Thursday, 14 May 2009

A Quick Afterword

After requests from people both inside and outside of the group, I have spoken to the ladies at The Mulberry Centre and I am looking to lead another course of workshops in the summer!

p.s. I haven't quite finished my workshops, got one more left then a closing session the following week, so I will make sure I post what goes on anyway!

Looking back... Over my Workshops

It’s amazing how much you can learn in such little time. I am coming to the end of three wonderful years at St. Mary's University, and I can honestly say I've learnt more in the last 3 months than ever before. Because for me, I've learnt so much more than any lecture, book or essay can ever teach you. I've learnt skills that, as well as to produce what I believe to be my best work, will help me so much for when I finally leave.

Focusing upon my community project, learning how to teach and lead workshops with adults has been an exciting and fulfilling task. Working out how to plan, structure and evaluate workshops to suit the needs of a diverse group was a gradual learning process, and it definitely got easier with time the more I got to know them. Initially I thought it would be hard to work with people that are ill, only because I saw myself as a very sensitive person and thought I would easily get upset. However, because I got to know them as individuals, I didn't label them by their illness and did not allow that shadow to hang over their head.

The project has certainly given plenty back to the community, primarily a new activity they didn't realise they would enjoy. Drama can also have a stigma attached to it, being pushed aside for stuck up thespians to execute and middle-class communities to enjoy. However, I hope I have proved to this community that there are so many different ways the realms of drama can be of service, and this is one of them. As I have mentioned in previous weeks, their confidence dramatically improved, and it has given these people a chance to explore, take risks and above all, enjoy themselves. I hope they have learnt all different things about themselves too; including how proud they should be that they were brave enough to take part, and how proud I am of them to put their problems aside and to let themselves go.

As much as this project was intended to give to the community, The Mulberry Centre has actually given so much back to me. As well as believing that every town in the world should possess a ‘Mulberry Centre’ of their own, this community has shown me that not every part of having the disease is all death and dismay. There is a huge sense of hope and possibility that fills each room with warmth and comfort, and I only hope that my project has added to it’s magnificence.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Workshop 5... It's Assessment Time!

So after a rocky 4th workshop, I decided it was wise and best for everyone if we stick to the safe structure that we had been following throughout the course and carry on with plenty of games and warm-ups, followed by improvisation and devised small performances.

By this point, I have rung dry all of the resources I have been using (we have played over 40 games in 4 sessions!) and was getting quite worried as these games had been so successful. However, Mr. Google aided me to find even more brilliant and exciting games and exercises to carry on with. I found out that I was going to get assessed this week, but I wasn't sure who by. I'm going to be honest, I was very anxious and annoyed that I wasn't going to be assessed by someone who a) hasn't taught me before, and b) I had never met before. I have put so much hard work and passion into this project and was so worried that whoever came to watch me wasn't going to both recognise my efforts and see how much the workshops are benefiting the people involved.

The objectives I set for this week's workshop were:
  • Focus upon the following elements of drama and performance that we have introduced and developed: (I then drew a mind map and asked everyone what elements they believed we had worked on) which included imagination, concentration, communication, voice projection, delivery, body and audience awareness etc.
  • Explore Improvisation using "motivation", "climax" and quick thinking.

I had a lovely surprise when I arrived at the centre to see that a boy that had come to the 1st workshop but had been unable to attend the rest, had come to join us again. He is much younger than everyone else and I was worried that because of this he wouldn't come again, but he was really excited to catch up on what he had missed and get stuck in with the fun.

We started the workshops as we always do by discussing what we had done the week before and getting everyone thinking about what we have actually achieved over the previous weeks. As we began to start the games, I thought it might be nice for Matt (who came to assess me) to get involved. The group were more than happy for him to do so! We played with rhythm, impulse thinking and voice projection to start with, and one of the games was called 'You', where we sat in a circle and one by one pointed at someone and said 'you'. This person had to do the same to someone else a bit louder and more gesture. This carried on getting louder and louder with more and more gestures and movement. It turned into somewhat of a slanging match with the louder it got, the more vicious and angry they became, which was so amusing to watch!

