MakeBelieve Arts becomes a teenager!

It's our 13th Birthday! To celebrate Artistic Director, Trisha Lee looks back over the past 13 years and shares the significance of becoming a teenager.

We're also bravely sharing some photos to show that we were 13 once too...

If childhood is about magic, thirteen introduces mystery…

Thirteen is a difficult age. According to Mumsnet it’s the MOST difficult age. It’s the age Joan of Arc was when she started hearing celestial voices. Anne Frank was thirteen when she was given her diary. Juliet was thirteen when she met Romeo.

According to TIME magazine (2005), “it is the age of childhood leaning forward and adulthood holding back, when the world gets suddenly closer, the colours more vivid, the rules subject to never ending argument.”

Thirteen years ago I sat at a table in my front room and wrote the words, “MakeBelieve Arts Jobs List” on the first page of a new notebook, purpose bought for the occasion. I dated it 02/02/02. I was 36 at the time, just about to turn 37. It’s strange how our babies age us.

Growing older with MakeBelieve Arts by my side has been a fantastic experience. Watching a company develop, and mingle with new people, and reach out and stretch in so many more directions than I could ever have imagined when I wrote my first jobs list, is something that still warms me inside. 

So many people have come through the door at MakeBelieve Arts over those 13 years, whether the doors were my own front door, as it was for the first few years of our existence, or the Deptford Mission doors, where we have been based since 2006, or Isla’s door at the office in Kent. Many are still in contact with us, and those we have lost touch with, know that they are always welcome back. Each of them has been part of shaping and informing the way that we are today.

A big part of leading MakeBelieve Arts has also been about leaving her, to travel the world on my sabbatical year. Sometimes to help something grow we have to step away from it, to see how it develops without us. Coming home has been hard. The world for me has suddenly got closer, the colours are more vivid, and I face with MakeBelieve Arts the teenage battle of what we want to do with the rest of our lives. As my 50th birthday arrives, I hope I will never stop asking that question, never stop relooking, reinventing and reimagining, alongside MakeBelieve Arts, about where we are going to next…

So as the age of 13 unveils its mystery I look forward to discovering its secrets. The change that I want to see, and the vision that I had all those years ago still beats through the heart of the organisation and out into the adults and children we meet.

And if thirteen is an age of difficult decisions, bring it on. The need to question the rules is as strong today as it has always been. So let’s enjoy being stroppy teenagers and never stop asking, “Why???”