Using drama to raise awareness

bemix's drama groups, Risky Business, have been using performance to explore and raise awareness about people with learning difficulties in the criminal justice system.  The groups, which meet weekly in Canterbury and Sittingbourne, were inspired by hearing stories of people's experiences of crime and the legal system.


How the project started

Members of the Canterbury group have been developing a performance and workshop after being inspired by the true life story of a man with autism who was a victim of several hate crimes. The man was sadly misunderstood and the legal system failed to support him.  The man and his father campaigned for justice which started an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation.  The investigation found that the police had made serious errors which failed to provide the young man with support from an appropriate adult, and did not recognise that he had been the victim of hate crime.

Working together

If you have seen our short film about bemix, you will have seen Risky Business Project Lead, Louise, talking about how drama helps everyone to be involved and work as a team. This recent project is an excellent example of how that teamwork happens. For some people, remembering scripted lines can be a challenge. The group uses different creative techniques to ensure that everyone can express themselves and be part of the work.

The group works together to come up with the material and then spend time at the computer, writing the script. Canterbury group member, Gary, led the group in writing a rap to express the young man's feelings of fear and frustration.  Working together to write the lyrics meant that it didn't take long for Daniel to learn them. Sharni and Sam joined in with melodic singing in the bridges.

Sam had the idea of creating a physical theatre dance movement sequence to symbolise some of the themes in the piece. Her ideas included performing the difference between inclusion and equality, as opposed to hate and segregation. 

“I enjoy using all of the skills I have, song writing, dancing and script writing." - Sam

Future plans

The group have started to plan how the performance could be used to raise awareness in schools and the local community.  They have been developing an interactive Theatre in Education style workshop that aims to explore the performance themes. The group plans to take the workshop on a tour around venues in Kent.


How the project started

Members of the Sittingbourne Risky Business group have been working alongside the Creative Media group, another of bemix's Sittingbourne based projects.  After watching a report called No one Knows, which presents the findings of a major survey of prisoners with learning difficulties / disabilities, the groups decide to collaborate on a project to raise awareness about the issues raised. The report founds that the needs of people who have learning difficulties or autism are not recognised, and that the criminal justice system frequently fails to support people effectively.  

Working together

The group members have worked together to create characters, write the sketch and rehearse.  The sketch explores the experiences of some of the adults in the report. With Risky Business acting in the sketch, the media group plan to film it.  They will then use a programme called Rotascope to turn the footage into an animation.

As well as learning skills in learning lines and using the animation software, people have learnt about the importance of teamwork and supporting one another. An important antidote to the lack of support people have received in the criminal justice system. 

“I am now able to listen to everyone, one at a time" - Jamie

"I have increased in confidence and made new friends" - Nathan

Future plans

Next week, the group will be meeting the local Police Community Safety Officer (PSCO) to ask some important questions that have been raised since working on the project. One of the questions the group will be discussing is "how can we prevent hate crime?".  Hate crime is an issue which all too often affects the people in bemix. It's an issue that many of our projects aims to tackle.

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