I’m Rebecca Boden, an independent Drama Facilitator based where YOU need me to be! Unlock Drama aims to give hard-to-reach participants access to drama by offering affordable, innovative and versatile workshops. Unlock Drama promotes positive change through the arts and creates realistic results.
Unlock Drama has evolved from twelve years of drama experience and seven years of utilising theatre techniques within a variety of settings with a range of participants. To enhance and underpin my practice I studied a Masters in Applied Theatre specialising in the Criminal Justice System at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Unlock Drama aims not just to scratch the surface of issue-based subjects but endeavours to find the root cause of participants’ issues. Unlock Drama engages Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approaches through drama. By targeting the origin of issues, participants will be encouraged to re-evaluate their behaviour, choices and consequences of actions to enable self-awareness and positive outcomes.
Unlock Drama delivers drama projects to unlock life skills that can be transferable in day-to-day life and can be applied in social situations, training or employment. Engaging with drama opens many doors for participants, reliant as it is on developing core interpersonal skills such as communication, leadership, team-building. It also raises participants’ confidence and self-esteem which are all key attributes in life. Unlock Drama’s creative impact hopes that participants will become valued individuals in any given community.
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Do you want to learn the essential skills in Drama Facilitation with vulnerable groups?
Look no further! Unlock Drama offer one-to-one and group training sessions in the techniques of Drama Facilitation.
Using practical demonstrations and tutorials Unlock Drama supports any individual wanting to work in the field of Applied Theatre as a Drama Facilitator.
This training programme will strengthen your skills, improve your facilitation techniques and build confidence.
Do you want to run accredited courses for young people? Look no further! Unlock Drama can deliver Bronze, Silver and Gold Arts Award at your institution now.
The Gold Arts Award is the highest award at level 3. This award equates to half an AS level and has 35 UCAS points attached to it.
The Arts Awards are extremely versatile and can be adapted to any interests the young people have in the arts. It helps young people to develop as artists and arts leaders. The Arts Award can be delivered to participants aged 7 – 25.
The Bronze level equates to GCSE levels D–G and the Silver level A*-C.
If you want to access more information please visit the Arts Award website:
Unlock drama attended the prison earlier this year to work with a group of identified men who volunteered to give drama a go, having no previous experience.
Around twelve men were identified, and naturally after the first day, some did not remain for the duration as they were unwilling to push their personal boundaries and/or felt embarrassed.
The remainder of the group did push their own boundaries and began to gel as a group, developing an understanding of each other and working well together as a team as the week went on. The men supported each other throughout, as is prison life in general, some encountered difficulties along the way but were supported by their peers, staff and facilitators. The men came together as a group and stated they had found a new circle of friends, their understanding of how to express their diverse and eclectic experiences started to develop and their acting skills improved as the week progressed. They developed an understanding of how to express their feelings and stated that this was the best recovery treatment they had ever received as it kept them engaged, occupied and part of a bigger team.
At the conclusion of the week the remaining men performed their chosen topics to staff from the prison and other prisoners, including those who did not remain for the whole week. The men who had originally been invited and did not remain expressed their regret at not pushing their boundaries and taking part. The staff were emotional at what they had witnessed and interested to ask questions of the men and how the week had been for them. The men involved were excited and appeared really rewarded by their achievements, they spoke openly about their initial trepidation and feeling of achievement at the conclusion. For me as a Recovery Coordinator, I felt rewarded to have supported the men to attend through the week, and saw a real difference in the men that took part, it was a pleasure to be involved.
Tanya Woodland, Recovery Practitioner & PS Lead, City Health Care Partnership CIC.
Unlock Drama delivered a 4.5 intensive Smoking Cessation project with 18-21 year olds from our supported living unit. A number of the participants had complex needs such as anxiety and mental health issues.
The Unlock Drama teams programme was well suited to the participants and had beneficial outcomes such as; raised confidence and self-esteem.
The course culminated in a two final performances which were shown to the Senior Management Team. The plays highlighted all issues associated with a smoke free prison and how it can be seen as an opportunity and have positive outcomes. The participants delivered believable and professional performances and all staff were engaged and impressed with their achievements.
I felt the course was worthwhile and it was a pleasure to have Unlock Drama in.
Dan Hallam, Custodial manager Res 5, Smoke Free Project Deputy @ HMP/YOI Brinsford.
This 4.5 day intensive course was a superb bolt-on project that perfectly complements our smoke free programme. It was great to see prisoners interact, develop and shine during the week. I have seen here a model that can enhance the relationship between prison authorities and prisoners. Highly recommended.Officer Darren Ewart LC125, HMP Leicester, July 2017.
