218 Pilot Group – Blog Part 2
We felt that the puppetry experience enabled a place of respite, where we could communally make something together and find the joy out of the creation and simple, yet effective storylines. We were able to offer stories that were an analogy or metaphor of their lives/hopes and dreams. Ideas were discussed, such as trying to run up a set of stairs, tripping and falling and not feeling fit or strong enough to achieve something, then overcoming barriers and hurdles to finally get to the top of the stairs. This simple analogy was a reflection on the journey of recovery from addiction. Once the group understood this they were able to embellish and develop their story.
We noted that the group were able to discuss other subjects outside of the ‘218’ recovery process. Meaningful conversations were shared about parenting, special occasions, fashion and styles, embracing ageing, dreams of settling into a new home, sobriety and being part of the wider recovery network.
It’s worth noting that decision making, in general, was difficult for the group, especially when they had just been administered their medication. Certain women felt drowsy and spaced out. The women who live at the Centre have a raft of chronic problems. It was a challenge to get them to decide on a story at first because they were either simply not in the mood or were distracted. Some weren’t in a stable place to explore aspects of their own character. They were, however happy with their puppets as they were tangible objects, each woman had a sense of ownership as she had made it. However, when we tried to further the creativity this, for some, generated fear and perhaps a concern about getting it wrong due to having low self-belief in their abilities.
It was hugely satisfactory to watch the making of the puppets evolve with further embellishments being added, using colourful string and to explore the potential storylines. It was clear that, for some people, writing ideas on paper brought a sense of fear and doubt into the workshop. Perhaps it reminded them of school or felt exposing to their personal circumstances?
This was overcome when we moved on to writing ideas on a white board so that everyone could participate in the process as a group. The women became much more engaged, confident and interactive. We also played a selection of music tracks to complement each individual story and the women were very clear what would work for them. The positive group dynamic was helpful in alleviating the initial fear of developing a story.
Once small rehearsal teams got together, there was a sense of excitement and a steady progression from rehearsal to performance. The process enabled everyone to play their part either as a director, a puppeteer or audience member. Other women and staff from the Centre came to watch their performance. There was a sense of nervousness and after the first story was complete you could feel the confidence of the women growing. The staff really encouraged the women, even shouting and supporting an absent woman’s performance which was helped along by other group members.
There was a positive uplifting atmosphere and the event concluded with feedback and cakes. It was evident that the women had really enjoyed the project and had gained a lot from taking part.
We hope that they may remember the techniques and make a puppet with their children one day and regain the self-belief that they can achieve ambitious things in their lives. They may remember that they tapped into their creativity and gave themselves permission to play again.