Over the Rainbow - a site for survivors of any unwanted sexual activity
    Theatre in Education (TIE)
Theatre in Education (TIE) is often used as a tool to tackle difficult issues with young people. In the past TIE has explored issues such as drugs, death, drink driving, crime and homosexuality. I believe that TIE is a highly effective way of allowing young people to discuss and think about issues that are important to them and that sexual violence needs to be included in this. This section includes information on what TIE is, information about 'Unspeakable' - a TIE peice that myself and four others devised and toured as well as thoughts on the ways this subject could be tackled by educational theatre groups in the future.

TIE is a broad term that applies to many different types of work although Jackson (1999) defines the TIE programme as:

"A coordinated and carefully structured pattern of activities , usually devised and researched by the company , around a topic of relevance both to the school curriculum and to the children's own lives, presented in school by the company and involving the children directly in an experience of the situations and problems that the topic throws up (Jackson, 1999, p.4). "

However as Jackson also points out "No simple watertight definition of TIE is possible, or desirable" (Jackson, 1999, p.15) and TIE is often closely linked with other forms of young people's theatre and that there are common characteristics found in each area of work. Probably the main trait of TIE is the "structured and active participation of the children in the drama" (Jackson, 1999, p.1).

'Unspeakable' involved the research, devising and design of a Theatre in Education piece and a follow on drama workshop on the issue of sexual violence, which toured schools and community groups. The project worked in triangulation with three groups of people involved. These were the group we collaborated with - Women Against Rape, our group who devised and performed the piece and workshop and the client group who received the final product. The client group consisted of young people aged between fourteen and seventeen both in schools and non-statutory settings.

The final product consisted of a thirty-minute play and an hour-long drama workshop. The play included several facts in the form of the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. We chose this television game show format as we felt that it would be one that the young people would be able to understand and relate to. There was also a scene about the difficulties women face trying to get justice in the style of a James Bond mission and the whole play opened with a song about the way society and the media view survivors of rape. This was all interspersed with true personal stories of rape survivors, including rape in marriage, date rape, child abuse and asylum seekers.

We titled the piece 'Unspeakable' because rape is a subject that is not spoken about in society and rape survivors' feel silenced by what has happened to them. From our research it was clear that "Many women are deeply affected by rape and sexual assault without anyone around them knowing what has happened" (Hall, 1985, p.142).

The responses to the performance and workshop were often surprising. Although we had anticipated some hostility to the subject we had assumed that this would come form the boys. It was the girls, however, who tended to react defensively to the issues raised and fell heavily into a victim blaming mentality. This was an understandable reaction as it allowed the girls to feel safe - by holding on to myths it meant that they could rule out the possibility of rape being an issue that could effect them. Although it was sometimes disheartening to hear people hold onto the myths that we were setting out to dispel, I also recognised that removing them completely was a task beyond the remit of the project that we were doing. I do believe that we were however, able to challenge some misconceptions surrounding sexual violence and most importantly of all we brought the subject out into the open and made it something that was acceptable to talk about - if only for an hour and a half.

The limitations of the project are very clear. Sexual violence is a massive issue and there was no way for us to include absolutely everything in the time we had. We were unable to include anything on drug rape or on the after-effects of sexual violence, which were both issues that the young people asked about during the workshop or wrote about in the evaluation forms. Ideally I would do a project like this as a residency as this would not only provide more time to cover these issues but would also allow us to build up a level of trust with the group we were working with.

For an example of student responses to 'Unspeakable' click here.

After completing the project above I began work on an enquiry project for a theatre in education company who wanted to explore the possibility of creating work on unwanted sexual contact. The report covered:

  • Previous dramatic representations
  • Client Group Concerns and Pitfalls
  • Avoidance of pitfalls
  • Staff training Approaches to the work
In order to find out the viability of developing work on unwanted sexual contact the research had to cover a wide variety of areas. The research began with background reading into subjects such as child abuse, acquaintance rape, dramatherapy and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the identification of previous dramatic representations of sexual abuse. This reading was carried out with the aim of discovering statistics about abuse, approaches to working with survivors of abuse, long and short term effects of abuse as well as legal definitions about sexual abuse, rape and consent.

Research also included interviews with dramatherapists, teachers, social workers, counsellors, psychotherapists and charities including the NSPCC (National Society for the Protection against Cruelty to Children) and MOSAC (Mothers of Sexually Abused Children).

