"Vanishing No. 7" Revisited! - a retrospective blog of The Next Step's next step;

This has been a very exciting few months for us at The Next Step Drop In Theatre Workshop in Pontypridd.

We started on our Nights Out project, supported by TEAM, back in January.

The idea was to promote our Theatre Workshops and the work of The Next Step Drop In as a centre for information and support for people with issues around substance misuse. We aimed to do this by raising awareness with a theatre event, whilst giving our service users and volunteers a chance to develop skills and learn about creating, organising and promoting such an event.

It was a great success in many ways.

With the support of TEAM we had three writing workshops with Bevin Magama to develop a piece of theatre from ideas and experiences supplied by the service users. It was magic to see these ideas spring out of seemingly nowhere and into a coherent order. To begin with we had a vague agreement that we all liked Agatha Christie, and this developed in to a spoof detective story about the "disappearance" of the No.7 Drop In Centre and the whereabouts of The Next Step; in reality, the No.7 drop in had closed down and been reopened next door, at No.8 Gelliwasted Rd. ,as The Next Step, but few people in the area knew this. Along with some silly humour we included more serious moments with contributions from service users' stories of recovery and their involvement in the services offered. Bevin gently guided all this into some sort of structure, facilitated the telling of personal stories and wrote it down for us. It was great fun collaborating on the title and structure of the piece, and also quite moving and therapeutic for those involved in relating personal journeys through recovery.

The next step was a series of weekly workshops with our lovely director Anna Poole. We finally had a short, funny, and moving piece to perform before the main production, "Two Punks And A Tandem" by Silly Boys theatre company, at our Nights Out event on !3th March at the YMCA in Pontypridd. We also had a performance from local singer Ragsy on the night.

The evening event was very enjoyable and, most importantly, built up confidence and self esteem amongst all the participants who helped put it together.

The local Deputy Mayor attended and was suitably impressed.

In fact, it went down so well that we were asked to do our piece again for the next Drugaid Development Day which took place earlier this week on Tuesday 28th April.

This was a bit daunting as we were now expected to perform in front of around a hundred Drugaid workers and volunteers at a conference setting, in Margam Park, without our delightful Anna Poole and her technical support, some missing props and a recent change of cast. It took some "re-jiggling", but, I'm relieved to say, it all went very well indeed. The audience laughed and cried appropriately and the feedback has been great.

I feel very reassured that people found it genuinely funny in places and particularly moving and inspiring when service users told their stories.

It also helped greatly to publicise the activities and supportive atmosphere of The Next Step Drop In centre.

So, many thanks to all our participants and to TEAM for making it all possible. We look forward hopefully to more new faces in the Theatre Workshop now that the word is spreading.

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Comment by Bevin Magama on May 1, 2015 at 23:59

Imagine walking along a street, Geliwasted road, trying to find No.7. You can see No. 6 and you can also see No.8. You look on the other side of the road, there is no No.7.  

An elderly man hobbling on a walking stick passes by.Deep inside yourself, you dig for the strength to ask any passerby.

"Excuse me, Sir. Do you know where I can find No.7?".....................

Anna, it was a pleasure to work with you and the team at The Next Step. It's a pity I was not there to see the final performance as I had been abroad. I am so glad it went well and I am waiting to hear the echoes of The Next Step.

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