I have sat through a number of sessions during this week and I must say I am very impressed. Rebecca Frances Bodenand Vicki Stanley have brought together 6 inmates who have never before associated with each other before and turned them into a group of guys with a thirst to achieve.
It has been a pleasure to be apart of the team!!
I would highly recommend the girls as they really do have a talent of bringing out the best in people.Alex M., Prison Officer, HMP Leicester, July 2017.
Unlock Drama delivered a two month Performing Arts residency at our prison HMYOI Werrington. The focus of the drama workshops were centred on Violence Reduction. The Unlock Drama team worked with our hardest to reach young people on Outreach. Young people on the Outreach programme are excluded from education due to high risk behaviours such as: fighting, vandalism, abusive language, threats to staff and other young people.
The Unlock Drama team cared greatly about our young people and this was evident in every session delivered. Each workshop was tailor-made so that every young person could reach their full potential. The workshops enabled: increased confidence/self-esteem, positive well-being, improved interpersonal skills, consequential thinking techniques, improved decision making skills and effective approaches of how to deal with situations triggering violence.
Young people who took part in Unlock Drama’s projects stated the following:
• “I have learnt what my triggers are that lead to violence and how to combat them effectively”
• “Drama is beneficial for young people because it can build confidence”
• “It is important to raise awareness about violence because it can reduce violence”
• “I’ve seen the other guys do more than they’d do anywhere else – they would not be like that on the wings or anywhere”
One young person told a member of staff that he now understands the importance of choosing who influences his decision making carefully, especially with regard to who speaks positively and negatively into his life. He identified that violence leaves mental scarring that cannot be escaped easily and suggested that processing trauma caused by being involved in violent situations might help reduce instances of violent behaviour caused by fear.
Unlock Drama’s hands-on approach to learning enabled the challenging young people who sometimes cannot even see one session through in education to maintain engagement and focus, contributing to discussions and practical roleplays alike. By working with, rather than against, the specific needs of participants (such as short attention spans and a need to let off physical steam), the Unlock Drama team enabled the young people to complete a full week’s project without a need for exclusion or sanctions.
It has been an absolute pleasure to host Unlock Drama. I would highly recommend their services across the prison estate. We hope to use their services again.John Key, Community Engagement Manager: Reducing Reoffending, HMPYOI Werrington.
We spent a lot of time during this course with the drama group and this was a joint project with the chaplaincy department who also assisted with supervising. The prisoners themselves were an excellent group who bonded over the week and were encouraged by the facilitators to be supportive of each other.
The material covered was very relevant and the play they wrote and performed was excellent and very real.
Some comments from the group members from themselves include:
• “I’ve gained a lot more confidence with myself”
• “I was worried about doing the play but as the week went on I was looking forward to doing it and glad the staff liked it”
• “I can say all the sessions I enjoyed very well and I would do it again”
• “Personally I gained a lot of confidence and self-belief, also I gained life skills and will find it easier in group sessions in the future”
• “I felt incredibly proud not only for myself but my peers as well, it was a good team effort”
When performing the play to a small audience, in attendance were the deputy governor of HMP Hindley and heads of department as well as some staff from the safer custody department. This was very well received, in particular by the deputy governor who encouraged a second performance to which the number 1 governor of HMP Hindley attended and the inspectors. The head of healthcare stated the play “really affected me” due to the issues portrayed.
The deputy governor has expressed his interest in this being performed to further groups of uniform staff to watch and also to film this to show to new staff at induction into the establishment. This shows how well received the project was.
The facilitators were excellent and engaged very well with what, at times, can be a difficult group of group members. They were well liked and respected by all.
We will definitely be looking into another drama group for the future. Thank you very much.
Building Futures Substance Misuse Team, HMP Hindley.
Unlock Drama, led by Rebecca Boden, has delivered three NPS Awareness courses at HMP The Mount between December 2016 and February 2017. The feedback from those prisoners attending has been the most positive that I have heard from any course delivered here by an external provider. The theatre techniques that Rebecca uses to get the group engaging with the facilitators and each other, works with all individuals. Any prisoners who are reluctant at the start of the course are soon drawn in and once started, they all complete the week. Prisoners have expressed surprise at themselves, with their improved confidence and team spirit.
