Somebody’s Daughter Theatre
Since 1980, Somebody’s Daughter Theatre (SDT) has been delivering arts programs in women’s prisons, youth training institutions, and the wider community. SDT programs focus on personal and social transformation. They aim to help individuals caught in cycles of abuse, poverty and despair to create new lives for themselves – lives that have choice and meaning.
Twelve years ago, SDT began to work with a group of disconnected youth in and around Albury/Wodonga. Aged between 12 and 16, all had histories of abuse and self-destructive behaviour. They were rarely able to live with their parents, and were unable or unwilling to attend mainstream school. Many were at risk of entering the criminal justice system.
HighWater Theatre is a highly successful creative, arts-led project that evolved to engage these young people. Many participants are now working and studying, no longer trapped in lives of violence and hopelessness.
‘Projecting a Future – Minefields’ Program
HighWater Theatre uses drama and arts to connect marginalised young people to a way of expressing themselves that doesn’t involve violence and alienation. The theatre’s programs give them a voice through acting, singing, movement, media and teamwork. HighWater also encourages the young people to take up one-to-one studies in English, maths, legal studies and more, with a view to re-entering formal schooling.
Working with a company of artists, Somebody’s Daughter Theatre supports and teaches these young people by picking them up for school and taking them home every weekday. STD also provides daily nutritious meals, tutors them in Theatre Arts and Media, and organises the provision of teachers and health and welfare services.
With funding from Gandel Philanthropy, HighWater Theatre was able to expand its programs to include digital media production. The program helps young people gain transferable skills as they find new ways to communicate with their peers and communities.
HighWater students have the opportunity to be directly involved in producing digital education packages, short films and documentaries. Other opportunities to develop new skills and self-expression include scriptwriting, production-coordination, camera operation, sound recording and digital editing.
“HighWater has changed my way of life. I’ve gained confidence to get out of the house and perform on stage and even communicate with complete strangers. Now I can independently go out and talk to people.”
Kiaran, member of HighWater Theatre program
An important aspect of the program is that it complements the ‘Mindfields Project’, which is currently working with young people with mental health issues in the Hume Region. Using their newly acquired media technology skills, HighWater students are making documentaries and electronic resources to inform and prepare young people who may face similar situations. Their productions will also serve as positive resources for the wider community.