Our Project - Behind the Label
Behind the Label (BTL) is an Applied Theatre project created in partnership with the Wales Millennium Centre and The Wallich. The ground-breaking project worked with a group of people with two things in common – they had all experienced homelessness and suffered severe loss of self esteem.
Some were battling alcoholism and drug addiction, whilst others had suffered domestic and/or sexual abuse. Others had mental health issues, some had learning difficulties.
All had been 'labelled' in some form or another and felt that nobody saw or cared about who they truly were.
BTL’s goal was to empower them to tell their stories and show the person behind the label.
BTL offered two pathways.
In Pathway 1 participants completed an 18-week internship exploring what goes into the staging and presentation of theatre, from ushering to marketing, light design to set build.
In Pathway 2 participants learned about Applied Theatre and creating, devising and acting.
Both pathways culminated in a full scale production entitled 'Behind the Label', where participants explore their own stories.
"In a performance that is funny, entertaining, and simultaneously heart breaking, what stands out is the courage of all participants to take ownership of their stories and speak out on their terms."
My Story - Benson
In 1995, Benson's village was attacked by rebels who were slaughtering rival tribes and warring with the Congolese army. Separated from his parents and siblings, he risked his life to escape, finally arriving in Kyangwali refugee camp in 1997.
Everything he’d come through led him to aspire to a better future not just for himself but the refugee community around him.
He survived many bouts of malaria and near-starvation, and throughout he studied and achieved qualifications. He firmly believed that education was the route to freedom and a better future.
"It is is a tale of strength and endurance beyond what I believed possible; yet the strength and endurance were never mine. It is a story of faith and trust even when it seems all hope is gone; it is a story of love though it is not a love story."Benson Wereje
Benson talked often of the pain he felt on witnessing such great sadness in his life. He never speaks in a piteous or dramatic way. He has a look that to an outsider may seem blank but when you know him you see it is a look of knowing and understanding of pain beyond words, beyond all comprehension. It knows no words, no comforting expression. It is a sharing of a love that is so profound it brings a sorrowful aching to your heart. He tells me that this is learning to cry with no sound; learning to cry with no tears.’Jennifer Hartley, Director