We want those that participate in our endeavours to feel that they can be honest and open with those that they work with, as well as with themselves. We want them to listen to each other and to their audience. This kind of openness will allow them to evolve into even more interesting artists.

The same applies to our audience. We hope that they walk through the door with an open-mind. If so there’s a chance that they can connect with some aspect of their experience of what the artists present, however small. The hope is that such a connection will lead to a discussion and another discussion and then, perhaps, an action. That is change. Open Art is a willingness for that process to take place.

How we do it

While we attempt to utilise many types of media to engage with those that we work with, our main focus is the drama workshops that we organise. These typically run for six to eight weeks. We try to create a schedule that accommodates participants but one that is rigid and uniform as well. We attempt to get individuals on an equal footing and working as a unit towards a common goal; adherence to a disciplined framework is essential to this.

With a team of trained professionals that are hired according to the project, participants will spend the early period of the workshop getting comfortable with the team leaders, the space, and each other. Common theatre games and trust exercises are used to achieve this. Using techniques from ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’, we then move to the next stage.

Once settled, participants will be encouraged to tell their story. Eventually, this story-telling format comprises half of the daily workshop. Together with the workshop leaders, participants will develop their story into something that can be presented on stage to an audience. This could be a piece of spoken word, a movement piece, a song, or a straight monologue. There are no restraints here. In our rehearsal space, participants have an opportunity to express themselves fully without restriction or judgement.

The culmination of the workshops is a series of performances where the individuals themselves get on stage and tell their story. There is a certain level of catharsis for those on stage, while those in the audience feel a connection to the struggle not previously experienced. The performances give an insight into their hopes, fears and pain, and moreover aim to provide inspiration to others in a similar position.