As an actor, trainer, drama facilitator and theatre practitioner, I have worked for over two and a half decades with disadvantaged and disaffected groups locally, regionally, nationally, in Europe and increasingly Internationally using drama & theatre methods for workshops projects and learning programmes in project delivery, development and management, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, community arts, mental health, local authority, education and social services.
I have been directly trained by various Theatre of the Oppressed practitioners in Europe and South america, Keith Johnstone, John Wright and practitioners from the Theatre in Prisons & Probation Network. I undertake regular contracts with NGO’s (Nicaragua, Australia, Hawaii, Bolivia, Slovenia Canada, India, Jamaica, South Africa, and throughout Europe) and was recently commissioned by Anne Peaker Centre (National Alliance for Arts in Criminal Justice), the National Body for Arts in Criminal Justice and Social Inclusion to run a series of train the trainer training programmes for educators.
I am the founder and director of Noh Budget Films where I have project managed numerous creative projects from conception to completion.
I use drama and theatre to encourage self-awareness and to assist individuals in exploring the idea of change and the impact that it may have on their lives. Within this framework they consider the complex web of connections between personal behaviour, choice and responsibility and broader social, economic and political factors.
I also develop multimedia based projects and programmes that explore the impact of behaviour on adults & young people and people at risk, their families and others. This is achieved by, looking at the causes and consequences of the actions that have led them to act/offend.
The projects and programmes themselves vary from more recreational, usually drama-based activities leading to theatre or digital multimedia productions, to projects and programmes that analyse and challenge behaviour and help them resist the forces of exclusion and institutionalisation as well build and develop key social/life skills.
Within these projects and programmes personal histories of a person can become the content of the session(s). Drama methodologies are used to explore the behaviour in question: what factors led to the offending behaviour/criminal action, could different decisions have been taken? Who suffers? What are the underlying drives?
I believe in the notion that individuals have the capacity to respond in different ways to pressures from friends, families or environment. Anti social behaviour is not always an inevitable consequence of personal difficulties, nor can it be validated as a career option. Other strategies are always available. To access and understand these however requires the participant to use imagination to deconstruct and critique what is familiar, and to envision alternative behaviours. The creative and performing arts have a particular appropriateness in offering a language within which these arguments and speculations can take place.
In my opinion and experience the most commonly cited benefits of my work (listed below) falls into two categories. One relates to the creative activity itself (e.g. participation in a drama workshop resulting in an improvement in acting skills). The other is by-product of the activity (e.g. an increase in self-confidence or communication skills).
- Educational achievement (learning about through an arts subject – basic and key skills)
- Improved attitudes and behaviour
- A reduced rate of re-offending
- Better ways of relating to other people
- Artistic, personal and social development (self-expression, communication, problem solving skills, team work etc)
- Fosters family and community ties
- Enhances learners’ ability to lead fulfilling lives in the community