April 28 2009

The Art of Emotion Project

Garw Valley Early Morning

We are working on a wide range of emotional health projects with different groups in the Bridgend area using drama and other creative activities. This project has been funded by The Arts Council of Wales as part of our Beacon Award development programme, and is also supported by Cymorth. Some of our current projects in this initiative include:

Caswell Clinic Drama Project

Our 10 week drama project at Caswell Clinic ended with an audio recording of scenes and songs which the group had created and worked on. This was a really successful project, with excellent feedback from participants, hospital staff and our facilitators, Ali Franks and Alison O’ Connor:

We started this project with a blank canvas. While we had both worked in secure settings before, this was the first time either of us had run a long term project in a secure psychiatric setting. How would the group respond to us? Would people feel comfortable enough to participate? How would the dynamic of the drama group fit in with the wider dynamic of the hospital setting? What if no-one came back?

Despite these initial doubts, the group very quickly became a strong and positive feature of Friday afternoons at the hospital. Each week 8-10 participants arrived, and several people described waking up on a Friday and looking forward to the group. The rehearsal room was always alive and active, laughter was frequently present and the freedom of ‘playing’ appeared to create a great sense of well-being.

The project relied heavily on improvisation. As facilitators we incorporated vocal and physical training, quick-fire impro games to develop spontaneity and trust, character work and scene creation.

The group took on a special identity, summed up by one of the Occupational Therapists who said at the end of the project,
“I haven’t been involved in a group like this for 20 years”.

This project was extremely informative to us as practitioners. We learnt a great deal from the participants and staff at Caswell, and thank them for the opportunity to experience this unique project.

(Alison O Connor, Drama Development Worker, Beacon Award Project)

Women’s Project – Genesis and Women’s Aid

This project is now in the rehearsal stage. The group of women have worked through a process of sharing their experiences and devising scenes based around their own stories. We have then worked with them to create a script; the performance will incorporate live theatre and film. Film worker Tracy Pallant is joining the project after Easter to lead the filming process where group members will direct and assist. The performance and debate will take place on May 15th hopefully at Bridgend Recreation Centre (to be confirmed).

A Long Way Down

We received some great feedback from the Arts Council of Wales about this recent project. Three members of the Arts Council attended a performance and discussion at Coleg Glan Hafren in February.

Feedback included:

“It’s wonderful to see a show that reminds you how great live theatre can be”

“In creating and staging a play that is not only an important piece of drama but is also a powerful springboard for addressing a challenging current issue, Valley and Vale have pulled off a rare achievement.”

As well as the excellent response this project received from audience members, it also provided a unique opportunity for local young actors to participate in a professional theatre production. We feel creating opportunities for local people to participate in high quality theatre work is an important part of our work as community drama practitioners.