Another game that they loved with 'Yes, lets!" We had the theme of getting ready for a party and everyone got so into it. We were all running around like 6 year-olds and were knackered afterwards!!

Moving onto the performance section, I got everyone into pairs and gave them a line each they had to say, which they had to make up a situation they could have said them. For example, one of them was, A: "Stop It!" and B says: "Make Me!". They all came up with brilliant unique situations and you could see their improvements from how fast they were thinking of them. I was giving them a minute and a half, and they were ready in 30-40 seconds! One particular pair that were brilliant involved one man (who is 77) and a woman. For these lines, the man started jumping around with his hands up in the air like a child while the woman tickled him!

Before they started this exercise, I began to explain that I wanted them to consider the motivation of the character they were playing in order for them to really push their performance. Also, I said I wanted to see a 'climax', or a pivotal point in which the two motivated forces collide. When allowed to get on with it, I went round to each group and made sure they understood exactly what I meant. These rules applied to the next exercise too, and the difference in the standard of work they were producing was amazing. What I had been worrying about the past weeks trying to get them to devise more solid performances was banished just by introducing these simple ideas. Some were so inventive in their climaxes, they had Matt taking a cameo role as an Alien!

This week went so well, and just flowed so naturally. I think its safe to say the group are so comfortable with each other now and really enjoying what they are doing. They are taking risks and being ever so creative with both games and exercises. They are willing to do anything for fun and this makes the workshops so easy and fun to lead. Its a shame they're coming to an end!

It was obvious that this format was what the group needed and would be staying for the remainder of the course. I agreed with them that for the 'performance day', we will play everyone's favourite games and exercises, and whoever wants to perform can do so. I have said that they may invite whoever they wish to come and see what we have been doing, (I know quite a few people around the centre, families and friends have been interested) and they can bring food and drink too.

Just before we finished the session, one of the men asked if we could all have a photo together. Matt kindly agreed to take the photo and we all sat on the wall outside in the sunshine. I asked him why he wanted the photo so urgently and he said his doctor wanted to see it. A bit puzzled, I asked him why. He told me that since he had been visiting the Mulberry Centre his health had improved dramatically, (in his words, before he came here, he was 'almost dead'), and his doctor couldn't believe his transformation. This just proves that it isn't just drugs and surgery that help someone to get better, their well being is equally important. And if we can help someone revive their happiness and health through drama and laughter, there is a happy home for it at The Mulberry Centre.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Workshops 3 & 4... Time to realise what we're here for.

Good Afternoon Bloggers! I hope everyones projects are going well now we are edging so close to the end!!

I have had an absolutely mad few weeks to say the least what with all my 30 credit modules (I did 3 of them!!) assessments in one after the other, however my community project has still been going on every Friday afternoon. Its actually been a lovely break from the dark and stuffy mac rooms to get out in the sunshine and play, laugh and have fun in the workshops!

After a tough following, workshop 3 went swimmingly too. We concentrated on 'body awareness' this week, getting everyone up and moving. Our objectives were:

  • To reintroduce old and new members (some had been away so had not met the new member from the following week)
  • Introduce the concept of 'body awareness' and how this affects our audience
  • Learn how using our bodies can project just as much as dialogue
  • Express our creativity through actions
  • Develop idea of 'improvisation'
  • Look to develop work through depth and movement

We started the session with a few exercises that we have played in Uni such as 'You are walking through...', where you pretend you are walking through something that makes you walk a certain way e.g. 'You are walking through sticky mud', and 'Group Shapes', where we had to get ourselves into a shape that could be seen from an aerial view, e.g. 'a diamond'. I have one person in my group that really struggles to walk around, let alone play these type of games, so I set him the task of Host, where he had to call out the commands. I started him off with a few examples then asked him to make up the rest. After we had finished the games, as well as asking the group how they felt about it, I asked the person who had been Host how it looked and whether we could have done anything better. He felt very confident to give feedback and thanked me for giving him this role.

After a few more similar games like this, we went onto to play 'The Lost Key'. the game involves a very simple plot to be acted out twice, once in a very naturalistic manner, what Stanislavski calls acting "in general" (artificial acting), and perform it again using mime in a very melodramatic manner. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun with this task, and there were lots of laughs to be heard throughout. When watching the performances, it was easy to see that some people took to mime very well and some saw it as only taking away dialogue. However, when asking afterwards which type of performance they preferred, one or two did say they enjoyed the mime more. So from now on, I will say that with whatever they are devising that they may using whichever genre they prefer.

