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Drama is a powerful medium

In our Community View column in the Docklands and East London Advertiser, Communications Manager Stephen reveals how drama can be a way of encouraging young people to communicate.
Read the Docklands and East London Advertiser e-edition

Drama is a powerful medium

This is one of my favourite weeks at Half Moon; it’s when our Performance Works summer school for disabled young people aged 13-25 takes place. The programme allows them to work with theatre professionals to create a show for family and friends, using the full technical facilities of Half Moon Theatre.

Performance Works has been taking place for over 20 years (sometimes with a different name) and is built around nurturing the confidence and skills of all participants. Members of Solar (our Youth Theatre group for teenagers with disabilities) and their families, carers and educators tell us that there is little provision of specialist activities for them during the summer holidays. Performance Works provides them with a summer school where they create a new piece of performance using drama, music and movement.

is a powerful medium for encouraging communication in all its forms for people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially those who find verbal communication difficult. The summer school provides a great opportunity for some vulnerable and isolated young people to meet new people, whilst participating in challenging and rewarding activities, as well as having fun exploring issues relevant to them in a supportive group.

Feedback is very important. The young people are encouraged to tell us what they like and dislike about what they are doing and their preferences and decisions are always accommodated. For example, they will come up with a title for their show.

At the end of the week, we will also ask them what went well and what things they enjoyed the most. They are also encouraged to give positive and constructive feedback to each other throughout the whole process. Any lessons learnt are then fed into future planning sessions.

This year, participants will work with a theatre director, access workers (who act as ‘creative enablers’) and youth volunteers to create a performance in just five days. This year the group will be using cardboard as a stimulus to create the movement, props and sounds in the show. I’m particularly looking forward to the box orchestra, cardboard city and monster box sessions. We can’t wait to see what they produce!

Huge thanks to Merchant Taylors’ Charity for their continued support of this important programme. It’s the third year they have helped make it happen, and we are very grateful.

Stephen Beeny is the Communication Manager at Half Moon


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