what fun, performance-related activities would you teach in a high-security prison?
posted by twistofrhyme to Education (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
i have a background teaching & working with under-served youth, mostly in the field of drama / performance. next week, i am leading 2 guest workshops in a high-security british prison. the content can be whatever i want- communication, improv, acting, group dynamics, whatever. it should have some performance component, and it should be fun and playful.
i'm allowed to use audiovisuals (although i'm not sure what i'd use, nor how compatible my DVDs would be) and handouts (although at least 50% of the inmates can't read).
i will have 2 groups of 20 inmates for 2 hours each.
group 1 are "vulnerable inmates" facing threats from the mainstream prison population. apparently they like this kind of guest speaker session a lot and tend to be engaged & participatory.
group 2 are the mainstream population, who tend to also be pretty open to this kind of stuff but are a bit more rowdy and disruptive.
i thought i'd like to do stuff involving improv, acting, self-expression, comedy, or performance.
i want the inmates to have fun, feel that i like & respect them, and feel safe with each other in the workshop. i want them to all feel talented & successful at the end, and maybe get to practice some kind of communication skill that they can apply to their daily life or get some sort of self-esteem boost from (like "hey, i didn't know people thought i was funny!" kind of feelings). and i want them to be able to laugh good-naturedly at each other in a way that won't exacerbate any tensions that may exist within the group. i worry that i'm overthinking things a bit, but that's how i feel. frankly, i'm a little nervous- i'm a young, innocent-looking canadian woman, i speak in a kind of nerdy overenthusiastic cadence which usually makes "tough" people tease me (good-naturedly, and it doesn't hurt my feelings, but i don't want to come off as some nice, clueless suburban girl who thinks she can teach MEANINGFUL LIFE SKILLS or whatever- even if that's kind of what i am), and i'm not particularly street smart, especially compared to prison inmates.
i like the idea of them doing performance stuff, typical improv games like clap-focus, freeze/switch, hotseat, and those games where 2 people tell a story simeltaneously or one-word-at-a-time. simple open scenes, maybe, make-a-story, genre opera, etc. but i don't wanna limit my options to just improv, i feel like there may be other activities that will work well in this context.
in short, my questions are:
1. what kind of performance, expressive, or group dynamics stuff would you teach in this situation?
2. is there any meta-advice you can give me, about what to expect, or how to think about my position in this situation, that will help me relate well to the group?
any advice would be so helpful- thanks in advance!