2022, it’s been a strange year. In some ways it’s been a fairly quiet one, with our usual workshops still occurring, while working on a new piece to take around places. However in many other ways this has also been the biggest year for May Contain Nuts ever.
This year May Contain Nuts turned 10 years old, if you had asked us all the way back in 2012 if we would still be here now I’m sure the answer would have been hopefully. Along the way we have had some big milestones, winning 2 national awards and being nominated for a third award, successfully completing an application for funding and being able to use that money to participate in workshops to help us create a piece specifically to take into schools.
So what’s happened in 2022. Well we had our usual workshops with the Queen Mary University of London and the University of Hertfordshire, both of which generally leave us feeling hopeful for the future of mental health services based on the levels of engagement and questions that come from the students in both groups.
We also returned to the University of Hertfordshire to help with some scenario training with the student mental health nurses. This proved to be a very interesting time on behalf of the company and very enlightening on behalf of the students in how to deal with potential clients in a controlled but real time setting. 2023 will see us return for even more sessions that will also be longer to allow more time to discuss the scenarios with the students.
As usual we were working on our new piece, which we began all the way back in 2020. The unfortunate appearance of Covid-19 has allowed us to explore and play with this particular piece in a way we never have before. This has resulted in our longest run time which will allow us to either perform in 2 acts or all together depending on the venue and in some cases the audience – don’t worry that is the extent of audience participation.
This piece more than ever explores the intricacies of relationships between characters while create a dynamic storyline that has intrigued those who have managed to see a run through of bits and pieces we have been working on at the time. While we unfortunately still don’t have a name for the piece, I can reveal that we do have a final scene and we are hoping to have a family and friends performance sometime in early 2023 perhaps in April time.
This leads me to our final piece of news and possibly our biggest project to date. In September this year, Gerald and Jocelyn attended an event held at Watford Palace Theatre called Community, Creativity, Wellbeing – Locally. This event was co-hosted by Katie Flatts Projects and Watford Palace Theatre with the aim of bringing together dance, music and theatre practitioners, health sector representatives and cultural providers in order to network, share information and work towards furthering the integration of the arts within the existing mental health and wellbeing services.
During this event, we made contact with Jo, a manager at the Watford branch of the Herts Mind Network and discussed the possibility of collaborating to start a drama group that would be run at the Mind centre in St Albans Road, Watford. With Jo taking on the job of finding funding, we waited patiently for any news, including discussing how the group would run and most importantly where. From our side of things it was very important to emphasise that this would not be a drama therapy group and rather a place where people could come after discharge from HPFT, focusing on drama games, creating sculpts and reading and acting through scenes from plays. If the group feels comfortable with it, maybe even performing small scenes for friends and family. It was agreed that the group would be made with a mix of people recently discharged from NHS services and those already using Mind services. The group would be facilitated by a drama therapist or drama practitioner and a member of the company itself.
At the end of October/beginning of November time we got word that the funding had been approved and plans were quickly agreed for a pilot year to begin in February 2023. The first 6 months will run from the Watford Mind centre and then a group will then run for 6 months in Ware at a Mind centre there. Our hope is that after this pilot year we will be able to continue this project and possibly be able to open more groups in other places across Hertfordshire.
We ended our year by giving a workshop to staff at the St Albans Road Mind centre, which allowed them to experience the kind of things we would be doing in the group and allow them to ask any questions in order to help them to determine how the group would work and see if they would have any people in mind to ask if they would consider joining for this trial period.
As we say goodbye to 2022, with all the quiet but big things we have been working on and look towards 2023 with the first few months looking to be our busiest yet, I think it’s safe to say we are excited, nervous, but ultimately hopeful that we can, in some way help more people to look at drama as a way to further understand and inform how mental health is viewed and in the case of the Mind group collaboration, give those who may otherwise be struggling with their own mental health to have a couple of hours a week where they can get out of the house and come to a safe place where they can be with others without feeling like they have to talk about how they are feeling or coping, which is how we at May Contain Nuts felt all that time ago in 2012.
All the best for 2023 and we look forward to showing you what we have been working on