Other Ways Of Being

The ‘Other Ways Of Being’ commission has started with already amazing results in St Helens.

The nationally acclaimed Geese Theatre Company is running this project to explore the stigma and experiences of people suffering with alcohol misuse issues. ‘Other Ways Of Being’ is the third of three commissions funded by Arts Council England and exploring how the arts can be used to improve people’s health and wellbeing. Alcohol misuse is a big issue for many people in St Helens, who often don’t know who to turn to or feel too self-conscious to ask for help. Through a series of theatrical workshops it explores participants’ issues around alcohol problems, culminating in a film or performance for those who want to perform live. St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing Councillor Gareth Cross said: “This is a fantastic project that will give participants the opportunity to explore issues around their drinking and create a new performance exploring stigma in a safe environment with a fantastic theatre company.”

The commision have targeted two venues to run this programme out. One, the Central Library, and two, the Addaction Centre. Lead practitioner is Adrian Dakers who orchestrates the sessions. The first two weeks saw five attend the Library group and fifteen attend the Addaction group. Adrian said ‘The sessions were fantastic and there is a real buzz with regards to this project, Gary and I are happy with the start and I know that the Library group will slowly grow in numbers.’

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Adrian with the group where participants are provided with an opportunity to creatively explore their relationship to alcohol.

By week three both groups had maintained their numbers but with both drop off’s and new starters. (something we expected). The two groups are distinctly different. The library group quiet, focused and proactive . The Addaction sessions, noisy, vibrant and very open.  Adrian, Daniel and Liz from Geese Theatre Company have thrown all sorts of weird and wonderful exercises at the groups and they have all embraced this active and thought provoking style of working. So far the groups have explored the following: The use of masks, simple theatre techniques such as the use of brief mimed sequences, and used active, experiential exercises to provoke discussions around alcohol, perception and stigma. It is fair to say that the creative journey that each group wish to take during this project has truly begun.  Watch this space as both groups are embracing the opportunity to have a public voice, and through the arts they will creatively deliver their message on Thursday 12th December.

Adrian Dons The Masks

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Martin, one of the participants graciously wrote his feelings for the project :

I have been attending the Wednesday afternoon workshops at Addaction on Bickerstaff Street. The groups have been good fun and quite challenging too. Adrian, Dan and Liz are the workers and they showed us techniques to help us build good communication and confidence. The Geese work using masks, the masks showed me how in addiction we sometimes hide ourselves behind different masks, like anger or pretending to be a certain way, like being a joker or an angel. This was mind blowing to see as Adrian put the masks on and immediately transformed into the different personas, it was even a bit uncomfortable at times, because it was close to the bone. We have a laugh during the groups and they are very well attended, we are starting to rehearse for the final production which will be filmed before we perform live in December!’

Role play abounds at Addaction

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‘Others Ways of Being’….. word is spreading.

Adrian Taking Part In The Workshop In The Library

Adrian taking part in the workshop in the library

After two community taster session days, ‘Other Ways of Being’ has commenced!  Adrian, Daniel and Liz from Geese Theatre Company delivered sessions in the Addaction Recovery Centre, The Hope Centre and within the iHUB room in St.Helens Central Library.

Geese Theatre Company are specialists in delivering creative projects with people who might have little previous experience of the arts and at providing people with opportunities to explore issues which are directly relevant to their lives.

The taster sessions were aimed at informing people about the project  – a  series of theatre workshops exploring participant’s experiences of alcohol which will  culminate in a creative presentation in December in the Library.

Those people who participated in the taster sessions commented on how fun and thought provoking the sessions were and many of them have already signed up to be part of the longer project.

The Project WIll Utilise Masks To Explore People's Emotions

The Project WIll Utilise Masks To Explore People’s Emotions

Does this sound like something you would like to get involved in? Don’t worry if you missed the taster session – either contact Gary Conley on 01744 677449 or email him on garyconley@sthelens.gov.uk for more information or come along to the first session on Wednesday 9th October, 10am – 12pm @ the iHub room in St.Helens Central  library.

Masks Sisters Tickle The Ivories After 50 Years

The recent masks trip took in the very sunny city of Liverpool in July.

Due to holidays, the group wasn’t as large as normal but the participants were as enthusiastic as ever.

First on the agenda was a visit to the historic Bluecoats Building to see exhibitions ‘Portfolio’ and ‘Vide Installations’ by St Helens own Claire Weetman.

