Inside is a project which explores the experience of institutional detention through drama and creative writing. Inside worked with a group of teenage girls at Juniperina Juvenile Justice centre in south west Sydney and a group of women at Lou’s Place, a centre for homeless women in King’s Cross, Sydney.
Drama and writing tutors worked with the young people within the confines of the correctional centre helping them to develop communication skills in both drama and the spoken word. The objective was to write and produce a video based on the real-life experiences of the young people.
The artists involved in the Inside project recognised that many of the young people taking part in the project had suffered from abuse, poverty, neglect and violence. They came from a wide range of cultural backgrounds but most had a limited education and faced poor employment prospects.
The aim of the project was to work with these young people who had been excluded from the cultural and social life of society by nature of their disadvantage and to help them discover new pathways to expression through the arts.
The producers of the project undertook a process of negotiation and planning with Juvenile Justice professionals to fine-tune the proposed project to suit the needs of the participants.
The project used a process of “Playbuilding” as a basis to achieve its objectives. This involved a series of drama workshops where a script is written based on stories which participants bring to the workshops.
The young people brought stories to the group within the workshop setting. These stories were recounted and then the members of the group adopted characters from the story and acted it out to the rest of the participants. The stories were then discussed among the group with an emphasis on contemplating different pathways which might have been adopted resulting in different outcomes. In this way the workshops used elements of “Forum Theatre” and “Restorative Justice” to explore areas of behavioural and social change.
The writers took the individual vignettes which were performed and created a narrative thread which linked and incorporated elements of the different stories in order to create a longer piece of work which was then recorded over a number of weeks. Thus video and sound recording and digital photography were used to enhance the arts experience and also to impart technical skills to the participants.
Due to privacy restrictions we were unable to release photos or video outside of the JJ centre but we are able to provide a transcript of the screenplay of the finished video entitled “Homeless Away”.
Women’s Video Project at Lou’s Place, Kings Cross
Virus Media worked with Silent Cells, Sydney City Council, Nic Nac Theatre and women from Lou’s Place to deliver drama, writing and video workshops and produce a short film. Many of the women involved in the project had experience of prison and also mental health institutions.
Writer Alana Valentine conducted interviews with the women and has written a treatment for a feature film which will now be developed.
The aim of the project was to deliver video, drama and creative writing skills. The women produced a short video – “Art from the Heart” – about the healing qualities of art and thoroughly enjoyed the creative experience.