One last game that went particularly well was called 'Picture Prompt', where I gave all of them the same picture of three people (see above). They then had to discuss what they believed was going on at the time the picture we taken and to re-enact it. One particular group were very good, they took on the characters as well as the situation, talking with mock italian accents and using plenty of gesture and projection. Everyone enjoyed watching it and they want to present this again in the last week!

After the workshop, I stayed and had a cup of tea with some of the group members. They were asking me all about University and how I got into drama etc, and one of the ladies said, "I would never had dreamed of coming to a workshop like this before, however Cancer has made me do things I never thought I'd do. I push myself to do everything now and really enjoy myself!" This just showed me how much these workshops have given to this community and how much good it does them. For them two hours a week, the workshops have given them the space to leave their worries at the door and hopefully for a short time forget where they are and just enjoy themselves.

Overall a very good week! The following week I wanted to move on from this, and I had planned to use most of the session time to focus upon coming up with solid ideas for a more in depth performance that we could work on and perform in the last week.

So, onto workshop 4, where the objectives were:
(which by the way, not sure if I have mentioned it before, I put these objectives up on a flip chart before every workshop and go through them before we start the workshop)

  • Introduce the importance of voice projection
  • Incorporate 'the voice' within our performing
  • Begin to build structured performances
  • Use stimuli to help encourage imagination
  • Have some fun in the sun!
We started this workshop by doing a few voice exercises, including warm ups (ahhhh, eeeee, oooooo, mmmmm, ssssss etc), gradually getting louder then softer etc. Then we developed this by talking in pairs whilst walking away from each other, projecting our voices more as we move away. I explained to the group about places like The Globe Theatre and how the actors had to be able to project their voices in order for the audience to hear them.

I then asked them to choose an advert from a page I had given them from the yellow pages and, with everyones else's eyes shut, read the advert to the group, making it as interesting as possible. From here, everyone got into groups and chose their favourite. I asked them to make a one minute advert that visualises the words and really sells the company or business. Everyone works really hard on this and came up with some really good ideas. The centre has a beautiful garden and as it was a lovely sunny day, the groups practiced and performed outside! One man was really convincing as a doctor and actually made us all want to visit a cosmetic surgery for one his his consultations (and even told some of the audience they could do with a little face lift!)!

During the second half of the workshop I asked everyone to get into two groups and, with the help of the stimuli I had placed onto the floor, to come up with an idea for a 5 minute piece. It took a while for everyone to think of something, so i went round to both groups and tried to help them by asking them questions about the items, e.g. "Where is that necklace from?", "Who are them people in that picture?" By using improvisation and hot-seating, it became easier for the groups to come up with ideas. After 15 minutes or so, the groups had come up with an idea. One group were using a pearl necklace as a object of 'desire', a piece of drama about two love affairs in paris. The other group were using a small pot off honey as a means for change with 3 character's lives. 

However good these ideas were, some members of the group were a little worried about missing out on developing the ideas as there is usually at least one workshop that they cannot attend. This then halted the idea of getting these performances ready to perform at the 'performance day' and made me think on my feet to how to move on from this week. We ended the workshop by showing what we had already come up with and gave me plenty to work on for the following week; what we were going to do for the remainder of the workshops and what we could do for our 'performance day'.

I looked back on what we had done over the past few weeks, and what people enjoyed the most. One thing I have learnt by leading these workshops is how much everyone has enjoyed playing and creating small pieces of theatre to show to the group, and generally having a good time, and this made me reevaluate my purpose and drive for this project. 

I think I had been too worried about what we were going to have to show for ourselves, and not reflecting on what we had already achieved. These people are having so much fun and laughs, surely that what drama is all about? Just because we don't have structured, professional performances, doesn't mean we haven't been successful in our journey. This group have made a phenomenal transformation already, you would think they have been performing in front of people for years! Their confidence and imagination has soared, and they come every week to enjoy themselves... For me, I couldn't wish for anything more. So, that is exactly what we shall do, carry on with plenty of games and exercises and just enjoy ourselves!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Workshop Two... Awesome!!!

