Wednesday 19 October 2011

Health Poverty Action

Health Poverty Action works to strengthen poor and marginalised people in their struggle for health. They prioritise those missed out by almost everyone else.

Their approach to health is distinctive in two ways:

Firstly, they focus on the most poor and the most marginalised. Secondly, they believe in a comprehensive approach - not just improve health services, but also focus on other factors that impact on health such as water, sanitation and nutrition.

they have built up long-term relationships and trust with many of the poorest and most marginalised communities. They may be on the edge of society because of or culture, gender, geography, politics, economics – or any combination of these. For these people every day is a fight for life and health, against all the odds.

Poor health and poverty are each a key cause and consequence of the other. By addressing both at the same time HPA can improve one by improving the other.

Health Poverty Action recognizes health as a fundamental human right, not simply a medical challenge. The world’s poorest also have this right – they should be aware of it and able to insist it is recognised. They need a voice, and we help them raise it.

For more information, please visit their website,

Friday 7 October 2011

Health Poverty Action visits Drama St. Mary's Applied Theatre Students

On the 6th of October, members of Health Poverty Action (HPA) visited Drama St. Mary's students who will be working in Africa in May 2012 as a part of their Theatre for Development module at St. Mary's.

The staff from HPA discussed their work around women's rights, poverty and health. Fatima Mohammed, from Somaliland, discussed her work using drama to improve communication and education within her country.

The students were able to ask HPA questions about their work as well as contribute to a discussion around the use of drama in health care. They discussed the potential for radio to broadcast messages around HIV, female genital mutilation, childbirth and gender equality issues and heard from Fatima that these radio programmes have had great effect in changing the listener's behaviour around these, and other, topics.

Second Year Applied Theatre students welcomed playwright Dennis Kelly

Today, the Second Year Applied Theatre students welcomed playwright Dennis Kelly to their rehearsal for the upcoming 'A-Political Cabaret' at the Dolche Vita. Dennis spent the afternoon with the students discussing playwrighting, focusing on political theatre as well as life as a theatre practitioner.

As this module is the first time many of the students have attempted to write anything for the theatre, they had many questions for him on how to begin and how to know whether or not something is 'good.' He advised that when you have an idea for a play - whether it is a character, theme or scene, then start from there and not to censor yourself while creating. And do get feedback from the work, though whether you take the advice or not is up to you. But if you hear it from enough people, it might be something to consider.

Kelly is an incredibly humble and generous person. The students threw a lot at him but he responded in ways that made sense to the students and gave them a way forward. The students commented that they came away from the discussion much more motivated and secure in their own creativity.

'A-Political Cabaret' is an evening of New Writing Theatre that presents an ambitious programme reflecting the ongoing local, national & global political situation at St. Mary's University College. The performances will include a mixture of play texts, poetry reading, song, forum theatre, verbatim theatre and much more. A-Political Cabaret needs productions that are radical and have a unique take on current events.

Throughout the Autumn & Winter, A-Political Cabaret will be creating regular performances with and for St. Mary's Students and the community. This is an opportunity to showcase new work in a public forum. It serves as Legislative Theatre, where the students not only have an opportunity to present work to their peers, there are also drama lecturers, heads of department and St. Mary's management there to listen to their opinions. This gives the students an unpresendented opportunity to discuss things with people who shape their futures.

The next shows are on 25 November and 16 December at 6pm at the Dolche Vita coffee shop on campus.

Positive East Interviews - October 2011

This is a continuation of the relationship that started last year between PositiveEast and Drama St. Mary’s. We will be working with Positive East exploring the topic of 'Gender Equality & Safer Sex' in the UK.

The students interviewed six participants from Positive East. They were selected due to their stories and their comfort in speaking publicly about them. The students were professional as well as sympathetic to each of the interviewees. Each had positive responses about the interviews once they were finished and commended the students' on their interest and work.

The next stages is to see if these interviews can fit within the verbatim play that the students are creating for their trip to Malawi in May 2012. They will also be interviewing family and friends about their thoughts on 'Gender Equality and Safer Sex' which will also be a part of the play.

We will take the play to Malawi as part of our exchange and tour to teacher training colleges around Lilongwe. The hope is to share practice around verbatim and forum theatre with the teachers and staff from TfaC.

PositiveEast was thrilled at the outcome of last year’s performance of the play, Turning Poison into Medicine (original title, Living with HIV in the UK)in May 2010. Several of those interviewed were in the audience in February at St. Mary’s and participated in the post-show feedback session. The play was performed outside of a school in Lilongwe, Malawi to a captive audience and was very well received by both Theatre for a Change and their learners. The play was later filmed at Nickelodeon studios in central London to be distributed by MTV as a part of the HIV awareness programme. There are also plans to distribute it in student film festivals. The second part of the play, Living with HIV in Malawi, was performed to a packed audience at the Waldegrave Drawing Room at St. Mary’s upon return from Malawi in May 2011. This play was based on interviews conducted with sex workers in Malawi and on the students' experiences in Malawi.