“Mary Carr has been particularly effective when working with Special Educational Needs pupils and those with behavioural problems. She has an excellent manner with this group of children and has developed a first class rapport with them”
Mr T Moore, Headteacher, St Mary’s RC High School Chesterfield.
From 1975 I have been involved professionally with disabilities young people and adults. The workshops have followed a pattern of performances and drama/creative writing workshops based on those performances.
Set out below are some of the venues where I worked on a regular basis since the year 2000
Special Schools visited:
Ashgate Croft School, Chesterfield.
Northcott Special School, Hull.
Oak Tree Special School, Pontefract.
Park Special School, Wakefield.
The Pines Special School, Birmingham.
Stubbin Wood Special School, Derbyshire.
Trentham Special Needs College, Lincolnshire.
September to October 2004
Worked on a weekly basis for five weeks giving performances and related drama and creative writing workshops in a learning support unit in a comprehensive school in Doncaster.
August 2001, 2002, 2003
Sheffield Summer Schools for pupils, years 6/7 with low literacy skills and subsequent lack of confidence and low morale.
Drama and creative writing workshops based on a preceding performance enhanced these skills giving the young people a new found confidence.
Weekly dance/drama workshops for young adults with disabilities.
A boy who is seriously neglected at home.The day on which I taught him was his birthday and yet he had received no presents or cards. According to his teacher he never laughed or played and did not even show any behavioural problems. He was present at the Cyclops workshop and took a full apart. He joined in with his group in both discussion and work.The teacher was so excited about this that she took photographs of him doing this to show other members of staff.
A boy who was very introverted, and hardly ever spoke to anybody did a most beautiful piece of written work, although in his final draft the writing was very small indeed, it really was not readable. I said to him (not knowing his problems of being withdrawn ) “Thomas, I am sure this is an excellent piece of work but in order to read this it really needs a bit bigger writing.” The size he then produced, although tiny, was the biggest he had hitherto achieved.
The boy who said in class discussion, ‘Miss, why have we who are not very clever and cannot do anything, been chosen by our teacher for this project?’ This was difficult to answer tactfully but did lead into a discussion on the important values of life being not academic or worldly achievement.The other pupils joined in and although the teacher was not present I was impressed by the frankness of the discussion.
St Dunstan’s charitable organisation is for servicemen blinded in action and is based in various cities but it was the Brighton branch who contacted me.
Learning of my workshops from the internet, negotiations took place for me to work with a small group. It was arranged that eight men from different parts of the UK should come to Sheffield where there was a St. Dunstan’s residency, for two weeks Monday to Friday and I would work with them at a local hotel.
The starting point for the production was a memory from their childhood or youth to be developed into one story. There was an audience of about thirty people and they sat in a circle. The men were strategically placed round the outside of the circle and spoke the play in that way.
The audience were blindfolded so that the men did not feel they were being ‘watched’ and so the audience could appreciate the atmosphere the men created by their rather moving play.
It worked well and was appreciated by both audience and actors.
“It was a great time in our lives and none of us will ever forget working with Mary.”
Billy Baxter, participant and famous blind motor cyclist.
A group of people from a day centre for disabilities had been coming to weekly drama workshops for three years. In January 1995 we embarked on a performance based on the characters of Commedia D’Ell Arte, the original strolling players who performed in-depth improvised plays. It was hugely successful.
The group developed their own story and their timing was perfect, always difficult where there is any comedy (not to be confused with pantomime or burlesque).
No mainstream person took part.
“I didn’t know people with disabilities could do anything like that. I was most impressed”
Sixth form girl at Staveley Netherthorpe School Staveley Chesterfield.
The third was with a group of disabilities people both learning and physical whom I had taught drama on a weekly basis for three years.
Without the use of the written word (in fact few could read) they gave, as a public performance to an audience of over 100 people, scenes from the life of Christ. This of course was in-depth improvisation which they were used to doing and must have been the way the medieval people worked with the Mystery Plays which were only at a much later date written down as a record for posterity.
The scenes were linked with a group of mainstream musicians playing and singing appropriate medieval music.
Needless to say everyone could be heard and concentration was absolute; no-one looked at members of the audience during the performance.
