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.’
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
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