Just thought i'd quickly post about last week's workshop (meant to write about it sooner but been soooo busy with media) before I took my 3rd one tomorrow... It went so well!!!!

The objectives I set were:
  • Remind ourselves of last week and everyones names
  • Develop concept of 'play'
  • Introduce Improvisation
  • Express our creativity through action
  • Develop imagination both consciously and subconsciously
  • Develop awareness and observation
  • Learn to reflect and evaluate work
I split the session into two, games and then improvisation exercises. I set more active games this week as we looked a lot at observation and awareness the week before so wanted to get everyone moving a bit more. I had two members of the group missing for different circumstances, however I did have an extra member join. As well as having the pleasure of a new member, she fit in really easily and was really eager to join in which was great.

We started with simple games like "what are you doing?" and "name check", then moved onto slightly more improvisational work such as "the puruvian ball game" (where you pretend you have ball in your hand, pass it on and then try to find your ball after a few exchanges, and a status game, (where you picked a card from a deck and whatever that card was, you were that status in relation to where that number is in line (ace being the lowest, king the highest). This went really well and the group started to look at how the body can speak so much volume in comparison to speech. One particular lady was really good at showing a low status, by backing away from the group, body language etc.

We then started looking at group exercises and making short pieces to present. I had 4 bowls full of lines of paper with text on. For the first exercise of the second part of the workshop, each group (decided by themselves) picked a line out of the bowl which said something like "Door salesman trying to sell to an elderly man", and they had to act out this situation. Instead of putting them on the spot i thought it would be best to give them time to think about it and practice. This went really well and everyone took to acting and improvising like a duck to water! One woman was laughing so hard she said her sides hurt and had to start the piece again several times! She said she hadn't laughed like that for years, and that laughter was the best medicine.. Definitely the best bit of feedback received so far.. Made me feel so good about it all!!!

Then we used the same 'tombola' method but each person in the group chose a character (e.g. musician), a prop (e.g. a wonky chair) and a location (e.g. a petrol garage) and with these had to also make a sketch. Some found it easier than others, as some couldn't get passed making it longer than a couple of lines long and some were stuck for ideas.

The last exercise we worked on was 'first or last line' which was yet again the same method but one person chose the first line of the piece and the other chose the last. Similarly, some took to the task straight away, where others couldn't really get their head around what was asked of them. We didn't have a lot of time by this exercise so i rushed into presentation and told them we would so this exercise again next week. However, they all tried really hard and put in so much effort!

Overall, everyone said they really enjoyed this week and was looking forward to doing similar techniques again. Certain things I will keep in mind for this week are:
  • Body awareness - a lot of work was rigid and not a lot of moving, I have planned for a lot more movement and non dialogue this week so hopefully this will help body and audience awareness too.
  • Time keeping - its really easy to get carried away with the exercise at hand and not realise that we had gone over. I will make sure that we move on after the first hour to make sure we have plenty of time for the things that people most enjoyed.
Overall it was a great week and has really made me look forward to this week. I am all prepared and hopefully it will go equally if not better than the last!!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Bloggin'ell... My Monthly Essay!

Great news! I have a drama group! Within two weeks we had eight people calling the centre saying they were interested in the workshops, and it was likely that we would get a few more. However, as the numbers mounted up, the more diverse the group became. When I got the final names of the group, the age range was phenomenal… 18 to 77!!! And if that wasn’t diverse enough, there were 3 men and 8 women! This certainly came as a surprise, for some reason I was only expecting women and for them to be only of a certain age. I have no idea why I thought that, I suppose it was just presumption. Presumption is the mother of all what now??!!! Nevertheless, this didn’t scare me. I was determined to make this an enjoyable and enriching experience for all to enjoy, regardless of age, gender or experience! I had already advertised an initial meeting to meet the group and see what they were all like etc, so now it was time to prepare!


