Theatre of Joy: Our Projects
Creating Freedom facllitate workshops for people with disabilities and other populations of people who are dealing with challenges in communication, self-discipline, self-confidence and empathy. We have been working for seven years, providing astonishing outcomes in workshops and production projects ranging between 5 days to 10 weeks. We have done work with people with both mental and physical disabilities, deaf and blind people, prisoners and ex-offenders, refugees, people with chronic mental health issues and other under-served populations.
"You have achieved more with our men in 2 weeks than
our team of 5 psychiatrists have achieved in 5 years."
Alexander Romanov, Governor of Prison Colony 29, Perm, Russia
Please enjoy the videos, images and stories below of some of our projects. We hope to see your community here soon!
Anyone can make art: This is our work
The following videos are from a series of acting workshops and rehearsals over 6 weeks at NHS Horton Haven Rehabilitation Unit for people with long-term chronic mental health issues. A group of residents were taught acting using techniques from the Science of Acting. The characters, story and scenes were then developed through improvisations.
After the project, staff commented that general relations and morale in the whole center improved. Some participants moved on much faster than expected in their care pathway as a result of the project. On the second project many more staff got involved, having seen the results of the first year. Staff reported huge impact on the participants: people who had been monosyllabic for months were suddenly engaged and very communicative; there was a reduction in symptoms of psychosis and schizoaffective disorders; isolated individuals were engaged, smiling and laughing; staff-resident relations relaxed and improved.
"Alex is not just directing a play but healing their souls with his attitude, his stunning intelligence and his ability to get out of difficult situations with humour and tact. The lads did not figure him out right away but when they did they accepted Alex's authority and listened to him absolutely."
Drugoi, Russia’s top blogger
"Wonderful work, I don't know how you managed to produce this. A real service."
Dr. Joseph Pillai, Consultant Psychiatrist
"Very important work"
Professor Peter Fonagy OBE
What are the workshops like?
Our workshops are designed for 10-20 participants as well as volunteers, family members and/or care givers. Typically, each workshop will be 5-12 days, 3 hours per day, with a 2-hour session for care professionals and actors, and directors, to learn the methodologies they can implement in their work. At the end of the workshop, the participants present a theater production to their community. Theater productions are 15-30 minutes, depending on the abilities of the participants and the length of the workshop. We can provide workshops anywhere in the world.
Through this work, people with physical and mental disabilities are able to develop awareness, sensitivity, empathy, self-discipline, confidence, improved levels of attention and focus and the ability to resolve difficult personal issues and relationships.
The audience's vew of the performers and what they are capable of is transformed. Family or institutional morale and relations are improved.
Can you provide training for social workers and other care professionals?
Yes! Often we will run a morning session with care professionals, actors, directors, and family members to teach them our methodologies. We can adjust our training curricuulm to your needs.
What outcomes can we expect for our participants?
First and foremost, our projects are fun for all participants and volunteers. Participants learn valuable skills through joyful play.
Self-awareness, sensitivity, empathy - developed through exploring emotions of the characters and working with others
Self-discipline - through the need to create a final production by a deadline, and play a part with correct timing
Confidence - through seeing a work from start to finish and receiving positive feedback
Ability to work with others - as the project occurs in a group
Improved levels of attention and focus
Ability to resolve difficult personal issues and relationships - through seeing how their actions affect others in real-time
Contribution - the knoweldge that others are enjoying the work they created
Do you work with other populations?
Yes. In addition to our work with people with mental and physical disabilities, learning difficulties and special needs, we have done extensive work in prisons and work in refugee camps, as well as work with victims of crime and at film festivals and with groups of children who just want to have fun. We particularly love to work with people with disabilities, because of the immediate contribution to the community.
An Explosion of Joy: Deaf/Blind Theater
The following video shows our work with deaf-blind people on a 10-week project (1 session per week). The result was an interactive performance where the audience physically followed the artists as they moved in the theatre space singing sea shanties, banging their drums and dancing against the backdrop of a desert island. Props like UV paint, drums, coconuts and sand were used to create a multi-sensory experience for both the performers and the audience demonstrating the power of non-verbal communication.
I joined Sense of Space to overcome personal barriers.The workshops gave me the confidence to deal with my sight and hearing difficultiesand not try to conceal them in order to fit in. It was a great boost being involved in a project where the focus was always on our talents rather than our disabilities.
Marcus Inniss, paticipant
I thought it was going to be just putting on a good play to entertain people blah, blah, blah; but now, I feel it’s doing something for us, I think it’s educating us. It’s a journey.
Rachel Day, participant
Theatre Projects with Disabled Children in Moscow and Perm, Russia
“This week was like a mind explosion, you have changed our lives” Specialist, working with children
In a groundbreaking project for Russia, we led two 7-day projects with disabled children, their parents and disability specialists. In the mornings we trained the specialists how to bring creative work with disabled children into their practice. In the afternoons we were joined by 15 children with various mental and physical disabilities and their parents, and worked as a group towards a short performance.
“He came home every day with shining eyes, he has opened up completely this week. He is a different boy!”
Father, talking about his son after the performance in Perm
We used individual and group exercises to develop the core skills of acting and performance: imagination, movement, coordination, group understanding, listening, focus, communication and creating a character. With constant positive feedback and celebration of accomplishment, the children gained in confidence and skill, and even those who had seemed the most hard to reach or withdrawn were fully engaged by the time of performance on the final day.
“We learned how to use our imagination; with imagination, everything is a little more interesting” Participant
Meanwhile the specialists learned how to engage creatively with children, how to draw more out of them, how to form positive, communicative relations with the parents and also how to engage more fully with their own lives.
“With the young people who had some specific behavioral features - caused by autism and mental health problems - it was amazing to see how their attitudes towards the group of participants and towards their own activity changed: from being closed and out of contact into an open, joyful attitude and a willingness to share, improve and perform. The life-skills of children with disabilities during these 5 days of activity achieved a gigantic step forward - an improvement that a psychologist like me can only dream of achieving.”
Vasanta Romanovna, Lead Child Psychotherapist, Oradnoye Centre, Moscow