Walking with Toddlers


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Walking piece details

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‘Walking with Toddlers’ is a comic play rooted in performance studies and gender theory which creatively considers how maternity, performativity, and social expectations both shape and are shaped by our walking environments. It explores how the role of motherhood and care-giving affect women’s free movement through the world. Heddon and Turner have identified that discourses of walking “tend to presume a universal Walker, whose experience is uninflected by gender” (2012, 224) – however women, and especially mothers, experience conditions placed upon their walking which affect their pedestrian agency (see, e.g, Heddon and Turner 2010, Philps 2021).

‘Walking with Toddlers’ emerges from a desire to engage with such tensions. It evolved from discussions between parents at the University of Bristol as we worked on a project called ‘Walking and Re-Creation’. We recognised that brisk, healthy and recreational walking – the oft-promoted 10000 steps a day – is often at odds with walking alongside toddlers. However, while young children may frustrate efforts to walk, they also encourage us to engage mindfully and creatively with our environments; to walk in a way guided by process rather than destination. This mindful walking has the benefit of facilitating a deeper and richer engagement with one’s surroundings, having potential positive effects on the walker’s mental well-being – as demonstrated by Steff’s journey through the play.

‘Walking with Toddlers’ thus captured some of our shared experiences as mothers, and aimed to comically appeal to others in the same situation or phase of life. The comedy is based in observation and recognition, but it also hopes to recreate people’s experience of the world immediately beyond their door and reframe some of the cultural pressures of parenthood. This is where the element of re-creation comes in. How can we learn from our children to look at the walking world differently?


Steff - Alex Tregear
Minarra - Trish Ferguson-Jay
Billy - Sebi Winfield
Mrs Mabel - Eleanor Rycroft
Male drivers - Tim Wilderspin

Written and Produced by Angie Belcher and Eleanor Rycroft
Directed by Angie Belcher
Sound Design by Tim Wilderspin
Original music by Patrick Farrell
Chaperone Tori Winfield

Recorded at Legacy Studio, Bristol
With many thanks to the Brigstow Institute and the Division of Research, Enterprise and Innovation at the University of Bristol for their support of this project.

Eleanor Rycroft

Eleanor Rycroft

SWS Award winner

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