I felt like I needed to speak to Mark and pass my ideas with him before I met with my group. I had read most of the research that I had already brought together, however I was struggling to find good games and exercises to do with the group. Also I wasn’t sure how to structure the six weeks... I was thinking of breaking up the two-hour sessions: one hour of games then onto one hour of monologue development. This way it allows the group to get relaxed every week before we move onto to slightly heavier concepts. When I went to see Mark he seemed pleased with what I had achieved and mentioned a few books and exercises that may of help. One book he stressed that would be a great help was ‘Games for Actors and Non Actors’ by Augusto Boal. We had read about this practitioner within drama before (I remember reading about Theatre of the Oppressed in 1st year). He explained there was a wide range of games within the book that are great for non-actors as well as professionals. He also gave me a few good exercises that may be good for monologue development later on in the workshops. When explaining about the worry I had about structure, he thought it would be worth while to actually split the six weeks into two, then have 3 weeks of fun and games, moving onto 3 weeks of monologue development. What I thought was best was to read up on the games and exercises available, meet the group and then work out what would be best for the class.


Moving on from this meeting, I decided to get my head stuck into the books that I had got and perhaps look on the internet to see whether people have posted things they had done for drama workshops before. Previous to finding out I would have males in the group, I bought two ‘Monologues for Female Actors’ books, to give me some stimuli to work upon and use as maybe base texts within the workshops. Reading these, there was a nice range of different extracts, and I hope to use these in the future of the workshops. After reading the majority of the Boal book, I gathered a range of games I could use for the workshops, and then chose a few I could use for the first one.


The initial meeting went really well, and everyone who came to participate was great. A few were quite anxious as to what we would be doing over the next few weeks, so I took this time to introduce myself and the other members of the group, asking them what drama experience they had, if any, and any questions they had. Most of them had never done drama before, and a few of them had touched upon a few small productions years ago. Obviously from where these workshops were being held, a few members had low mobility and found it difficult to move around the space, so this was something I had to take into consideration. I asked the group how they would prefer the workshops to be structured, and they all agrees that they would like to have games and exercises every week, so this is what I would do.

Jumping forward a few weeks, and I am in the seminar room preparing for my first workshop. After a LOT of planning and juggling around the structure of the workshop, I had decided to split the 1st week into 3 sections; introductory games, observation exercises and touch upon emotion memory. I wrote out on a flip chart the objectives of the workshop, followed by what we were going to do and the middle of a mind map to work from later on in the workshop.

 The objectives I set were split into two parts:

  • For everyone to know everyone else’s names
  • To feel relaxed within the space
  • Introduce and exercise the concept of “play”
  • Have fun!

 And then…

  • To introduce the idea of awareness, the self and it’s surroundings
  • Awakening the senses and dormant behaviour
  • Reconnecting with memory – introducing emotion memory
  • Perception of ourselves

 The workshop overall went very well, the games I used were simple, yet got everyone moving, talking and laughing! The observation exercises got everyone thinking and opening their eyes to things they may not have noticed before. The memory exercise seemed to go down very well. I had asked them all to take note of what they were doing the day before the 1st workshop at the initial meeting, then by asking lots of detailed questions, asked them what they did the day before. From there I got everyone to get into groups of 3 and in 2-3 minutes, tell the others in details what they had done. I walked around the space to see what they were saying and they were going into lots of detail! After everyone had told their stories, everyone got back into a circle and I asked individuals to tell another’s persons story. After a few people had done this, I then asked them to tell the story as if it was the most exciting day of their lives, then the most sad, the most scary etc. This gave us an opportunity to start playing with acting but still keeping it really casual. Before we knew it the two hours were up!

 The group was a lot more relaxed than I thought they would be, and were very eager to start the session. As I had planned so much for us to do, we weren’t stuck for games and exercises. Everyone got involved and (I hope) enjoyed themselves!!! I think the flip chart helped everyone understand why we were doing certain things, and I asked people to tell me what the importance of certain exercises were, and putting them on the mind maps. For the first week, I think it went pretty well!!

