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 – thank
s 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