Be our Valentine

Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day. All meaningful festivals in the Christian calendar, all of which spark a wave of commercialism, and inevitably a backlash from those who want to rediscover the “true meaning” of the celebration.

In one version, the origins of St Valentine’s Day stems from a Roman Priest, who was carrying out secret marriages after Emperor Claudius prohibited the marriage of young people in the belief that such a kinship would be detrimental when soldiers went to battle. As a result he was imprisoned, tortured, and executed, but not before supposedly healing the prison guard’s blind daughter, and writing her a note before he died, which said, “from your Valentine.”

No amount of flowers, chocolates or novelty stuffed toys will outweigh what is such an interesting story. So as Valentine’s day comes around, we are going to share some other very interesting stories with you at ARC, not about Roman Priests and torture, but specifically about love and kindness in all its forms and perceptions.

Artists Andy Field and Ira Brand recognise that love comes in many forms and is expressed towards different things, and in their show, put your sweet hand in mine they invite you to consider all the many different meanings that being in love might have. They invite you to imagine yourself in Paris or imagine yourself looking up and unexpectedly catching the eye of the person sitting opposite you in their intimate new show put your sweet hand in mine.

Bringing Stockton together in Tell Someone Special, a community show about love, Encounter productions are asking the local people aged 9 – 90, to take part in a series of workshops that include, writing, singing, dance and theatre, to explore why we love, whom we love and the nature of communication in our most important relationships.

In 2011, when riots exploded onto the streets of London, Bernadette Russell of theatre company, White Rabbit was jolted into action to promote kindness across the capital. So much so, that she spent every day of 2012 (366 days in total as it was a leap year), offering a kind gesture to a complete stranger. Sometimes these acts were unrequited, sometimes they were even rebuffed, but Bernadette was resolute in her mission, and her show 366 Days of Kindness, together with an exhibition and interactive installation, documents and retells the journey of that year.

For those of you who want to continue along the road of love and kindness long after the last heat-shaped chocolate truffle has been demolished, we will have the right story for you here at ARC.