The archive of Europe and UK's most-established open-air Shakespeare touring theatre
WORK IN SPECIAL NEEDS
On behalf of the company Wendy Macphee used to teach, and the company may again in
future years, in a wide variety of Special Needs schools (including provision for
students with behavioural difficulties) in North and East London, using drama and
music as a learning medium.
Josie, at Trinity Special Needs School, Dagenham
takes part in a "Three Bears" music / drama.
Sarah, at Trinity Special Needs School, Dagenham, in a music / drama workshop.
Dilston College runs a three-year, post-school residential course for students with
learning disabilities. Within the boundaries of the College lie the ruins of an eighteenth-century
castle. The natural amphitheatre in front of the castle makes an ideal setting for
performance. Last year (1997), Theatre Set Up, a company with an international reputation
for outdoor performance of Shakespeare, used it as a venue during their annual tour.
Their time at Dilston became an opportunity to explore the potential of greater involvement
with the college for their projected visit in 1998. Ideas considered included running
a series of workshops parallel to the formal performances. In mind was the artistic,
educational and social potential of creatively bringing together actors, students
with learning disabilities and local A Level drama students. Artistically there was
the desire to make Shakespeare accessible to an unusual public, and in this case
explore the underlying issues that gave rise to the play 'Antony and Cleopatra'.
It was also to make the professional acting skills and expertise of the company accessible
in an educational context. Socially the desire was to bring together and create organic
links between the worlds of mainstream and disability in a way that was mutually
enriching. The possibility of involving Dorothy Heathcote in this process added a
further dimension of possible richness.
For those interested in drama-in-education Dorothy needs no introduction. As author
and charismatic teacher, she is still considered a leading thinker and unique practitioner
in this field. Although of good age and well retired, she has been known to put on
the mantle of teacher and lead 'one-off' workshops. Happily she decided that the
proposed workshop was such an occasion. The workshops now had a further aim: an experiential
exploration of Dorothy's pioneering concept of workshopping-in-role.