A Note from Facilitator Jeanette Rourke

Clapham…Southwark…Hackney: my own journey

Well I ‘flew’ three times – on each of the three FLIGHT projects, and what a privilege it was! Often challenging and intense, the three groups were equally brave and fearless when exploring lived experience or creating entirely fictional characters and events.

Wandsworth saw me co-facilitate with Jim Pope, and a very diverse group, some with lots of experience of this kind of work, and some with none at all.  Having established we were all rowing in the same boat together, we quickly developed a bond of support and trust within the group. Jim and Jeanette both had birthdays within the two weeks, and cake and candles were in plentiful supply. The two weeks culminated in a packed house to see the group share the work they had created.

Wandsworth highlight: speaking to Kelly’s Mum and sister after the Wandsworth performance, who after many difficult shared experiences got to see K shine! Lovely to chat with them about how far Kelly had come from a troubled place.

Southwark saw me co -facilitate with Che Walker and Victoria Kelly, who did one week each – a new group and a new dynamic. Che dived straight into the writing “well I could tickle your tummies but why would we want do that.” I certainly took on board the possibility of a new approach, starting writing so soon in the process: within the first hour in fact!  Amazing work created, much directly from lived experience and some incredible sharing as the days progressed. Victoria Kelly was great with games and warm-up and provided just the right mix in contrast to the intensity of the writing. Once more, an eager audience filled the space for our performance, but not before we had eaten lots of Pizza and caught forty winks asleep, under and on tables, prior to our performance.  Oh the glamour of it all!

Southwark highlight (for me): the flowers and card from the group at the end! Completely unnecessary, but a card filled with messages of how much they had taken from the process and a genuine gratitude for being able to take part – ‘a privilege’.

Our final flight was in Hackney. Another bold and brave group, again with some participants who had never done anything like this before. I was joined as co-facilitator this time by Michael Amaning . We played games, improvised, wrote, laughed and cried through the ten intensive days, which also did ‘fly’ by. Two more birthdays for the group to celebrate and yet more cake! A very supportive audience saw the end of the project (for now) and were clearly moved by some of the lived experiences shared. Great comedy scenes lightened the evening, and with chats and photos at the end of the performance we polished off the remainder of the pizza supper for Hackney!

Hackney highlights: to see how far people have travelled through the process – some having done more than one workshop, and grew and grew with each experience.

Barrington taking part, having never done anything like this before…a huge step for him…Tee saying that during this process she realised that she ‘got up’, referring to her working her way out from a dark place.

And Marcus standing up (completely unprompted) at the end and saying

‘I just want to say thank you for the opportunity, I didn’t know what to do with myself and now I think I’ve found something I can do and am good at. Thank you.’

I know Marcus well, from before these workshops and all his support staff say just how much he has changed in confidence and outlook.

This building of confidence, developing new skills, and exploring often perceived, negative lived experience, in a more positive light, was evidently a general theme and one of the key aims and objectives of this extraordinary experience.