“A terrific performance, never seen anything like it from such a group. Unbelievable. Very emotional at times. Well done all of you. Congratulations.”
Tony Balding Head of Adult Education Chesterfield.
My work was prolific and it would be impossible to list all the schools and workshops.
To give some idea I set out below the work delivered in a typical year from January 2006 – May 2007
The number of venues visited was 131
The number of workshops delivered was 157
The number of performances given was 264
This included in total 33 nurseries and preschool groups with two performances and two workshops in each. Of these, 19 were engagements from the NCH Wheatley children’s centre, Doncaster. Project manager Mr John Bailey.
Ashton-under- Lyme, Bawtry, Bedford, Belfast, Birmingham, Buxton, Chesterfield, Derby and Derbyshire, Doncaster, Dronfield, Dinting, Durham, Erith (East London), Grantham, Gainsborough, Grimsby, Harrogate, Hull, Ilkeston, Isle of Wight, Leicester and Leicestershire, Liverpool, Manchester, Oakham, Rainhill, Ripley, Rotherham, Sheffield, Solihull.
Some Comments from children and staff about workshops delivered.
“The workshop was equally as successful. One child commented,”I liked her because she let us have a go.” Throughout the visit Mary was extremely professional and organised. Her control of the children was excellent – calm, yet firm.”
Veronica Anderson, Arts and Design coordinator, Godshill Primary School, Ventnor, Isle of Wight.
“As a former teacher Mary Carr is well used to dealing with youngsters and was quickly able to gain their attention and keep it.”
Miss G Johnson, Head of Classics, High Storrs School, Sheffield.
“The day ended with the children creating simple Monster poems, all of which Mary performed and shared with the class. The children worked enthusiastically and were thrilled when their poem was read out with such expression. They were keen to develop their poetry and story-writing for several days after her visit and to find out more about Greek myths and legends. We are really looking forward to her next visit.”
Sue Beavers, Year 3 teacher, Hillsborough Primary School, Sheffield.
“Mary Carr worked in our school for eight years. She exhibited tremendous energy and commitment in working with groups of young people. We at St Mary’s feel very privileged to have had her working at school.”
Mr T. Moore, Headteacher, St Mary’s High School, Chesterfield.
“It was clear that in the short space of time during the session you connected with and empowered the young mums”
Mandy Hatton Buddy reading co-ordinator, Read on -Write Away Derby
I was a Youth Theatre Director of four youth theatre groups — some running concurrently.
All groups performed in public, plays developed through improvisation which were thoroughly professional polished performances.
Typical comments about these plays:
“Many aspects of the performance were worthy of note but I was particularly impressed with the confidence of the youngsters, their sense of style and projection, the clarity of their voices, particularly their singing and the slick way in which the continuity between scenes was managed. The lighting/stage-management team deserve praise also; their timing was faultless.”
Angela Forrest, Community Tutor the Manor School, Chesterfield
“Thank you for an excellent show! I appreciate all the work and all your efforts–It was exciting, moving and very powerful.To involve so many kids in such an intense and rewarding way is lovely to see! Congratulations!”
( a play involving 55 children who rehearsed for six weeks most lunch times at school. The play was well researched about World War 2 and included scenes in German. Performed in a studio setting)
Jacquelyn Williams Head of English St. Mary’s High School Chesterfield
“Thanks for such an outstanding performance of ‘Demeter’s Daughter’. I sat back in amazement when I saw the quality and effort being delivered by so many pupils of such differing levels of ability”.
John Doyle, Deputy Head Teacher, St. Mary’s High School Chesterfield.
From 1981-1984 weekly workshops to adults in educational centres in confidence building and public speaking.
“Mary developed my skills so that I was able with confidence to give presentations at work, which directly led to my promotion.”
Dave Tattersall, participant adult public speaking group.
“I had to give a report to a meeting of 100 people and was terrified. Mary helped me relax and give my very best. I was congratulated afterwards!”
Joanne Webster, participant adult public speaking group.
“I was shy and nervous at meeting and talking to people. Mary worked hard with me and now I can join in with conversations.”
Elsie, participant, adult public speaking group.