The Whiz Head
““I can’t wait for my brother to see me doing something I can be proud of, and he can be proud of me for. He’s always seen me do bad things””
— Recovering Addict, Reflections Housing Association
imagine if Theatre were commissioned by Spectrum People to deliver a drama project with their service users and residents at Reflections Housing Association who all have a history of addiction and/or mental health issues. The project consisted of delivering ten drama workshops over twelve weeks which culminated in two performances showcased in The Phoenix Theatre at Airedale Academy in Castleford. The play created from the participants’ ideas was based on the children’s film The Wizard of Oz and explored the journey into addiction of the central character Dorothy and her eventual decision to choose the path to recovery.
“The drama workshops have given me a lot of confidence, that I can do other stuff instead of drinking, can do something that’s positive, something new, and follow it though” Recovering addict, Reflections Housing Association
Participation in the project allowed individuals to not only develop self-esteem and confidence but they also learned about stage craft and performance skills. The play – The Whiz Head – produced by the participants, raised awareness for all aspects of the addiction cycle including: initial usage, escalation, dependence, withdrawal, recovery and even death.
“How brave the performers were – inspiring; enjoyed seeing and hearing them at the end and their energy” Audience Member, Phoenix Theatre
The Whiz Head was performed to an audience of year nine and year ten students in The Phoenix Theatre at Airedale Academy in the afternoon and to a public audience in the evening. Both performances were accompanied by a question and answer session where the cast got the opportunity to share their experiences of addiction, recovery and taking part in the project.
‘It teaches you why you shouldn’t take drugs or do anything you don’t want to’ – Year Ten Student, Airedale Academy
Participants grew in confidence and self-belief and showed increased enthusiasm and engagement with the project. The performance in particular made them feel proud of themselves and as some commented they have had very little that they could feel proud of at times in their lives. They were particularly excited to do something positive in front of friends and family and were also grateful that they had the opportunity to perform to the young people at the school and to open their eyes to issues around addiction and recovery. They took pride in their achievement.
We are extremely grateful for the support received from The Community Foundation Wakefield and Comic Relief to enable us to undertake this pilot project and we are delighted at the outcomes. To discuss funding this type of work moving forward, please contact Francesca Joy from imagine if Theatre on the contact information below: