Behind the Label

Behind the Label

Since July 2018, we've been running an 18-week applied theatre project with Theatre Versus Oppression and the homelessness charity, The Wallich.

Behind the Label supports adults who’ve experienced misfortunes such as homelessness, trauma, addiction and mental health problems.

The group learn a range of theatre skills to enable them to create, produce and promote their own theatre production from scratch.

To mark the end of the project, Behind the Label will be putting on two live performances in the Weston Studio from 13 - 14 December, where you’ll get to hear their gritty, real-life stories and the odd Christmas carol, as they strip back the labels that society has given them.

We spoke to some of the group to hear about their experiences so far...

Tia

Tia (left) with Jules (right)
Tia (left) with Jules (right)

I signed up to take part as it was something different to do and I’d wanted to get involved in drama for a while, and this project let us choose what we wanted to do.

The project looks at both the behind-the-scenes stuff as well as the performance but I’m more of an on-stage person and it’s been nice telling our own stories.

We’re writing the script - not following someone else’s - so we know what we’re talking about.

"Giving someone a ‘homeless’ label affects them, so we shouldn’t always try and judge people."

Tia

There’s a structure to the performance but it’s also improvised, and we expand on the story naturally.

If we have a general idea what we’re talking about its easier - there’s less pressure and it flows better if we don’t have to learn lines.

Our stories are all quite similar, so they all interlink with one another. Everything crosses over and flows nicely.

But the main message is that sticking labels on people affects them. Giving someone a ‘homeless’ label affects them, so we shouldn’t always try and judge people.

Jules

Jules
Jules

I’ve been learning about marketing and getting to grips with the behind-the-scenes work and technical side of things – learning about sound, twiddling knobs and mixing desks which was great fun.

I didn’t think I’d make it this far, to be honest. I thought I’d have dropped out by now, but I really enjoy it.

There’s a great group of people here too. One of the mentors at The Wallich’s WISE Project (Working in Sustainable Employment) suggested I get involved so I gave it a go.

I’ve learned a lot about myself though, gained more confidence and discovered it’s okay to say no to people too, which is important.

Shireen – Theatre Versus Oppression Facilitator

Shireen
Shireen

It’s been a long project, but it’s been great to work on. The people involved have all experienced homelessness on some level.

"The project is also very therapeutic with a level of self-help."

Shireen

It’s an opportunity for them to be able to tell their stories and for people to think about the labels that society gives people living on the streets, as we walk past them daily.

The project is also very therapeutic with a level of self-help - looking into cycles and patterns of behaviour - while also working towards our live production at the end which runs over two nights.

It’s first-hand storytelling, some of which can be quite harrowing and in some instances the people telling their stories have never spoken to anyone about it before. But there’s also a lot of comedy and songs too, so it’s nothing too heavy.

Tony

Tony
Tony

My story begins at the start of my life to present day – from prison to homelessness, crime, the good points and the bad, the people I’ve met and my life journey overall.

I’ve learned new skills, made new friends and become more confident as well as learning about lighting and sound.

I also love the production side of theatre now and I can hopefully find another course like this one or do some volunteering.

I had a go at ushering, shadowing one of the team here at the Centre, showing people to their seats, and it’s something I’d like to do again.

I saw War Horse here in July and it was amazing. Overall, it’s been really exciting to see how a theatre works and all the things that go on backstage.

I’m really looking forward to doing the performance in December. I’m a little bit nervous but not too bad.