Acting for the Future uses participative drama workshops together with a professional theatre performance and an excellent support structure to promote positive mental health, suicide prevention and challenge stigma around mental health. The project is run in association with the Samaritans and the Irish Association of Suicidology, with assistance from a panel of advisors. Acting for the Future comprises three main elements: the drama workshop, the performance of Testimonies and a support structure. A school or community organisation can avail of the workshop or performance or both. Young people develop a stronger awareness of the issues through a quality arts experience.

Each workshop offers an introduction to issues around positive mental health and suicide prevention, looking at some common myths and facts about suicide, exploring life stresses and positive coping mechanisms and signs for suicidal intent and how to take action. The subjects are explored through active participation in theatre exercises and improvisations. A trained drama facilitator delivers the workshops working in partnerships with a qualified counsellor who is also in attendance. In addition to the workshop conducted by Smashing Times, follow-up workshops are available from the Irish Association of Suicidology and the Samaritans.

The performance of Testimonies in schools consists of two monologues adapted from the experiences of those who have lost loved ones to suicide and from the experiences of those who have been through a suicidal crisis and survived. The performances run for forty minutes with each performance followed by a post-show discussion with a counsellor and invited guest speakers from the Samaritans. Young people are invited to discuss the issues raised by the performances.

In keeping with best practice, a support structure is in place for the drama workshops and performances. A representative from Smashing Times meets with the school prior to the workshop taking place to discuss elements of the project and related resource material.

An information pack including an information leaflet on positive mental health and suicide prevention is distributed at each workshop and this includes a list of support agencies. The pack for the schools also contains resource material for follow up work in the classroom and a workshop evaluation form to be completed and returned to Smashing Times. We also aim to have workshop in schools linked to the SPHE programme.

The project was developed and continues to be supported by a panel of advisors consisting of four qualified personnel in the area of suicide prevention and counselling. The panel members are Dr John Connolly, Irish Association of Suicidology, Dr Ella Arensman, Researcher, National Suicide Research Foundation, Ms Eileen Foley, Samaritans, and Karen Ward, Holistic Psychotherapist and Mary Moynihan and Freda Manweiler from Smashing Times Theatre Company.

For further information contact Freda Manweiler by phoning 01-8656613 or e-mailing



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