As autumn starts to draw in and a new school term has begun, we thought it was time for reflection on our year so far. You may have seen on our social media that we have been posting about the work we do outside of our main productions and so we thought why not write a blog about it too.
This year has been jam-packed and a time of growth for us as a company. Over the past few years, the outreach arm of our company (She Engages) has become a crucial part of our work and this year it has kept us busy with a mixture of collaborative and bespoke-commissioned programmes.
We have met some inspirational participants and have had the privilege to work with some brilliant creative facilitators from Hull and the East Riding. We have learnt so much from participants and we feel very grateful for every experience we have engaged in.
Our outreach work is aimed at a variety of age groups, demographics and each of our programmes are tailored to the needs of those involved. Previously we have covered a range of themes from consent workshops with vulnerable teens, working alongside Together Women to develop empowering workshops for women to Man Up workshops where we worked with a group of young men to deconstruct toxic masculinity. We also trialled for the first time at Christmas 2021 our mini critics programme, designed to get young people thinking critically about theatre and the wider world. The programme gave them a safe space to gain confidence to ask questions.
Our work is always practical, drama-based & participatory. Most recently we have been focused on facilitating participants to use the arts to explore self-awareness, social skills, wellbeing & confidence.
Looking to the future as a company, alongside our role of Cultural Delivery Partners at the East Riding Theatre, we want to focus on deepening our roots in the Hull and East Riding by engaging local communities with our outreach programmes. Our aim with She Engages is to release both the voices and stories of local individuals by building trust, challenging social expectations, and commending courage.
For this blog we wanted to focus on a few of the main outreach programmes we have worked on this year to give you a more detailed picture of what we have been up to.
We started the year with voiCentre, a programme created in partnership with N.I.C.E (National Initiative of Creative Education). We developed a longer-term outreach programme which culminated with participants performing in a ‘sharing’ in June. voiCentre is focused on providing opportunities for young people from the global majority, including refugees to participate in performing arts. By involving participants in drama workshops, led by industry professionals we supported them to express feelings, overcome barriers of participation in the arts, build confidence to connect with others and develop new skills. Our aim was to improve the experience of young people from global majority communities, who are new arrivals to the area. We loved every minute of this programme and feel lucky to have partnered with the brilliant team at N.I.C.E. Throughout the programme we engaged amazing facilitators to work with the participants on one off workshops; such as Graffiti art with Emma Garness, Fight Choreography with Ravenwolf Cinematic Combat, Set & Costume design with Emily Clay and Music with Beat Bus team to name a few. The sharing took place in June and despite a few challenges, it was a huge success. The participants wowed the audience with music, singing, videos, poetry reading, performance scenes and rapping. We are so proud of what they achieved and can’t wait to see them flourish further.
Another part of our Outreach this year has been a commissioned programme, STEP UP STAND OUT, by HETA (Humberside Engineering Training Association) . We have worked closely with the team at HETA to create a programme of workshops for their participants focused on interviewing, transitioning to industry and induction to a new year at HETA. Some may question whether the world of industry and the arts can work together but we firmly believe they do! Our programme is based on encouraging learners to begin building relationships through teamwork & communication, promoting a positive behavioural environment, improving interpersonal relationship skills, beginning the process of personal growth & self-awareness, developing creative thinking, initiative & aptitude and finally integrating physical, emotional & mental well-being into it all. We have been so impressed with both cohorts of apprentices we have worked with and have really relished seeing them develop by the end of the programme and beyond.
Finally, earlier this year we delivered our fifth Finding Your Voice course in partnership with East Riding of Yorkshire Council Workforce Development Team at East Riding Theatre. This is one of our continuing programmes and certainly a favourite of ours. Finding Your Voice is designed for adults aged 18+ who are currently not in employment or education. The course is designed to be over a short intense period, usually a week and uses drama to develop confidence, communication, and to discover creative expression. ‘It is truly astonishing to watch a group of strangers arrive on day 1 and by day 5 they have created a company and a brand-new piece of theatre. We have met so many brilliant people who have gone on to work, college, and volunteering’- Annie Kirkman. Finding Your Voice uses theatre to build participants’ confidence as they journey into the next chapter of their lives.
Here is a quote from one of our previous cohort participants that we think sums up why we are so proud of the programme.
“The whole experience has been very emotional for me, but I finally feel like I have found me!"
- Julie Redpath, She Productions ‘Finding Your Voice’ workshop participant 2019
You can also check out our video about the Finding Your Voice Programme here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXeyqu1-t0s
So that’s what we have been up to this year, I hope this has been an interesting insight!
We can’t wait to continue to keep growing She Engages - Watch this space for future announcements and opportunities to get involved.
We are always looking to expand our network of facilitators to help us deliver our work so if you are interested in working with us send an email with a little bit about yourself and your experience of facilitating to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to hear from you.
If you are interested in commissioning or partnering with She Productions for a bespoke workshop programme or one off workshop, then email us at email@example.com to arrange an initial consultation.
Photography by Martin Jasinski & Sara Kruger.