Willpower project is a powerful message

Amnesty International production by Willpower
Amnesty International production by Willpower
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A PRODUCTION by a Wigan drama school has been nationally commended by Amnesty International.

The Wigan and Leigh Amnesty Group have been trying to engage with the community to raise awareness of human rights issues in an accessible and stimulating format.

After consideration of several ideas, members suggested a theatre production based on human rights themes for the annual Wigan Words Literary Festival and they worked together with Willpower Youth Theatre, a not-for-profit enterprise, run by theatre professionals.

And such was the success and inspirational nature of the production, Amnesty International recently incorporated details in their Group News which is circulated nationally.

Alan Small, of the Wigan and Leigh Amnesty Group, said: “The result was powerful, provocative and moving drama, a real testimony to the enthusiasm, commitment and political awareness of the students.

“Amnesty members found this a very rewarding way of involving young people in human rights issues and presenting conflicts to an audience.”

The process of producing a series of human rights-inspired scenes began with a visit to Willpower by members of Amnesty.

About 30 young people attended a presentation, which included an introduction to the work of AI, with examples of current concerns in Burma and Palestine, and the provision of magazines and other literature.

The students then identified those aspects of the Human Rights Charter which they felt were particularly suited to being dramatised.

They were keen to use novel ways of approaching the subject matter as a means of both grabbing an audience’s attention and “getting vital points across”.

Some chose comedy as a filter for their ideas and others went for intense and sometimes harrowing depictions of human injustice in many forms.

Associated with the festival, the young writers were able to make use of the advice given by a local dramatist – Julie McKiernan – who read their scripts and suggested any ways in which the scenes could be improved.

The various sketches were cast using members of the youth theatre and the scripts then went into rehearsal.