 I took note of things to take into consideration for next week, (which is tomorrow!):

  • Introduce some form of acting, I found most members of the group were ready to look at this type of thing
  • I have an 18 year old lad in the group and I feel he may get a little bored with some of the activities I am setting. There are a few people who find it difficult to move around the in space, however I am going to try and expand the exercises with more depth, and this may be through more acting.
  • I am getting a little worried I am not going to have enough exciting and appropiate games and exercises for the whole 6 weeks, but as I said before, this may be made easier by doing more in depth acting exercises.
  • One major concern that I have to be really careful of is that the sessions don’t turn into Drama Therapy. Its really easy for the conversations to turn to people’s illnesses and what they are currently going through, and I am trying to avoid the group becoming a support group. There are ways the group can help people interacting, socialising and having fun, however as I am not a professional therapist, this is potentially dangerous territory. Nevertheless, as soon as the group may start to talk to about these things, I am diverting the attention to the exercise at hand!

So, for tomorrow, the idea is to use what we did last time and go into more depth, as well as introducing other new ideas too. They enjoyed the memory exercises so I am going to do more on emotion memory and observation. Plenty more games will be played, and I want to expand their playfulness a little more!! So lots of make pretend! Then I will focus on monologues to give them a structure of what a monologue could be like, then perhaps set a task for the following week. We shall see how it goes!! Going to do a little more reading this afternoon and get myself all prepared for tomorrow afternoon!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Hello Mr. Blog, my name is Hannah... Remember me?

Okay okay, so I know I gave it the Charlie Big Spuds in my last blog about 1000 years ago about how I was going to keep up and start regularly writing on here, and I haven't. And to be honest, I don't completely know why. One reason would be the same as before, once you don't write it for one week, you put it off for ages. But I think another reason is I've been making my project more solid and my blog more substantial before I told everyone about what I have done. I know this can be as airy fairy as you want to be, but I think I would rather see it as a write up of what I have been doing rather than a sketchbook of ideas.

So, moving on, this is what I have been up to.

I have decided to work within The Mulberry Centre, a cancer support centre at West Mid Hospital, that offers complimentary support and therapies to people affected by cancer. I originally came across the centre when looking for voluntary work over a year ago, and started doing 'meeting and greeting' there once a week. From there, I then started doing Fundraising (I didn't feel I was doing a lot, and felt I could do a lot more to help out) and still do this now. I had said in a previous blog entry that I needed to talk to the trustees first to see if it would be a possibility to work with them in my community theatre piece. Since then I spoken to a bunch of staff and volunteers, including Rodney, the chair Trustee; Joan, the fundraising facilitator; and Sally, one of the senior Counsellors.

Rodney was one of the first people I approached, being one of the most influential members of staff. He has seen Cancer Tales and has been to a medical conference at St. Mary's in which this was shown too. He loved the idea of doing something with this play within the centre, and perhaps saw the play being performed. At first, I was thinking that we could make our own version of Cancer Tales, using stories from the centre. This was an idea short lived, it took Nell Dunn years to compile her work and time was simply not on my side. Furthermore, the possibility of getting stories from people at the centre was at a slim chance anyway. From here, I went to see Trevor Walker about the using this play and performing it either at the centre or somewhere wide scale. But he instantly told me that Nell wouldn't want amateur actors performing the play, and even if we found professionals to perform it, the cost of the rights wouldn't be justified for my project. However, he did mention that it would probably be okay just to use the text just as a stimulus for any work that we did do.

Going back to the storyboard, keeping what Trevor said in mind, I decided to focus on using Cancer Tales as more of a stimuli rather than a performance. I wasn't really keen on doing wide-scale performance anyway, from what I have seen and been apart of at the Centre, the small and relaxed events are always a success. I saw my project as a simple idea with a big impact, rather than trying to wow people as a one-man band. This then brought me to the idea of holding workshops instead. People are much more likely to get involved with something that doesn't expect too much off them, and I think asking people to perform in a big show would deter people from getting involved.

I arranged a meeting with Sally to discuss working in the centre and get some advice for the work that I was thinking of doing and how to communicate better with this community. I started by telling her what my plans were and what I was thinking of holding; a 6-week workshop looking at Cancer Tales, eventually leading up to an evening which draws everything to a close with a chance for people to show some of the work we had made. She thought this was a good idea, but as we were talking about making rules and keeping a 'safe' environment, it was becoming apparent that perhaps using Cancer Tales within the workshops was not such a good idea. 
I was asking a lot of questions about handling a situation if someone got upset or something hit home, and it seemed by using this play, it would be very difficult to avoid. I then asked if perhaps she would like to get involved, both as a member of the group and a means of support if anything were to happen. She was happy to do so but then realised it would create complications if people wanted to be counseled by her at the Centre. 