Walking through town to the pier head we stumbled across the ‘Tickle The Ivories’ installation where visitors are invited to sit down and play a community piano.

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This is the time when Liverpool transforms into a live music venue as six pianos take centre stage for the world’s only official piano busking festival. Your supposed to book your performance, but when Gary heard Masks Sisters Dorothy and Christine say that they haven’t played the piano together for 50 years, well, it was just too big of an opportunity to miss.  The lid was lifted, the girls sat down and before you could say ‘chopsticks’ the girls had turned back the clock back bashing out tune after tune to an appreciated crowd of shoppers. An impromptu moment but one the sisters will never forget. Dorothy said ‘It took us both back to being young girls and happier times where TV’s, websites, facebook and twitter did not exist, the only recreation we both had was dads old piano. Who would have thought that being part of this ‘Masks’ group would have evoked that’.

Both Christine and Dorothy have started piano lessons again following this visit.

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PSD Referral Group Mask Up!

The PSD referral group which consists of service users referred to the arts by care managers, and members from the Helena Partnerships sheltered accommodation scheme at Martin Avenue Newton, continue you to flourish in their quest to create new works of art.

The Christmas Masks

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The group, mainly of ladies, with an age range of 52 to 80 have been working with Eastern European artist, presently residing in this country, Paola Passoul. Paola has introduced to the ladies many different art-forms raising the bar on their creativity and well being. Also, the group have integrated together to raise an understanding of living in a community group within a sheltered scheme. Not only has the level of art has been raised but also the misconceptions of life in a secure community setting has been allayed.

Proud Marion

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Marion A told me : ‘Gary, meeting this group has been a lifeline for me, I feel useful again and the future now holds very little fear if I have to move into this accommodation if my condition worsens.’  She also added : ‘Paola has been fantastic and I’m now doing art at a level I never thought I’d attain. The 3D garden picture we did, including my flowers, has given me such a buzz’.

Joan Behind The Mask!

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Tunnel Vision At The Citadel

Ramesh Meyyappan made a welcome second visit to St.Helens recently, treating an audience at the Citadel to his amazing mime acting.

Following on from his Ramesh75dpi21hilarious ‘This Side Up’ sketch, of which the central character is a postman, his Citadel show traced the fortunes of a train tunnel-supervisor  haunted by ghostly visions.

Ramesh’s mix of mime and performance had the audience captivated, his visual expression and full use of the stage set with striking lighting and intermittent use of a smoke machiRamesh75dpi15ne made for a tremendous spectacle.

The Glasgow-based, theatre practitioner tours nationally and internationally and continues to amaze audiences wherever he performs.

Break Free at Central Library

An artistic performance facilitated by Collective Encounters – a Liverpool-based professional arts organisation – and St Helens Council, has given a group affected by issues surrounding mental health the chance to air those issues via a live production.

Break Free was performed to a full house at Central Library by the group, which goes under the name of Another Way of Telling.

Break Free was a collaborative performance created over three months and funded by the Arts Council. The performance explored issues of mental illness and the strive for well-being and sought to end the stigma of mental health.

In three parts – Break Down, Break Through and Break Out – the performance  featured poetry, prose, live music, singing and performance.

Nigel Webster, a St Helens poet who took part in the performance said: “The six months we have spent as a team putting the production together has flown by. I got a great deal from the process: I learned how to work as a team member and how to manage my emotions. I also learnt how to be a better me,” explained Nigel, himself a member of the St Helens Mind group.

Aidan Jolly, director of Collective Encounters explained how the group had never performed before: “This really was a leap of faith. We met twice a week and held workshops which covered artistic movement and performance. We looked at writing collectively as well as producing individual pieces of work all of which came together in the final production.”

The performance had an amazing impact on audience members with some moved to tears.

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Masks brave the cold and enjoy Owen lighting up!

A centerpiece of the Edinburgh International Festival and recently staged in the docklands of Yokohama in Japan , the night-time work uses light, intentional movement and sound to change the way we see and feel about a chosen environment.

Hundreds of runners, including our own Owen Hutchings, (pictured) wore specially commissioned LED light suits created beautiful, choreographed patterns of light flowing through the streets and quays of Salford also incorporating over bridges and around public spaces and buildings. ‘Speed Of Light’ can be seen as a piece of abstract art on the grandest scale: monumental but surprisingly quiet and reflective.

If only the weather that evening was like !!!!

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