The prisoners increased awareness and knowledge of the negative effects of NPS, and the ripples from its misuse, has given them the skills to challenge and divert their peers away from NPS use. Each cohort has been made up of prisoners from different wings, mixed ages, social & cultural backgrounds, NPS users and non-smokers. Every group has reported that they have created unexpected friendships and will continue to support each other in the future.
I have been impressed with the respect, commitment, empathy and enthusiasm that the prisoners have shown throughout their week courses. The week long course culminates in a performance by the prisoners which has been seen by staff from different areas of the prison, healthcare, security, safer custody, RAPt and many more. Staff have been able to see the worth of the course for themselves especially when prisoners that they are working with change their attitude and focus to that of something far more positive. Most of the prisoners are reluctant and nervous when they discover that they are doing a play, but they have all ended up thoroughly enjoying it and want to do it again.
Rebecca should feel very proud of the positive impact that herself, her team and her programme are having on the lives of prisoners who are trying to turn their lives around. The NPS awareness project definitely supports and encourages the rehabilitative culture that we are trying to generate here at HMP The Mount.
Please pass on my thanks to all involved.Joanne Hudson, Business and Community Engagement Manager, HMP The Mount.
Today I sat in the play about NPS delivered by the drama group. I didn’t know what to expect, the play started and at first I feared that it was a bunch of prisoners making fun of the of the prison system and the staff, how wrong I was.
It was nice to see a bunch of prisoners who in normal prison life would probably not give the time of day to each other getting along. The message soon became apparent that the play centres around the effects that NPS has and the consequences that occur about the use of it. What was more uplifting was that the group really appeared to take on board the message that they can change their lives and that prisoners are taking responsibility for their own rehabilitation. I really got that they enjoyed the week they had. It was a very interesting theme that , in my mind would be hugely beneficial to a wider group which should include uniform staff, governors and more importantly other prisoners.
I can see that this type of drama workshop has a benefit in addressing re-offending and has a positive feel and made me realise that prisoners know what we are up against at times.
Please pass on my thanks to all involved.Lee Basham, Safer Custody Officer, HMP The Mount.
Had the pleasure of working alongside Unlock Drama when they came to HMP Holme House to deliver their NPS Awareness Project.
The programme is a fun and hands on way for the men to learn about NPS and raise awareness within the establishment about a subject that is current and relevant to each individual as they are all in some way effected by NPS.
The level of energy brought by the unlock Drama team was outstanding. All of the men who attended the project were very much involved and were flourishing in self-confidence by the end of the week.
During evaluations all of the men stated that they had really enjoyed the project and they each felt they were taking something away from it whether it be confidence, more awareness or increased motivation and they felt that it would be beneficial for other prisoners to have the opportunity to do the project.
A big thank you on behalf of DART – HMP Holme House.DART, HMP Holme House.
Unlock Drama is an arts organisation with a difference, it tailors programmes to wherever they need to be, ensuring content is appropriate and meets the needs of all participants. Unlock Drama uses drama as a tool for empowerment and invites individuals to participate in a unique process.
When I get the opportunity to freelance for Unlock Drama I feel completely comfortable. Becky Boden was at the beginning of my prison theatre journey and helped shape the prison drama facilitator I am now. The detail and time she spent with me as a facilitator is the same amount of effort she puts into everything she delivers, ensuring everyone in the space is safe and trusts the process.
In many of the projects that Unlock Drama delivers, time is spent devising a performance piece which encapsulates the whole process. This allows groups to showcase work and for multiple agencies to witness participants’ capabilities and developing knowledge.
Arts has been highlighted recently as a necessity within prison interventions delivered. Becky’s projects are a necessity which need to be utilised.
Whenever I have the time, I would deliver Unlock Drama projects at the drop of a hat. It’s a special process which always stays with me.Rachel, Unlock Drama Facilitator / Past Placement Student.
Unlock Drama delivered a ‘Violence Reduction’ project at HMP Chelmsford in November 2015. This project was funded by the Police and Crime Commissioners for Essex.
Unlock Drama worked with Essex based prisoners exploring the topic of violence through drama. Using specialized workshops within the Criminal Justice System the facilitators were able to engage the prisoners, enabling transformational outcomes.
Teaching and utilizing a variety of drama techniques allowed the prisoners to create a play that showed the negative ripple effects of violence; not only within the Criminal Justice System but also within the wider community.
The negative play titled ‘The Ripple Effects of Violence’ showed how violence affects the individual perpetrator, friends, family, prison staff and society. It was a well-rounded performance portraying all angles of violence and the detrimental outcomes.
