Dance in a prison chapel

25 August 2017

In an exciting partnership project with Odd Arts, this September, sees us take our outdoor dance piece, Of Man And Beast, into a UK prison setting for the first time.

On Tues 12 Sept, we will take dance into Barton Moss Secure Unit and Wymott Prison in Greater Manchester with two unique performances of our outdoor dance production, Of Man And Beast.

The performances are being facilitated by Odd Arts, a Manchester based organisation who use applied theatre and creative arts to address and explore challenging issues with vulnerable and hard to reach groups. Based in the same building as Chameleon, the partnership came about when Odd Arts Director, Rebecca Friel, was invited into the studio to watch an Of Man And Beast rehearsal.

Rebecca explains: “I saw a performance for Of Man and Beast and was blown away by the comparisons to the power and hierarchy struggles we feel when working within male prisons, and the subtle shift between aggression and vulnerability.  

We spoke to Company Chameleon about how powerful this performance would be in a prison setting, we hope that it will challenge and inspire the prison staff and inmates and inject a burst of well needed creativity into the often hostile and regimented prison space.

We put in a successful bid to Arts Council England to fund theatre and performance within the criminal justice sector and are thrilled that Company Chameleon can be part of this wider programme of activity when they join us at Barton Moss Secure Unit and Wymott Prison.  The secure institutions are excited for this opportunity and we can’t wait to see what impact is has.”

The project will see Company Chameleon take their work into a UK prison for the first time. Barton Moss is a 20 place secure unit for vulnerable young offenders that believes in creating an atmosphere for young people that promotes emotional wellbeing and caring relationships, while Wymott Prison is a Category C prison in Lancashire that houses over 1000 male adult prisoners.

Our Co-Artistic Director, Kevin Edward Turner, hopes the project will enable the participants to reflect on some of their own experiences. Kevin said:

“Of Man And Beast explores masculinity and what it means to be a man. Stereotypically, we associate traits such as being macho and strong with masculinity, and other characteristics, such as tenderness, fragility and sensitivity, are pushed to the side.  I hope by watching a performance of the piece and by taking part in a workshop, the experience will give the young men the opportunity to question their thoughts around what it means to be male and to think about the many different aspects to it. I hope that they engage with what they see and by reflecting on some of their own experiences, they relate back to the work and express and be part of the creative process.”

Keep up to date with Company Chameleon’s touring and educational work on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Find out more about Odd Arts here.

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