I have chosen to do the speculative design for L’Enfants et les Sortileges; a magical opera by Maurice Ravel, and libretto by Colette.
One of my favourite artists that we worked with, was a professional special effects specialist. He brought in a head, a severed hand, numerous fingers, and also showed us on his laptop different work he had done for film and TV.
The residents of the PIPE were really excited about this and we all got the chance to paint our own severed finger.
I also volunteered to have a ‘zombie bite’ on my arm and enjoyed watching him apply it, and paint it to look realistic.
- Visiting the prisons was a highlight for me, as I had never experienced that kind of environment before and it was very different to the approved premises we were working at for the PD project. It was also a highlight for me as my supervisor, Rachel, had asked me if I wanted to run a session in the two prisons, based on some of the work I do at university.
- I obviously didn’t want to turn down this opportunity, but was slightly nervous at the thought of running a session with the inmates. I took a lot of time to think about what kind of activity I could do with them, bearing in mind I was very limited on what materials I could take into the prison environment.
- I eventually came up with the idea of creating marionette style puppets, and then using them as a drama tool. I was told I wasn’t allowed scissors, strong glue, any form or blue-tack or putty, anything sharp, and so I started to understand that I would have to re-evaluate the whole process of making a puppet, as the way we did it with Sean in first year would be completely unfeasible.
- I did some research and finally decided on creating them out of newspaper and tape, with the bendy part of a straw as the joints.
- Although they were sceptical at first when I pulled out a tangled, slightly battered puppet from my bag, upon arrival at the prison, they all gave it a go and at the end told me they were glad they took part as it had taken their mind off other things.
- I began my placement by reading a lot of policies and procedures, and by undertaking my Health and Safety induction. Although slightly tedious, I got to learn lots about the company, where it came from, and its missions and values today.
- I was interested to learn it had origins in Forum Theatre, created by Augusto Boal, and their journey from being a research centre in the University of Manchester, to the separate organisation that they operate as today.
- I was then told the kind of work I would be undertaking in the following weeks;
- Mondays: Working with BA Drama and MA Applied Theatre students, in a workshop with a different guest speaker each week.
- Tuesdays: Arden School of Drama working on developing a workshop suitable for prison.
- Wednesdays: PD project; Stafford House, Toxteth and Bradshaw House, Bury.
- Thursdays: PD project; Edith Rigby House, Preston.
- Fridays: PD project; Resettle, Speke.
- The PD (Personality Disorder) project is something that TiPP are working on in association with NOMs (National Offender Management Service), in order to make a short film about life on the offender/PD pathway.
- It aims to explore their experiences of being an offender with a personality disorder, and the services/support available to them. They do this by visiting approved premises for people who are just out of prison, called PIPEs (Psychologically Informed Prison/Probation Environments).
- They undertake various visual arts activities in order for the residents to try new things and participate in group work, whilst also being asked to talk about their experiences. This is filmed and audio recorded, and will eventually be made into a short film.
- When I first decided to go out on placement in second term, I realised I wanted to do something completely different, and unlike any of the placement providers that had been offered to us.
- I knew my options were either Nottingham or Manchester, however I really wanted to take advantage of originally coming from Manchester, and therefore being able to do a placement in my hometown. I also had a huge interest in theatre for non-traditional audiences and participants, as my previous two IRPs had been based on disability and prison theatre.
- I therefore decided to do a little research into what options I had, and I stumbled upon the website for TiPP Manchester. I decided to write an e-mail to the director, Simon Ruding, on the off-chance that they would be accommodating, and thankfully they were.
- TiPP stands for Theatre in Prison and Probation Centre which is a registered charity in England and Wales.
- It was established in 1992 as a development centre and today aims to be recognised as an international expert leading the development and understanding of effective arts-based practices for socially marginialised people, particularly those caught up in the CJS.
- Their office is within the University of Manchester but they are a separate organisation from the Uni, although they help to run the Applied Theatre MA course and a Prison Theatre module on the BA drama course, which I got to be involved with.
- Their mission is to use the unique power of the arts to stimulate positive change for the benefit of individuals and related communities within the CJS.