‘In Plain Sight’: Review and Photo Gallery
By Sharon Sharman, Learning and Evaluation manager, VOICES
& Claire Ritchie, No one Left Out: Solutions Ltd
VOICES recently commissioned local arts-based companies, B Arts and Rideout, to coproduce a live promenade performance based on actual lived experiences of local people. The powerful performance, which ran for eight evenings during February 2020, explored the challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness, rough sleeping, mental ill-health and substance misuse. Audiences were provided with insight and understanding of the effects of long term and multiple traumas through following the journeys of two characters, Tash and Steve.
We would like to give huge thanks to B Arts and Rideout and to all involved in producing and managing the performances. This extends to the team that provided warm, fresh food for each performance and to VOICES staff and volunteers who invested additional time to co-design, deliver, and staff each evening.
The performances were extremely well attended. We are very proud to have engaged with the variety of individuals and services across the city and members of the public who purchased tickets. Jonathan Gullis MP, Jo Gideon MP and several local councillors were able to join us and provided very positive feedback. A big shout out to our new City Director, Jon Rouse, who had only been in post for a few days but took time to engage with us to learn about some of the difficulties that our citizens experience.
As a result of the show we will be meeting in future with our MPs to look at how they can offer support to people in Stoke-on-Trent experiencing multiple needs. We have been invited to present learning opportunities within North Staffs Combined Health Care Trust and we are making plans to deliver a learning programme within Dovegate Prison.
One key element of the show is a group of trauma-informed buskers (professional musicians, actors and singers) who delivered very powerful parts of the characters journeys through song. Claire Ritchie, a national consultant in trauma-informed care and psychologically informed environments attended one of the performances and sent us this review. We think she describes it very well.
Review of In Plain Sight: The Lives and Hopes of Invisible People
I just couldn’t stop grinning. The trauma informed buskers! It was ingenious! Inspired! I knew I was going to enjoy the evening. If you’re unfamiliar with, or slightly alarmed by, the term trauma informed care, don’t be dissuaded from seeing this interactive, emotional roller-coaster of a performance. In a hilarious, informative and well-balanced manner it explores the predicament of Tash and Steve.
Both homeless when we meet them Tash and Steve attempt to navigate the frustrating and complex systems of support we have created, which unfortunately and unintentionally often add to a person’s emotional distress. We follow them on their personal journeys and witness them becoming “angry” and “self-sabotaging” in their response to the help offered by the overwrought and well-meaning staff.
The audience, moving around the warehouse space in tandem with the captivating players and their multi-talented buskers, are asked to consider the experience and emotions of both parties; services and customers. How can we change the system? Do we even want to? Whilst pondering this question we are offered a deeply personal and revealing insight into the protagonists’ histories. Later, with food we sit in small groups and discuss our thoughts and what needs to change. Absolutely fabulous!
Everyone should see this – the public, professionals, politicians, practitioners already in the homeless field. Because we all need to understand why some people become homeless and the role psychological trauma plays in this modern-day scandal.
Without spoiling the plot let me just say having worked in the sector for 25 years plus and being familiar with the impact of psychological trauma, I was surprised at the impact “In Plain Sight” had on me. I loved it, couldn’t stop thinking about it. Well done to the writers, actors and funders; B arts and Rideout, VOICES team, volunteers who shared lived experiences and The National Lottery Community Fund. We want more!
Claire Ritchie – No one Left Out: Solutions Ltd
(specialises in supporting services to become Psychologically Informed Environments).