Monday, 12 October 2015

Time To Say Goodbye

Acting skills and performance for people with special needs offers valuable new learning for all, confidence building and an opportunity to be part of something quite special. We have been working with two groups in this way this year and we are so pleased with the new friends we have made and the success of both performances. At the heart of this work was making sure each group member felt valued and respected, that we had plenty of fun and that we used the group's ideas to put a performance together. Treating each person as a professional actor added to the high quality of work produced. It helped us all to be clear with what was pretend and what was real.

The level of commitment and focus from group members was much higher than our project organisers anticipated and I think that is at the heart of this type of interaction. If your expectations are high in regards to what a particular group can achieve, they are usually met. I remember training to be a teacher and being given this great advice - 'before you even walk into the classroom, imagine the students will behave impeccably and you will easily teacher them what they need to learn.' This high expectation works in so many ways, as long as you add some flexibility, light-hearted humour and realism to the occasion!

Drama and puppetry skills made this all-inclusive course great fun to be part of, with the addition of creating props and choosing music for a performance to share with others. We were asked to explore the sensitive subjects of death and growing old, but even with these topics we had plenty of laughter. By creating a safe place to talk openly with respect, we could all express our feelings within set guidelines of what was appropriate within the group. We could use acting and puppetry to express these feelings while protecting the participants. I will never forget this work and hope to continue with another project similar to this in the future.