Richmond is often perceived as an affluent Borough but this perception masks the reality that the Borough is made up of contrasting communities. There is a disproportionately high number of Disabled, Elderly or chronically ill people. There is poverty as well as wealth: 16 people sleep rough in Richmond at any one time. We have brought together a range of people including Disabled, Elderly and Homeless People, as well as people from BAME backgrounds. We are an Inclusive People's Theatre Company and we work with actors and non-actors to make participatory theatre about the participants' real experiences. We run workshops with the at-risk people we work with and these build to performances that show episodes from people's lives: it is a snapshot of reality, "A Living Documentary". Spectators participate in our productions, which are performed to local community audiences. Before COVID-19, audience participation was by interacting with the actors on stage. Now we have adapted & innovated.
What we'll deliver:
Why it's a great idea:
The project brings communities together by involving local Disabled People, Homeless People, Elderly People and Ethnic Minorities as actors and audience. To devise plays our team use drama therapy techniques, games and exercises, storytelling, voice and movement work to draw out the participants' own stories in a safe and supportive environment. Participants will learn performance skills, have the opportunity to lead workshops themselves, tell their stories and express their creativity and unique artistic talents. An empowering process, allowing participants to connect to their inner voices and make a play that speaks their truth. The performance will showcase the creative ideas of marginalised groups who feel demonised by both the media and government. These are groups that are experiencing increased levels of condemnation, discrimination and isolation due to COVID-19 and enforced shielding. It will be participatory, involving the community audience as problem-solvers & change-makers.
Steps to get it done:
Our performances change spectators' perceptions of "vulnerable" people. Our work has a profoundly positive effect on our participants' mental health. We have received much praise for our workshops and performances. Below is just some of the positive feedback. From partners: "The training was amazing! We would recommend @IGNITEMEWT in a heartbeat. Great real life examples, good discussions and helpful ways we can make sure Marble Hill is a place to welcome everyone. You all deserve every penny and we are pleased to help train our volunteers and staff" - Marble Hill Park. "We’re really pleased to be a part of @IGNITEMEWT as part of the @MertonCIL AGM. Brilliant event!" - Safety Net People First. "A huge thank you to @IGNITEMEWT and their performers Bryony, Emma, Faisal, Adam, Gina and John who delivered an amazing and powerful drama performance highlighting how the pandemic has affected Disabled people - inspired by the actors lived experiences. We will share on YT soon!" - Merton CIL.
About the space
We work with people from across the London area through our online project. We are based in South West London, primarily Richmond and also working in Merton and Hammersmith & Fulham. These are areas that are perceived as affluent, however this perception masks the poaverty that exists and disabled people face the same discrimination as elsewhere
London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
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