “artsdepot love working with Mole and Gecko. Whilst we missed having them in the building, it was a pleasure to support their online residency and see so many young people participate in the workshops. We are delighted by the fun and innovative creations they achieved at a distance and continue to hum Our Den.

Participants and their parents said: “I like all the little details I can put in the poems and I like saying my poems.” – Young Participant

My eldest loves storytelling; creating his own characters and taking them on adventures. The poetry workshop is an amazing opportunity to do just this. No answer is wrong, all ideas are accepted. They have been a great addition to our homeschooling routine. Tuesday is now known as ‘Poem-day with Simon.’” – Parent

Simon’s online poetry workshops are fantastic! It’s amazing how much writing my 7 year old produces when I’ve been struggling to get him to write one sentence! They are such a fun and creative part of our weekly lockdown routine.” – Parent

SOCIAL MEDIA

BIOGRAPHIES
Simon Mole is a Poet, Emcee, and Theatre-maker. He built his skills on the Brighton hip-hop scene and has shared the bill with Simon Armitage, John Cooper Clarke and Kate Tempest. He has been featured on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. Simon co-founded Chill Pill Collective, curating and hosting popular poetry nights at Soho Theatre and the Albany, and was the first Poet Laureate for the London borough of Brent. Simon is an experienced facilitator working with rap and poetry in community and education settings, including projects with Great Ormond Street Hospital and Arsenal FC. In 2012, Simon established Simon Mole Presents with immersive performance director Peader Kirk and producer Maeve O’Neill, since creating three full length shows for theatre spaces: Indiana Jones and the Extra Chair, No More Worries and Friends For All. Their partnership takes spoken word performance in a bold direction, with Simon’s intricately crafted poetic stories at the core of immersive entertainment and integrated participation. Since becoming a Dad, Simon writes increasingly for young people. His first book for children, Kites, a collaboration with illustrator Oamul Lu, was published by Quarto/Lincoln Children’s Books last year.

Gecko is a Singer, Storyteller and Musician. A North London based artist, his playful lyrics cover the big things in life; think iPhones, libraries and Guanabana fruit juice to name but a few. Gecko has previously appeared at Glastonbury, Bestival, BBC Radio 1, 6 Music, BBC Scotland, BBC London and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 2017, he launched his debut album Volcano with a sold-out London show, a session with John Kennedy on Radio X and a tour of Sofar Sounds shows across the UK and the Netherlands. Volcano was made ‘Album of the year’ in the Morning Star. Gecko has shared stages with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Robin Ince, Josie Long, John Hegley and Billy Bragg.

ABOUT artsdepot
artsdepot is a cultural hub in North London, named Independent Cultural Venue of the Year at the Dot London Awards in 2016, Best Family Venue at the Family Arts Festival Awards in 2017 and winner of Best Age-Friendly Welcome at the Fantastic for Families Awards 2018.

Since opening in 2004 the venue has had its roots firmly in the community, nurturing young talent, engaging with people of all ages through participation and outreach projects, and presenting a vibrant programme of performances and exhibitions, alongside supporting the development of new work through its artist development programmes. artsdepot welcomes over 162,000 people each year to watch, learn, create or be inspired. www.artsdepot.co.uk.

Author

Scroll to Top