Consequential thinking was a noticeable outcome identified by the prisoners. Unlock Drama used a technique called Forum Theatre to look back at the play, scene by scene, and act out the alternate positive decisions that could have been made enabling positive (non-violent actions) outcomes.
An audience including myself, a prison officer and a police and crime commissioner attended a final performance day. There was a question and answer session in which it was evident that the prisoners had gained a huge amount by participating in this project, for example, increased motivation, raised confidence and self-esteem, positive consequential thinking and elevated awareness in regards to violence and its negative outcomes.
I would recommend Unlock Drama to other Governor’s as the principles of the work had credibility and the men engaged much more enthusiastically than I thought they might. However, learning should be taken from the Chelmsford experience for future sessions around how to ensure numbers engaging are high enough at the start of the process and in order to ensure men can be retained throughout the course.Helen Carter, Governor, HMP Chelmsford, February 2015.
Unlock Drama delivered a ‘Gang Culture’ project at HMP Bristol in November/December 2015. Drama Facilitators worked with incarcerated participants raising confidence, self-esteem and interpersonal skills. Once the group had gelled and learnt appropriate drama skills such as improvisation the issue-based theatre could begin.
Unlock Drama used discussion based activities, role-play and scenarios to explore gang culture. Collating all the information from the participants enabled the facilitators to create scenes showing the negative effects/consequences of gang culture on individuals, family, partners, prison officers and society.
The facilitators used a technique called ‘Forum Theatre’ to revisit the play. The participants used consequential thinking to look at each scene and show what positive decisions could have been made enabling positive outcomes.
The negative play titled ‘Street Life Drama’ was performed to VIP guests such as the High Sheriff of Bristol, the Governor Steve Cross and Lorna Stark Head of Reducing Reoffending etc. Their reaction and pride towards the participant’s efforts were outstanding. The audience were blown away with how much they managed to achieve within such a short two week period.
It was a true wonder to watch the participants gain confidence, skills and reevaluated their choices. Unlock Drama certainly do stick to their tag line and whole heartedly ‘Unlock Potential’.
I would highly recommended Unlock Drama and hope to use their services again very soon.Imam Muhammed Foulds, Managing Chaplain, HMP Bristol, December 2015.
I met Becky, Kat and Rachel from the truly inspirational team that is Unlock Drama when they came to Rochester prison in September 2015 to work with the men here on a drama project regarding NPS (New Psychoactive Substances). I am currently working alongside them again on a piece of drama for Black History Month.
Unlock Drama’s workshops look at current, relative issues regarding the Criminal Justice System; then challenges the topic by way of drama. It is character building for all who take part, motivational and gives the audience a different perspective.
It has been a true honour and privilege to meet and work with Unlock Drama.John, Past Participant, HMPYOI Rochester, October 2015.
Unlock Drama delivered a NPS (New Psychoactive Substances) Awareness Project at HMP/YOI Rochester in September 2015. NPS is an increasing issue particularly in the custodial settings. It was extremely beneficial to utilise the tailor-made service Unlock Drama offer to tackle the issue of NPS. This project explored the current issues surrounding NPS within the Criminal Justice System (CJS). This was commissioned by NHS England. Using the medium of drama it enabled the participants to gel quickly and tackle issue-based subjects within a safe working environment. This therefore meant that the amount of work produced was of a high quality within such a short period of time.
Unlock Drama used their knowledge of working with groups of prisoners within the CJS which shined through in every aspect of their work. Workshops are carefully planned to enable participants to get the most out of every session. It was evident that each and every individual involved in this project revelled in the experience and gained heightened confidence and self-esteem. Participants also achieved increased interpersonal skills such as: communication, team-building and leadership. A Peer Mentor participant wrote the following in their post project evaluation “everyone has come out of their shells and gained immense confidence.”
Unlock Drama created a final performance focused on the use of NPS in prisons. This play explored the following issues: short term side effects of NPS, long term side effects of NPS and how its use affects families and prison staff. The performance included current issues that are being faced at HMP/YOI Rochester. After the negative effects of NPS were shown, Unlock Drama remade scenes to show what positive choices could have been made which included support available within HMP/YOI Rochester. Staff including the Governor Andy Hudson and prisoners watched the final performance and the feedback was outstanding. A participant gave this project a 10 out of 10 in their post project evaluation and the reason behind this was because “it highlights the situations of NPS. It raises awareness of the NPS situation.”
