July 19 2011

Drama at Mary Immaculate High School

Eyeball

We were introduced to the school by Cardiff City Councils’ Anti-Bullying Officer. A small group of Muslim boys in the school were struggling on a number of levels, not least the cultural clash of being part of a Catholic school. The boys were asylum seekers, some of whom were living with foster families, others whom were living in independent accommodation. We arranged a series of 6 drama workshops with the Deputy Headteacher. The workshops were facilitated by Tracy Evans and Jason Camilleri.

The focus on the workshops were:

  1. To encourage confidence in speaking
  2. To provide a space for the boys to talk about their experience of school and life in Cardiff
  3. To listen to them
  4. To have fun and develop creative expression
  5. To provide a safe and positive time and space within their school week

The workshops were very successful and generated a very positive environment for both the facilitators and the pupils. The pupils chose a general theme of living in Cardiff, and this was explored through a variety of Drama games and activities. The pupils were able to share their feelings about living in Cardiff and they were also able to share experiences they had as young children in their own countries.

In the final week we made a short presentation to the Deputy Headteacher and another teacher who worked with the boys closely. In the first part, each of the boys had selected a game they had enjoyed during the project. They gave the instructions on how to play the game to the group, and facilitated it while we played. This was a major development for one of the pupils in particular, whose English was at a very basic level, or more significantly whose confidence in speaking English was lower than the others. He gave the instructions clearly and was very empowered by this simple activity.

In the second part of the sharing, we presented a series of short scenes that were set around Cardiff. Some were based on real experiences the boys had had. The group performed this with great concentration, confidence and enjoyment. The pupil whose English was the weakest, suddenly began to ad-lib in the scenes, making very appropriate and funny verbal contributions. This was incredible to witness.

At the end of the final session the boys were presented with a certificate, which they were very proud of. The teachers praised them. The facilitators thanked them. They left with smiles on their faces.