Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the questions that students have asked over the years:
Which theatre companies and practitioners have influenced Geese?
The early influences included companies such as Living Theatre, the Poor Theatre of Grotowski, Barbar's Odin Teatre and the Environmental Theatre of Schechner. In addition the company draws upon a number of improvisational approaches, including the work of Keith Johnson and Viola Spolin.
Are there any books written about Geese Theatre Company, or chapters in books?
For an in-depth exploration of the company's approach the best source is the Geese Theatre Handbook. In addition there are chapters in Art Approaches to Conflict, Prison Theatre: Perspectives and Practices, An Applied Theatre Reader and Theatre, Education and the Making of Meanings: Art or Instrument? (see Recommended Reading)
Is what you do dramatherapy or psychodrama?
The simple answer to this question is "no". Both dramatherapy and psychodrama are specific psychotherapeutic disciplines that often focus on deep rooted trauma and its relationship to current behaviour. However, drama can be therapeutic, as in fact all arts, education and social interaction can be. The company has endeavoured to generate an approach that can provide the individual with a process that can stimulate both understanding of behaviour and also the potential for change. We have also built our knowledge and understanding of what are appropriate ways of working to ensure a safe process for the individuals we work with.
What is applied theatre and drama?
While it is understandable that people want to categorise our work, we are not certain it has a category other than the broad category of applied theatre and drama - that is, theatre and drama applied to specific audiences and settings with particular outcomes in mind.
What is Geese's theoretical approach?
The work of Geese Theatre Company takes into account such fields as education, criminology, experiential therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. We add to this the wide ranging innovations in the applications of drama made in such fields as improvisational theatre, theatre-in-education, drama-in-education, theatre of the oppressed, dramatherapy and psychodrama. The result is a highly eclectic and holistic approach, blended by our collective experience of what works with offenders and people at risk of offending.
Three key theories the company draws from are:
- Social Learning Theory - (Bandura 1977) - People learn and develop concepts of self and others through their interactions with the world within the the social contexts they live in.
- Cognitive Behavioural Theory - Widely cited as being among the most effective approaches in offending behaviour programmes (McGuire 2000; Vennard et al 1977). CBT provides a framework for understanding the ways in which our fundamental beliefs and attitudes effect our thinking, our feeling and ultimately our behaviour (Beck 1976; Ellis and Grieger 1986; Beck and Freeman 1990.)
- Role Theory - Much of human interaction can be understood by considering the roles and scripts we perform as we go about our daily lives. One of the central observations of role theory is that we are all in some way role players. These roles include the familial roles of fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, siblings. In addition we take on roles as we grow up. The role of offender is acquired, learnt or developed through the experiences life presents to the individual. By becoming aware of the roles we play and our potential to develop new roles, we can move beyond roles that are destructive too ourselves and others
Is it possible to come and do work experience / observe Geese's work?
Geese Theatre Company receives several requests a week from students and other interested parties wishing to observe our work. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the work, the arenas in which the work takes place and the types of client groups we are working with, observation is not a possibility. In order to best accommodate people who are interested in this type of work we run Information Sessions approximately every six to eight weeks.
How do you evaluate your work?
Evaluation varies from project to project. At the end of every piece of work the company undertakes a structured review of our own processes and tries to identify both areas that worked well and areas that could be improved in the future. This is an entirely internal process. In addition, the partnership organisation we have been working with, (prison staff, probation officers, YOT workers, conference organisers etc) are invited to provide written feedback on both the quality and effectiveness of the project and any other areas of relevance. These comments are fed into the overall review of the project.
Any project which involves the direct participation of our core client groups (offenders and young people at risk of offending) is also evaluated by the participants themselves. Geese Theatre has adapted a Self Assessment Checklist originally created by the DfES Offender Learning and Skills Unit for use with both prison and community groups. This checklist asks approximately twenty questions of participants, all concerning their experience of being involved in the project. Participants are asked their opinions about what difference participation has made to their thinking, the way they feel about themselves, what they will take away from the experience, and how they found the style of project delivery. The results of these questionnaires are fed-back to the partner organisation and a record is kept here at Geese.
For staff training events, all participants are asked to complete a feedback form. This form asks questions about the the style, format and content of the training, and asks participants to rate the usefulness of the course. Again, the results are logged and kept by the company.
For some projects, in addition to the evaluation methods above, we will also employ psychologist or utilise psychology departments, in order to undertake pre and post course psychometric testing of participants. This is obviously a more formal approach attempting to analyse the specific impact created by the project. Psychometric testing is usually carried out on some of our longer term projects with violent offenders, such as Violent Illusion or Insult to Injury.