Katie Taylor invites you to join her on The Big Playdate, sharing in some of her fun and profound experiences of life in lockdown.

“If the 2 halves of a couple are currently in separate households, ideally they should stay in those households… The alternative might be that, for quite a significant period going forwards, they should test the strength of their relationship and decide whether one wishes to be permanently resident in another household.”

UK government’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries, 24 March 2020

I watched on my laptop as the above advice was delivered at one of the then-daily Downing Street press briefings. This was close to the start of my pandemic, and it surprised me that the government was dictating my most intimate personal relationships. I felt like I’d been here before…

It took me back to someplace, sometime, maybe even some person… I felt like I was in trouble. Like I knew what I wanted, but I couldn’t quite trust my judgement or exercise my agency to get it. Like I needed to rely on someone else to keep me safe. Then I realised: our leaders were sending us to our rooms, and it all felt a bit adolescent.

In the months that followed, I became obsessed with getting out and – in the times I accepted I was stuck in – I went deep into the detail of myself and my surroundings. I made films of the most mundane things: me clearing out the shed, a bumble bee gathering pollen, a seagull having a bath. I gathered objects I found on snatched walks and tried to make order of them. I watched the films again and again. I wondered what it all meant.

Some things that I found... and sorted

The issue that the government guidance quoted above didn’t seem to acknowledge is that many of us live our lives in multiple parts. And, as well as deciding whether my actual real-world partner and I would share a home for the first time, I needed to decide which of my selves to let into this lockdown lock-in.

It started with a fairly brutal array of versions of me. There was the ever-present Critic, of course; the Personal Trainer who wanted to smash their personal best; the Project Manager who tried to find ways to get Everything done. But over time, as restrictions flexed, loosened and ultimately dissolved, I invited in a wider cast of Katies…

The introspective filming of the tiny details of my life and surroundings developed into something led by the Creative; something that could be shared with other people. The singing along to music while cooking just to have another voice in the space joined with the need to move my body and turned into the Karaoke Killer (murdering the songs, not the audience!) The longing to get out turned into a series of different ways to connect. 

The Karaoke Killer (yes, I bought a disco light for my front room, just to make things more bearable)

So now, the Conversationalist leads me into spaces for dialogue and understanding, whether online or in person.

The Big Playdate is a chance for some of those characters to come out and connect… with you! For although you and I will meet one-to-one, we’ll welcome any surprising versions of ourselves that turn up. Maybe we’ll even invite those versions in through talking, moving, playing. I’ll offer lots of different options from watching to getting involved in anything from Connect4 to karaoke. Everything is optional – take it at your own pace and find your play!

I know it can be tough to play. But I also know – from the last couple of years if nothing else – that it’s essential that we do. What we find in that play might surprise us, concern us, delight us – any which way, it gives us a new perspective on the world, and that perspective can propel us through stuckness.

While it’s called Katie Taylor’s Big Playdate, I’ve been doing this stuff by myself for a while, and it would be much more lively to share it with you.  

So, here’s your invitation to come play… I very much hope to see you there!

Katie Taylor’s Big Playdate runs from 7 to 22 October 2022 – a reflection on play, personal power and finding pals in online spaces – for an audience of one! Find out more and book your ticket.