‘This has been better than any therapy‘
This partnership has grown from a visit to the theatre in 2015 by BAFTA award winner Cathy Tyson with her production She Called Me Mother about a homeless woman who had experienced domestic violence. Since this point Theatre Royal have worked with women experiencing and recovering from domestic violence in partnership with the Women’s Aid Centre.
‘I have loved this experience. It’s therapeutic, healing. I get a distance, a perspective on my story. We have also had fun. The whole thing has been very powerful and empowering.‘
Each year women have the opportunity to participate in weekly workshops led by writer Danusia Iwaszko and develop new theatre performances performed by professional actors, telling their own stories and performing at Theatre Royal and beyond. Audiences comprise of family, friends and sector staff; from police, NHS, social services and other legal and welfare organisations. Women have an opportunity to share their lived experience through theatre and then talk directly to the audience in post-show conversations, offering an opportunity for staff to learn from the women’s experience of being supported through this process.
‘It was lovely to see the audience totally genuinely interested. Engaging, not fidgeting. Being able to tell your story is a really important thing. Sometimes, in bad times you forget who you are.‘
Participants have the opportunity to engage with the theatre arts program by attending performances throughout the year of main stage productions as a group or with their children and access the opportunities through the annual Doorstep children’s festival. In 2019 Theatre Royal were awarded Arts Council funding to develop a new play by Danusia Iwaszko about women’s experience of refuge and domestic violence. This is currently in development and due to be completed by 2022.
‘This performance should be part of the educational program for police constables, CID and nurses. And social workers‘