The Skills Hub, Hillingdon

Last week, Unlock Drama completed our first violence reduction project with young people in a Pupil Referral Unit, working with a group of young people from The Skills Hub. Facilitators Beth, Julia and student placement facilitator Carys, worked with the young people from Monday-Thursday to consider the impacts of violence and how changes in behaviour might reduce violence, all through drama.

The group made an excellent group contract, looking at how we should approach the week, which everyone signed. Thinking about and writing down our collective guidelines for the week meant that we could all enjoy ourselves, maintain playful energy and be respectful of one another. The group did an excellent job giving the drama a go, learning about drama techniques such as projection, improvisation and split stage. They particularly enjoyed the games we played with some favourites including pass the pulse, splat and king of the jungle. They also did excellently at improvisation exercises such as “this is not a chair” and “what are you doing?”

The group gave lots of ideas on Tuesday about what they thought about violence, who it affects, what triggers it and its long and short term effects. Using this, the facilitators put together a skeletal plan for a performance that the group then spent Wednesday and Thursday morning working on ahead of their final performance. The group worked on two short plays looking at violence and its impact on people, which included themes of debt, alcohol, racism, friendship, and many more.

The group did a great job at consequential thinking for each character, considering what behaviours or circumstances could change to have a more positive outcome overall. The group had great reflections on their characters, including one young person reflecting that it would be challenging and upsetting to tell a family member that their relative would not survive after an act of violence as a doctor in a hospital. Additionally, other performers decided that their characters should recognise that they might get violent if they went to the party and therefore opt not to go, which took great insight. We performed the play and followed it with the consequential thinking scenes, showing the alternative decisions. The group did an excellent job in their performance! We then finished the week by playing some of their favourite games and reflecting on how the week had gone. 

Feedback from the week includes: 

  • “These projects get them thinking about opportunities they don’t normally get in alternative education. It gets them thinking about different avenues and careers. Broadens insights. A small cohort allows for a better experience.” - Staff Member
  • “I believe in myself more.” - Young person
  • “More confident. I didn’t know I was good at drama.” - Young person
  • "Yeah, I’ve seen them make mistakes, but they haven’t let themselves down.” - Young person commenting on any changes they've seen in their peers

Overall, Unlock Drama had a wonderful experience on our first violence reduction project with young people in a PRU, and we thank The Skills Hub for having us! We are looking forward to doing more and more projects in this context in the future!