Out of the Dark was a Drama/Theatre based Mental Health Project for people over 50 living in West Fife.
Working with professional theatre practitioners, the project involved its participants, including health professionals, in the process of producing exciting and valid
new pieces of theatre, through performance, drama workshops and new writing. Although the project was not drama therapy, the work had a great therapeutic effect.
The focus was on sharing imagination, creativity and, most of all, having fun.
The company consisted of:
1. The Theatre Company who toured seven specially commissioned plays to theatres and community venues in Fife, the Tramway in Glasgow and St Brides in Edinburgh. The group met weekly at Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline.
In 2007, the company’s nineth show ‘What if…’ was performed at the SAC Cultural Summit and European Conference on Stigma, this piece was subsequently made into a radio programme, ‘Making a Drama out of a Crisis’ by Edi Stark for Radio Scotland.
2. Forthview Drama Group who are based at Forthview Day Hospital in Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline. The project started in 2000, when the Senior Charge Nurse contacted Fife Council’s Community Services to ask for help in developing the drama work that they had been doing with their patients. Since then, all the nursing staff have been involved in both formal and informal drama training through the project and can now lead drama workshops. Some of the nurses have gone on to further develop their skills, and are adapting their drama experience when working with their patients. This has proved to be extremely beneficial especially with people who are in the early stages of dementia.
The Forthview Group’s work is based around drama workshops, sharing imagination and establishing drama work with patients and staff.
3. The Writers’ Group also met on a weekly basis and has recently toured examples of their work, performed by group members themselves alongside professional actors. The Writers’ Group developed and tour three new scripted pieces in Spring 2006, which included the writers’ performing their work alongside professional actors.
Out of the Dark has toured in many different venues from Community Halls and Day Centres, to professional theatres in Fife, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The artistic element of the work is equally as important as the inclusive nature of the Project. It is about developing a ‘creative voice’ for people aged 50+ who have suffered, and still suffering from, mental health problems. Through its members, the work is entertaining and uplifting for any audience. The Project always works with experienced professional artists who are committed to working with the members.
The work in creating an exposure to and expectation of accessibility to Theatre and Mental Health work has been extensive over the past five years. This ranged from one-off workshops with mental health service users and mental health professionals to presentations to NHS Managers to formal training for Nursing and Occupational Therapy staff as well as performance – all of the above being able to witness first-hand, the positive benefits of the Project through performance. Through the training element, nursing staff in Forthview Day Hospital now include drama sessions as part of their day- to-day work and have commented on how their involvement in Drama has improved the morale of both the staff and the patients.
This project was funded by the Scottish Arts Council’s National Lottery Fund, NHS Fife and Fife Council Community Services.