I love birthdays. I love the cake and the candles and the celebration of each year as it passes. I have wonderful memories of special presents that were bought for me on my “special day” in the past, as well as those I selected, carefully and thoughtfully, for my loved ones. I have happy memories of watching people on their birthdays and how special it felt to know that others were celebrating your being on the planet for another year. 

I love birthdays. Yet, with every one that passes, I find myself haunted with questions like: 

How did I spend the time this year ?

Was it a good year?

What did I do this year?

What do I regret from this year?

And the big question:

What should I do about all that next year?

Part of me thinks it’s a morbid practice - a way to create worries on a day of celebration. I answer myself with the fact that I want to live without regrets as far as is possible and no matter what life hands me, I feel determined to hand death back nothing but the “burned out castle” of a future. when the day comes, I want to have achieved and experienced all that I wanted to and central to that is being vigilant about my time. Another year has gone. Was it wisely spent?

Bounce Theatre turns eleven this year. As it moves towards its birthday, we have found ourselves asking similar questions. What has it achieved? How do we know? Is it all we hoped it would be at its original inception? And crucially: What do we want it to achieve in the future?These questions have many encouraging answers. There are testimonials from both artists and participants that evidence a body of work that changed lives, supported creative expansion and brought communities together. Students with complex needs have gone on to win awards, Bounce has expanded across several boroughs and it has gained a number of prestigious partners including both The Saatchi Gallery and the V&A. In many ways, Bounce has surpassed its original vision - a theatre that helps people. And yet it seems there is more to be done. 

There is more to be done because Bounce is a company that was made in response to evolution - we learn, we Bounce back, we grow forward.It is a company that helps people but what does it do? How we measure it in a way that is empirical and can be shown? And crucially What needs should it be serving? 

The following series of blogs forms a loose narrative of Bounce’s adventures in researching some of these questions. We’re finding out exactly what we all need to survive, and looking at some of the ways that Bounce can answer those needs better. The hope is that over time, our work will form a real basis for meaningful transformation and that, when Bounce is 12, the best gift we have will be change.