Picnic People: Theatre and Wellbeing

Kindred Minds in Hamlet Asylum Seeker

Photo: Performers from Kindred Minds in the research and development presentation of Hamlet Asylum Seeker, May 2014 (Photograph by David Churchill)

Since January, BandBazi has been running an Adult Drama Group promoting mental health and wellbeing in those aged 18+, supported by Brighton & Hove City Council and Arts Council England.

Participants come from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences.  Some have never done drama before whilst others have had more formal training, either in BandBazi’s Youth Circus Theatre or at Northbrook College.

We have been looking at Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ and it has been amazing to see the resonances the piece has made with the people in the group.  One woman, when she read his famous monologue that starts “What a piece of work is a man...” for the first time gasped “he knew how I feel: when you can see that the world is beautiful but you can’t enjoy it because you’re feeling so low.”

Another woman talks about how for her this is the highlight of her week.  “It’s not therapy, but it’s all part of the process of moving those blockages within me.”

It has been a joy to see the group understanding the Shakespeare and overcoming often long held resistance to it, either from their experiences in the British education system or because English is a second language and it has never been made accessible to them.

We have also had a lot of fun performing bits of the play in different theatrical styles.  Everything from Bollywood to Eastenders!

On 8th and 13th December, the group will be working with playwright, John Binnie, on his new play, ‘Hamlet Asylum Seeker.‘  When we tour this play in 2016, The Picnic People will be working as a Chorus of Actors alongside the professional actors in front of a paying audience. The photograph above is of performers from Kindred Minds; a group we worked with in the recent research and development phase of the Hamlet Asylum Seeker project. The group worked alongside professional actors in a performance to invited guests on 1st May 2014.

It’s the laughing, socialising, and creating that makes this project rewarding for participants and facilitators alike.

We have recently recieved further funding from the Big Lottery Fund to develop this group further. We are open to new participants who are welcome to attend on their own or with a key worker. Please contact hannah@bandbazi.co.uk for more information or call 01273 245584.

We meet on Mondays from 5.30-7.30pm at Smile2Live who have very generously offered us free workshop space.  We have funding from Awards 4 All so it is free to attend, tea, coffee and biscuits are provided and travel can be paid on submission of receipts.

Philippa Vafadari
Artistic Director



Email: mail@bandbazi.co.uk

Company number: 4271844 

Charity number: 1091276