All the research indicated that there is a definite need for work to be done on the issue of unwanted sexual contact. Sexual abuse in its many different forms is an issue that affects many young people yet it has rarely been tackled by other TIE companies. Developing a programme of work on unwanted sexual contact is not only viable it is also possible that it could play an essential role in the lives of many young people.
"Unspeakable" Student Evaluation Results

Student evaluations were given to all students who saw Unspeakable This is an example of collated responses from one school:

1) What was the most memorable moment from the play? Why did you find this moment memorable?
  1. - When the victim went in to more detail because that got me thinking what if I was in that situation
  2. - When nobody believed the rape victims
  3. - My most memorable bit was the breaks they took to tell those true stories
  4. - The discussion
  5. - The most memorable part of the play was the Asylum woman. Before I had a stereotypical view of Asylum Seekers through TV and newspapers but it totally changed my mind
  6. - Who wants to be a millionaire
  7. - The facts because they were very shocking
  8. - When the victim got raped
  9. - When no one believed the rape victims because it shows that there are some rapists who are getting away with it
  10. - The most memorable moment was probably the song because it was a bit repetitive (but good!)
  11. - Who wants to be a millionaire
  12. - It was the part when the woman was talking about coming from another country and how she was raped because it was the most emotional scene
  13. - The song at the beginning - it put across a lot of opinions many people may have especially when people may have witnessed type of sexual violence
  14. - Who wants to be a millionaire
  15. - The things that stayed in my head were the true stories and the facts
  16. - The moment when she admitted she got raped because it showed that she was brave
  17. - The James Bond sequence because it stood out as more aggressive
  18. - The beginning song, it was a great entrance to the play and really caught my attention for the rest
  19. - When they all sang it was memorable because it was something new
  20. - The James Bond sequence because it stood out as more aggressive
  21. - When the women gave the speech as the asylum seeker - it was really deep
2) Were there any particular parts of the production that you did not understand or found unclear? Please explain why.
  1. - I found the production very easy to understand
  2. - No
  3. - No - it was all clear
  4. - No I understood everything
  5. - No
  6. - Blank
  7. - What happened in the end because there was no clear resolution or finish
  8. - When she got raped she did not explain herself clearly
  9. - No
  10. - Blank
  11. - No
  12. - No I understood the production
  13. - No
  14. - Blank
  15. - No
  16. - No
  17. - No I understood mostly everything
  18. - I understood everything very well - it was well explained and performed
  19. - No
  20. - No I understood it all
  21. - I understood it

3) Do you consider this production to be useful? Why/Why Not?

  1. - Yes very, because it lets you know the ways of dealing with situations like that
  2. - Yes because it could help young people if they have been in that situation
  3. - I find it useful as it opens people's eyes and challenges people's definitions or rape
  4. - Yes because it shows both sides of the story
  5. - I found this production very useful because it makes you aware and you know there are people who are here to help
  6. - yes - I now know what rape is
  7. - I think it was useful because it provided a lot of facts that I did not previously know
  8. - Yes very useful - because if in situation it could help
  9. - It is very useful in that it teaches us that we are always in control of our body and what happens to it
  10. - Yes because it talked about and showed issues that would not normally be ignored or taught badly in lessons that would not inspire
  11. - Yes because it will give me something to think about
  12. - Yes so people can know about rape and the effect it has on people
  13. - Yes it gave many different perspectives and opinions of rape
  14. - Yes, I now know what rape is
  15. - Yes I do because it is good for education and for young adults
  16. - Yes because it helps open people's eyes
  17. - Yes because you can be aware of other similar situations
  18. - Yes because it helps me for the future
  19. - I think it is useful. I think it is useful because I got some facts that I did not know before
  20. - Yes I consider the production to be useful because it explains the play to people and explains that it is bad to have sex without consent
  21. - Yes, from the millionaire bit I learnt lots of facts
4) Which aspects of the workshops did you most enjoy and why?
  1. - The group discussions because I found out views from other people
  2. - The discussion because it was helpful
  3. - The discussion as I got to hear other people's views and ideas
  4. - The most enjoyable part of the play I liked was the discussion
  5. - I most enjoyed the discussion because everyone had different views and it all came together
  6. - Discussion on rape
  7. - I thought the song was clever
  8. - The discussion
  9. - I enjoyed the singing because it was entertaining as well as well as showing what people think of the rape victims
  10. - I enjoyed the discussion at the end because I got to hear other people's point of view
  11. - Blank
  12. - All of it
  13. - The discussion was very informative
  14. - The discussions
  15. - I mostly enjoyed talking about the situation
  16. - The bit where we talk to the characters
  17. - The discussion, it raised some really good issues
  18. - The conversations we had were great! I understood other people's views
  19. - I liked the song because it was something different
  20. - The discussion, it raised a lot of issues
  21. - I enjoyed the song at the beginning, I like it when routines are slick

