In 2010, Theatre Nemo ran a ten-week animation project at Leverndale Hospital.
Most of the participants in the project had experienced limited patterns of occupation and had, had little access to community resources. Most of the participants were also recipients of forensic mental health services at the hospital; this means they are cared for, but also kept in secure conditions.
The reason that this project was so beneficial to the participants was because it offered them an oppurtunity to have positive experiences, which would in turn, hopefully improve self confidence. It was hoped that by creating a relaxed and informal group setting, those participating in the project would feel confident, whilst also getting the oppurtunity to explore new mediums. As the group progressed, Theatre Nemo staff subtly teased individuals within the group, in order to explore their imaginations and develop characters using pre-made wire and plastercine models.
This was an exciting project for Theatre Nemo and the participants, because it is seldom that individuals in forensic settings have the opportunity to be in control and directly influence aspects of their being without some form of constraint. Part of the animation involved recording voice overs and singing which allowed the men to see and hear themselves on screen. For the individuals involved, this was significant and insightful as one of the constraints of the forensic setting that they live in is that the men do not freely have access to mirrors.
During the recording process the men appeared dramatically more confident when acting and ‘in character’. It has been considered that the use of characters provided an opportunity for the individuals to project something of themselves into an inanimate object, allowing them to be someone else.
This stage of the process could be considered from a psychodynamic perspective which utilises exploratory approaches – like play – to assist with the expression of unarticulated emotions. Participants were actively encouraged by the enthusiastic facilitators to work co-operatively and collaboratively as part of a team and have developed their communication skills e.g. the need to negotiate with each other, listen to each others views and ideas, be respectful of each other, build working relationships and provide feedback to each other.
Below is a short animation, but together by some of those involved in the project:
Talking about the results of the project, participants said:
“I enjoyed spending time with my family at the premiere of the film. As a result I have made more of an effort to see my family on a regular basis”
“I felt like people were listening to my ideas”.