Dear Friends of the Misfits,
The Misfits are celebrating not one, not two, but three big achievements this week!
1. We finished our Fundraising Challenge and counted up the grand total raised...£1793! We all had such an amazing time, and met lots of people who had never seen the Misfits perform before. We think that seeing actors with learning difficulties perform in public changes peoples perceptions of us and shows that we are important to the community. We had lots of chances to do this during the Challenge and would like to thank everyone for being great audiences. Thank you to all those who supported us by making a donation and helped us to raise nearly £2000 towards our target. We will be using the money to help us bring different artists to work with our regular groups and individual members who want to to develop their professional skills. Look out for the results over the next few months!
2. Misfits actors Greg, Paul, Maude, Penny, Bill and Marsail went to London last week with everyone else from the All the Kings Fool's project to collect the prestigious Museums and Heritage Award for Best Educational Initiative! You can find out more about the awards by clicking on the link here. All the Kings Fools took place at Hampton Court Palace in partnership with Peet Cooper from Foolscap Productions and Dr Suzannah Lipscomb of the University of East Anglia. Read more about All the Kings Fools here.
3. We are very pleased to announce that The Misfits have been shortlisted for an Arts and Health South West Award this year! You can find out more about the Awards and other shortlisted projects and individuals by clicking on the link here. There are three awards with prizes awarded by sponsor Sibyl Fine King. We've made the Art Award shortlist for all our work with Bristol NHS Primary Care Trust educating health professionals about what it is like to live with a learning difficulty. Earlier in the year we worked with them to make a DVD about Domestic Abuse for other people with learning difficulties and we regularly perform original plays about health issues at events and training sessions for professionals. People with learning difficulties are 6 times more likely to suffer from physical and mental health problems than the general population so the work we do with the NHS is very important. We help doctors and other health workers to communicate better with people with learning difficulties and to see how some health issues affect us more than others. Debbie, Beth, Bill and Beccy will be going to the Awards ceremony at the M Shed on Wednesday 27th June to find out if we have won! There is some very stiff competition so please wish us luck!
As well as all that lovely good news, you might like to know what has been going on in our regular groups and other projects.
Our regular activities provide a very important space for people with learning difficulties to be creative, have fun, make friends, and tell their stories through drama, spoken and written word, movement, dance and more.
Tony Holdom leads the training group, our Company of paid actors, who meet on a Monday to devise original issue-based performances. The group members are Penny, Debbie Curwen, Bill Loveridge, Paul Prangley, Greg Tibbatts, Beth Richards and Michael Johnson. In the last three months they have performed to trainee Doctors at the University of Bristol, sexual health professionals at The Bridge, health professionals at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and are working on a project with the South West Strategic Health Authority. All this and the Fundraising Challenge too!
Jules Allan and Debbie Curwen lead our Academy on a Wednesday. We have 10 regular members aged 18-35. They have been working on creating a book of their favourite drama games using photos and giving instructions on how to play. Keep your eyes on this site for news on how to get a copy soon. They are also devising a new performance entitled "Mr Eccentric's Mystery Shop", which sounds very mysterious! Again, more news coming soon about that.
Jules has also been working with some of the Academy members to create performances about sexual health called "Misfits Guide to Love". They performed these two weeks ago for the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Sexual Health Services Updating Day (what a mouthful!) and really enjoyed it. Read more about this by clicking on the link above.
Anita MacCallum and Tony Holdom lead our Thursday group, which has 20 regular members aged roughly 35+. The group performed their beautiful and moving Heart to Heart performance twice in March and April and got lovely feedback from the audience. At the first performance, the audience were so appreciative they got on stage and joined the Misfits to share what was in their hearts too! The poetry the group have been working on around the theme of 'love' helped to inspire the Heart Flash Mob performance as part of the Fundraising Challenge. Now the Thursday group are working towards a public performance of their poetry, more news coming soon. Poetry and words have become more and more important in the Thursday group sessions and have added a lot to their performances.
Eve Houston works as Project Manager for our Creative Development Project Inspire Us. You can read more about the very exciting screening of the Misfits first animation at Aardman Studios in the Inspire Us blog, here. Eve is supported by project volunteer and Misfits Director Maude Winkler-Reid.
Debbie Worrall has been working for us for around 18 months to develop our Equalities training package. She has worked closely with Misfits Director Jane Trathen to research the Equalities Act, develop a presentation and deliver pilot sessions of the training, which got very good feedback. Debbie and Jane also created the training for artists who want to work with people with learning difficulties which ran very successfully on 26th April. Next year we hope to secure funding for Debbie and Jane to recruit and train a new group of adults with learning difficulties to work as trainers and deliver workshops alongside our paid actors.
We'll be updating our website in the near future with photos and profiles of our Directors, actors and the rest of the core team behind all this work. If you would like to know more about any of us, and the work that goes on behind the scenes in the meantime, please get in touch.
Finally, a big thank you to students from Bath Spa University who came to Hamilton House two weeks ago to run two free drama sessions for people with learning difficulties. The newsletter photo this week comes from those workshops! Everyone really enjoyed the workshops, met some new faces, and had fun. And hello to those of you who have just joined the Friends of the Misfits!
Bye for now!