5) Did you find any part of the performance or workshop difficult? Please explain why.
  1. - No
  2. - No
  3. - No
  4. - No it was all very easy to understand
  5. - No
  6. - No
  7. - No
  8. - No
  9. - No
  10. - Blank
  11. - Blank
  12. - No
  13. - No
  14. - No
  15. - No
  16. - Blank
  17. - Yes, the part when the actors come on the short break on millionaire show, I don't know the point of that
  18. - No!
  19. - No
  20. - No
6) How did being in a mixed sex/single sex (delete as appropriate) make you feel? Would you have preferred working in a mixed sex or single sex group?
  1. - Blank
  2. - You get to see the boys would cope
  3. - Being mixed sex is better I feel as you get to hear men's views which I think is important as most rapists are men
  4. - I do not think it mattered very much
  5. - No
  6. - I don't mind
  7. - Blank
  8. - Blank
  9. - I think it was good to be mixed because we talked about even the boys' view
  10. - It was better being in a mixed group because we got all sides of arguments
  11. - Blank
  12. - Made me feel fine. No I would have not have girls
  13. - It was good working in a mixed sex group as it enabled me to hear opinions of both sexes
  14. - I don't mind
  15. - I would prefer to be in a mixed sex group because it will be more interesting
  16. - Blank
  17. - Mixed sex
  18. - It was fine because the boys are sensible!
  19. - I felt fine about working in a mixed sex group
  20. - It's ok mixed, nothing to hide
  21. - Mixed is better
7) On a scale of 1 - 7 please indicate how effective the workshop was in exploring issues around sexual violence
(Ineffective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Very Effective)
  1. - Blank
  2. - 6
  3. - 5
  4. - 4
  5. - 7
  6. - 5
  7. - Blank
  8. - 3
  9. - 6
  10. - 6
  11. - 6
  12. - 5
  13. - 7
  14. - 4
  15. - 5
  16. - Blank
  17. - 7
  18. - 6
  19. - 5
  20. - 5
  21. - 5
8) On a scale of 1 - 7 how confident did you feel talking about issues surrounding sexual violence before the piece and the workshop?
Not at all confident 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Very Confident

9) On a scale of 1 - 7 how confident might you feel talking about issues surrounding sexual violence after the piece and the workshop?
Not at all confident 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Very Confident
Answers to Questions 8 & 9 - Student Confidence Before Session & Confidence After Session:
  1. Blank Blank
  2. 4 5
  3. 6 6
  4. 5 5
  5. 7 7
  6. 7 6
  7. Blank Blank
  8. 4 3
  9. 6 7
  10. 4 6
  11. 4 7
  12. 3 5
  13. 4 6
  14. 7 7
  15. 7 6
  16. Blank Blank
  17. 5 5
  18. Blank Blank
  19. 7 7
  20. 7 7
  21. 7 7
10) Were there any other issues that you would have liked to explore?
  1. - Blank
  2. - Not really
  3. - Probably the impact of rape on the victims friends and family
  4. - Blank
  5. - No
  6. - Sex diseases
  7. - Blank
  8. - No
  9. - Blank
  10. - Marital and drug rape and the cases if male conviction that were wrong
  11. - Blank
  12. - No
  13. - The issue of 'rape' drug and what a women experiences then
  14. - No
  15. - Media
  16. - Blank
  17. - Blank
  18. - Blank
  19. - No
  20. - Blank
  21. - No
11) Any further comments
  1. - Blank
  2. - No
  3. - Good play, an eye opener, needs more development
  4. - Blank
  5. - Thankful for the actors coming in
  6. - It was good and educational. Thank you for coming to my school.
  7. - Blank
  8. - Blank
  9. - The performance was very good!!!
  10. - Blank
  11. - Blank
  12. - No
  13. - The workshop and performance were very useful and interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed them.
  14. - Thanks for teaching me the ways.
  15. - Blank
  16. - Blank
  17. - Thank you for the production
  18. - Blank
  19. - No
  20. - Blank
If you wish to find out more about this research or discuss it further then please email me.
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