The Power of Performance

The Power of Performance

In 2014, Nottingham Playhouse approached one of our Partners, SEA (Services for Empowerment and Advocacy), regarding access to the theatre for people experiencing homelessness.

The Playhouse Team wanted to show that theatre is accessible to everyone, and SEA was on-board immediately. Working together, SEA and Nottingham Playhouse explored the idea of a project that would enable people experiencing complex needs (it was agreed to incorporate all complex needs not just homelessness), to participate in a piece of work performed within the theatre itself. It was essential that the rehearsals took place in a safe environment, and the dynamics of the group were inclusive and supportive. SEA actively sought people to attend the group, and provided support during and after each session. The Nottingham Playhouse Team, led by Fiona Buffini (Associate Director) facilitated the creative process, which after 12 weeks resulted in a life-enhancing experience, with 15 vulnerable people channeling years of challenge and difficulties into a unique performance.

The impact of the piece was significant. One of the participants talked about the impact on his mental ill health... "I have schizophrenia and this really helped to make the voices go away, it really improved by having my mind focused on something else."

With such a positive outcome, it was agreed that the project should run again. Fast-forward to 2017 and the project has just completed a fourth run. Participants included a number of people experiencing multiple needs within Nottingham City, including Opportunity Nottingham Beneficiaries. The group started as just 'people in a room', all with a story to tell, but not sure about telling it within a room of 'strangers'. The Nottingham Playhouse Team, SEA and Opportunity Nottingham Beneficiary Ambassadors worked closely together, to ensure that the group dynamics worked, and that the everyone felt able to share their thoughts and feelings. After ten weeks of rehearsals, the group created a piece titled 'Missing' – a rich tapestry of memories created by the group.

For participants, the process was sometimes challenging, sometimes scary, and sometimes emotional. But most importantly, all participants agreed that by the end of the process they felt more confident, and that the impact of meeting others with similar experiences was invaluable.

A fifth run is set for 2018, and moving forward it is hoped that the project will run three to four times each year. Opportunity Nottingham will be involved each time with a Beneficiary Ambassador and Expert Citizen always joining in the fun!

If you want to find out more call SEA on 0115 845 6493.

Feedback from Nottingham Playhouse:

"It is an incredible privilege to work together every week. We have become a tight-knit and courageous Theatre Company. Where each week we witness company members take new risks, explore different techniques and find their own voice and inner strength." Manya Benenson, Participation Officer

Feedback from participants:

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the drama group. Had a laugh. Felt accepted. Felt part of a group. Felt happier."

"I feel that I can be myself, without self-consciousness." 



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