Drama Healing in University Hospital Coventry

This has to be the most rewarding project we have done to date! Caste Away Arts are in collaboration with University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire’s Healing arts team. We are delivering a drama programme called Play-up for people with chronic illness in hospital care.

Play-up involves myself and Leshanth going on to hospital wards and offering drama sessions in groups or 1-2-1 for those who are willing. This really has enabled us as practitioners to work outside of the box because our participants are hooked to a machine and are not mobile.  I was so nervous about going onto the ward at first not because I was scared of delivering the project but my fear of blood! Our taster was on the Renal Unit where people are having dialysis. Leshanth had to calm me down before starting – thanks you DR in the making.  I was cured of my fear of blood because focus was totally diverted to the smiles of  people’s faces!  We successfully engaged most people on the bay in an activity and those that fell asleep on us we didn’t take it personally. It became part of the fun.

Inspiration for this project  came from visiting a friend in hospital who was miserable as was everyone else on that ward ; and being my usual self I get talking too everyone and ended up having banter with all the patients on the ward. I noticed how they laughed, joked and momentarily their focus was on the sickness but in that conversation. The dialogue spread on the bay and by the time I left everyone was friends. I did walk away thinking ‘wow did I do that?’ and this got me wired to the idea of delivering my own projects in hospitals.

There is a direct link between wellness and arts. Arts opens people up. It’s cathartic. Its painless. Play up has not only challenged the participants creatively but cognitively and emotionally too. One of our participants said that this helped pass hours like minutes. Some people said this is the first time someone has spoken with them. Others were honoured that we took an interest in them as people and not as patients.  This project has tackled isolation, engaged people on the ward to start talking, boosted well-being and made people laugh.

Yes it was challenging thinking of activities on the spot with people you have never met or not sure who will be willing to work. This is the beauty of Caste Away Arts.  We are inclusive and bring arts to the people whether that be to a hospital bed. There are no barriers. Most importantly out  focus was on our participants as people with no mention of their illness unless is comes up in awkward jokes as it did. We were totally buzzing after every session! looking forward to more.


Reena and Leshanth


Building Bridges in the Ukraine 2018


Caste Away Arts were bestowed with the opportunity to work with some lovely young people in the beautiful town of Ternopil in Western Ukraine. With over 30 schools all specialising in different areas we chose one of the most disaffected.  For the students of Ternopil 7, this was their encounter with someone from the British South Asian community so they were excited to say the least. This created the perfect opportunity for us to create positive images and give them a real taste of diversity to build a bridge between us. The experience was like stepping back in time literally.  They had black boards, no internet, minimal facilities but they were liberal. the students were delightful.  There was a buzz and I certainly felt welcome.

I worked with two sets of year 9, one where we totally deranged the room as I do and the other outside in the sun. The drama workshop consisted of really getting the young people out of their comfort zone and celebrating what was weird, wonderful and unique about them. It took a while to warm up but they soon came out of their shell bursting with character.

As always our workshops are a bag of laughs and really stretch the imagination including mine as there was a language barrier.  The outcomes: Everyone is different and that is OK. The kids also got to learn English from a native speaker and learned the meaning of ‘Namaste’ a true enrichment for them.

The sessions ended with a Q&A’s which was a chance to get to know a new face and an opportunity to dispel negative pre-conceptions. During my time in Ukraine I noticed a lot of hostility towards the ‘Gypsy’ communities which was deemed perfectly acceptable. Islamophobia too was very rife because of negative reporting.  The discussion was an opportunity to talk about diversity,  acceptance and tackle some inflammatory subjects. All of this was well received and opened the minds of these young souls.  It all ended in tears of joy and selfies. I walked away feeling like celebrity.

Thank you School 7 for your time and I look forward to working with you again.  Namaste


love Reena