Unlock Drama produced a final performance that raised awareness about NPS with the aim of preventing prison populations from using such substances. The play was hard hitting, emotive and powerful. I would highly recommend Unlock Drama’s services and hope to run another project in the near future. A participant stated in their post project evaluation if there was anything they would change about the project, they stated “it should be longer. Put on a show for the prison and prisoners, this project should be on a larger scale”. HMP/YOI Rochester hope that this is just the beginning of several interventions being put in place to enable such a topic, as NPS, to be explored further and in turn reach out to even more of the prison population.
The final performance was filmed by our in house film project with a view to using excerpts for induction for all prisoners.
In my view the project was fantastically run, well organised and focused week that delivered the message more powerfully than I could of hoped. It was developed and delivered by prisoners who really understand the impact of NPS in their community.
I am sure we will be using Unlock Drama in the future to assist in developing other projects.Wayne Hodges, Head of Reducing Reoffending, HMP/YOI Rochester.
Unlock Drama ran full-time Performing Arts provisions at HMYOI Wetherby for a four month period from January 2015. Within this time-frame Unlock Drama worked with over 60 young people aged 15-17. The young people enrolled in the Performing Arts provisions were of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and learning abilities. Unlock Drama ensured that each and every session was carefully structured to enable each individual participating to reach their full potential. The sessions encouraged high engagement and created a safe working environment which the young people responded extremely well to. Unlock Drama’s hands-on approach to learning was well received by our young people. It was wonderful to watch our young people come out of their shells.
Unlock Drama’s specialised Drama Facilitators were flexible and adaptable. The facilitators could quickly gauge the group’s mood and would think on their feet tailoring each session appropriately ensuring positive outcomes. Working within a young offenders institute can be an extremely challenging environment, through Unlock Dramas specially tailored skills they were able to navigate each session, ensuring the young people gained as much as they possibly could from each session.
The Performing Arts provisions included confidence and interpersonal skills building and issue-based theatre. The issue-based theatre explored crime and consequences of actions through the medium of drama. This encouraged consequential thinking, self-awareness, empathy and decision making skills.
Post project evaluations were filled out and raised confidence was one of the key outcomes. Young people stated “I’m more confident in myself and when I stand up and speak out loud”, “more confidence and relationships” and “more confident about myself”. Interpersonal skills were also a noticeable outcome. Young people wrote “I can work in a group and do work”; “working in a team has made a change” and “I’m more involved with others”.
It was wonderful to see HMYOI Wetherby’s young people who came into the sessions introverted and unwilling become so enthused by the issue-based drama that they began self-exploring and directing scenes independently and engaged incredibly well. It was a joy to behold.
When asked if the young people would recommend this course to others 90% said yes. Young people stated that they would recommend this course for the following reasons: “you can work in a group like you would in real life”, “because it’s fun and good learning”, “yes I would because if they are not very confident their confidence will grow” and “it is a fun and helpful course for
I would highly recommend Unlock Drama and I hope that HMYOI Wetherby can use their services again soon.Kirstin Barnes, Head of Reducing Reoffending, HMYOI Wetherby.
In a highly demanding and challenging environment, Rebecca’s Unlock Drama programme provides a creative, well-structured and relevant contribution to the rehabilitative work already ongoing in prisons.
Unlock Drama’s most recent ‘Restoring Family Ties’ project provided upbeat and engaging workshops that focused on the importance of maintaining familial contact and networks whilst in custody.
Rebecca’s passion and motivation, both theatrically and morally, are a resounding reason for the successes of her groups.
Her unassuming attitude in delivery ensures she gets the most out of her candidates and whilst developing them in performing arts, asks them to challenge their ideals, consider others’ views and to graduate the course not only as more confident individuals, but as better informed, better connected husbands, fathers, brothers. It is these often-undervalued soft skills that make Rebecca’s Unlock Drama superb and I look forward to working again with her in the future.Andrew Milner, Head of Operations, HMP Brixton.
Rebecca is a cheerful, confident and competent person whose infectious enthusiasm permeates up through everything she does.
Her sessions are lively and varied and designed to gently push people out of their comfort zones while still allowing them to do as much or as little as they feel comfortable with. She seems to have a bottomless pit of new ideas and activities and the session really flows.
Our residents have really benefitted from attending her classes on so many levels. By taking them to places that they would never normally go in their day to day lives, it has put them back in touch with themselves and put them more in touch with each other. The difference in people before and after a session is staggering. Everyone comes away feeling stimulated, energised and generally much better about themselves. It’s a shame that you cant bottle the effect that Rebeccas sessions have on people.Pat Bonnett, Housing Support Officer, Milton Keynes YMCA.
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