Thursday, 4 August 2011

Pantomime Project

Another update on one of this years great projects from Alison a member of the project group. 

Following a second year drama module ‘Devising in the Community’ two fellow drama students and I decided to run our own project voluntarily in our final year at university. The knowledge gained through the module along with the support of KUSU Volunteering enabled us to run a very successful project, resulting in the performance of a pantomime at a drop-in centre for mental health service users.

As well as a wonderful end result, the process of weekly workshops in preparation for the pantomime was extremely rewarding and enjoyable. Due to the project being completely ours, we had control over what we did and how we did it which was a really fantastic experience and further enhanced our learning. We decided that no body should be excluded from the project and welcomed and encouraged people joining in on all levels, such as prop making, mask making and scenery making, we even roped in a few members of staff. The idea was to have a non hierarchal group, where we were all valid and as important as one another.

Tegan, Sophia and Alison at the KUSU Volunteering Awards back in May

Budgeting for costumes, props, set and programmes was quite testing but also great experience to have to keep within a tight budget…..which we did!! We were able to apply doing something that we loved and felt passionate about to a real life situation and as a result saw fantastic results with the enjoyment of the people who took part and also the audience. Mental Health is an area that has a lot of negative stigma and the drop- in centre where we ran our workshops and performed the panto is visited by members of our community who are vulnerable, isolated and neglected. For them it was especially meaningful that someone would come in on a regular basis voluntarily and help them to create and explore their artistic creativity. We saw huge improvements in confidence and trust towards us and each other and many positive comments regarding the final performance such us ‘we couldn’t believe that Carol could stand up there and play that character’, when Carol rarely speaks to anyone in everyday life.

The performance in progress!
Personally the project made me realize how important it is for different members of our community to mix and show that we do care about each other. We have seen first hand that this really does make a difference to peoples lives. Following on from the project (which lasted three months) I am currently continuing it independently. The help that we received from KUSU Volunteering and the experience of running the project ourselves gave me the confidence to continue on my own. Additionally I am now in paid employment for Mind and although the drama is still voluntary I am very happy to be working within my field of interest. I would encourage anyone thinking about setting up their own project to go ahead and go for it!!

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