The Incredibles II
Almost 200 guests attended a one-of-a-kind performance staged at Birmingham’s Repertory Theatre (The REP) starring customers from midlands based housing and care organisation Midland Heart.
Inspired by the Rep’s current performance of “Little Voice” thirteen customers from a diverse range of backgrounds, including with mental illness or disabilities, have worked with a Director from The REP to create a moving, dramatised performance entitled ‘From the Fall to the Rise’. It features a fictional character, Harold on a journey to find his voice.
The performance by The Incredibles, so named because of the inspirational stories of the individuals and the stories of those they are re-enacting, has enabled people from a range of backgrounds and those living in supporting housing who may have been homeless, a chance to regain their confidence – equipping them with more of the life skills they need to progress and succeed. Team work, self confidence, punctuality, concentration and responsibility are just a few of the skills they have learnt over the weeks, empowering them to begin a new chapter in their lives.
Meet Hafiza*. Originally from East London, homeless, living on the streets and with all sorts of problems she now lives in one of our supported housing schemes in Northampton. She gets up at 5am to get a taxi and train ready for rehearsals in Birmingham each morning. She's never missed a session, has learnt all the words and from initially quiet and withdraw has become a key member of the cast, helping others, encouraging and making drinks. She never thought she would have the skills to get a job.
Other cast members have commented as follows:
“The project has given me more confidence, I can talk to people more than I did before.”
“Doing this has given me a boost of confidence and I'm able to talk about how I really feel.”
“…this is helping me cope with my depression.”
Alan Jephcott, Resident Involvement Manager, said: “In three short weeks a group of 13 customers, with a range of particular needs, who'd never met each other before have become a theatre company. Under the direction of the Reps Chris Hill, they have turned up each day, written a three part musical, rehearsed, encouraged each other and fully met all the professional standards that have been asked of them. It really is incredible!”
Sara Beamand, Director of Care and Support said: “Working with the Birmingham Rep has been fantastic. Their professionalism and the warm way they have embraced such a diverse cast, for the second year running, has been great. Director Chris Hill has been superb, enabling each individual achieve all they can, make a positive contribution to the production and learn new skills along the way. It’s great to see less able customers developing new skills and putting them to good use in progressing their lives.”
The production has also attracted the attention of the Learning and Participation Department at Warwick University, researching into the outcomes of the project for each of the cast members. Observations, interviews, group activities and individual stories will all be harnessed into a PhD report, used to help other theatres with similar ventures in the future.
In three short weeks the cast have taken a giant leap towards independence, able to face whatever life throws at them with renewed confidence, fresh aspirations and voice that will always be heard.
* Name changed.