It then became clear what I had to do. Change the play. However good it would have been to use this play and have people handle it, the reality was it would be very hard for people who are very possibly in one of the situations within the play to study or indeed perform it. I love the idea of using Stanislavski's 'Emotion Memory', and to ask people to do this would have been wrong.

We then moved on to talk about who I would invite to join in these workshops. I was really for the idea of mixing volunteers, staff and users, however Sally explained the difficulty of post-workshop relationships that might occur. So, we eventually decided that only volunteers who didn't have direct contact with the users of the Centre would be asked to participate.

Other things that Sally advised me were keeping confidentiality within the workshops, and suggesting that members of the group 'always allow your inner wisdom to override anything I ask from you'. This way, people may feel more free to express themselves without a full force of dictation. However, one difficulty with keeping this confidentiality is writing these blogs. Obviously I would like to write everything what happens in the workshops, including people's work and feedback, but this isn't possible if I'm going to maintain that confidentiality. This is something I will have to talk to Mark about!

Since these meetings, I have been busy both researching and marketing my workshops. Caroline, the Macmillan Information Officer, lent me several books from the Centre's extensive library including 'Talking to Cancer Patients and their Relatives' and 'Communicating in Cancer Care', along with a few Macmillan Support Handbooks, 'How to talk to someone with Cancer' and 'The Cancer Guide'. I don't believe it is crucial to do heaps of research of this kind but it was good to get an idea into what they are going through and how my workshops could benefit them. One chapter of one of the guides was 'How to be a good listener'. This was mainly about how to encourage someone to talk to you about their illness, which isn't exactly what I would want, but there were some good points that could be used in general, especially within a drama workshop. These included 'Getting the setting right', which explained the importance of being comfortable and relaxed, signaling that you are there to spend some time with them and are eager to hear what they are about to say, 'Encourage the person to talk', 'Use silence and non-verbal communication', 'Don't change the subject' and 'Don't give advice too early'. If these points can encourage someone to talk about something as difficult as cancer, they must be helpful to keep in mind when listening within a theatrical space.

Along with these books, I have also invested in 'The Applied Theatre Reader', to help me in the drama and planning side of the project. I have some experience with teaching children within Theatre for Young People and Theatre in Education, however I have little experience with working with adults. The only thing close I have done is held a Makeover stand at a Pamper Evening at The Mulberry a few months ago, showing women how to apply makeup and giving little personal tips I had that might help them. I am hoping the reader has things like this within it, and if not I'm sure there is something in the library that can give me a hand.

Meanwhile, I have successfully created a poster that has been put up in the centre in various places, as well as a handy A5 sized one for people to take home. As well as this, I have sent out nearly 200 letters (yes, 200! it was going to be 700!!) to the users of the centre explaining what I am doing and asking if they would like to get involved. You can see the poster here! I am holding an initial meeting next friday to explain a little about the workshops and what people can expect out of the following 6 weeks. I will then make sure the time slot I have booked for the workshops is okay with everyone (1-3 every Tuesday) and get people signed up. I have also emailed all the non-direct volunteers to see if they would also like to get involved and attached the handout to them too.

So, within the next few weeks, I have a lot of work to do! I want to keep the workshops very basic, so anyone who has never done drama before can get involved, and the more confident everyone gets, the more I would like to encourage learning monologues to perform at the evening toward the end of the project. The main areas I would like to concentrate on would be Dialogue, Spatial and Audience Awareness, and so I think I will be looking for text that are solely or heavily monologues.. Any suggestions would be awesome!

Wow, I have gone on for some time!! Thats what I've been up to anyway, lots achieved but lots more to do.. My biggest hope is that people are interested. The staff seem to think it will be popular so I've just got to keep my fingers crossed and plan some damn good workshops!

Thanks for reading this if you took the time! Any thoughts and feelings on what I'm doing or suggestions of what i can do would be much appreciated, its great working on your own but any advice would be awesome!