Music and Drama Therapy – Working with Stride Theatre


Communication is one of our most basic human needs – we all want to communicate with other people, to express ourselves and to be listened to in return. It is something that many of us take for granted. One of the challenges that people with disabilities or mental health needs can face is being able to communicate and let out their emotions. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can impact negatively on a person’s quality of life.

Music therapy

At Sun Healthcare we use many different art therapies across all our services, including a music and creative group run by Stride Theatre. Every fortnight, Stride visit Havenfield Lodge in Barnsley, our specialist nursing and residential care home for adults with mental health needs, learning or physical disabilities. They facilitate a group for our clients to use music, dance and movement to convey their feelings in an enjoyable and safe environment.

Rebecca Simpson, Stride Creative Director, says, “We use theatre as a tool to empower people. Whilst we are the ones facilitating the class, it is the participants who drive it and make their own decisions about what they want to do. Our aim is to ensure that everyone has a voice and feels valued.”

Person-centred experiences

Viewing people as individuals with unique abilities, rather than seeing their disabilities, is something that Stride and Sun Healthcare have in common. This becomes apparent when you see one of Stride’s creative sessions at Havenfield Lodge.

Each session begins with a discussion about what people want to do that day – there is always choice and people can request what music they are in the mood for. Rebecca comments, “Often we’re asked to start our session with ‘Music Man’ the Black Lace Classic. People from around the home will hear it and come to join in.

“We love getting to know people, finding out what they like and what they want to do in the sessions. Always popular is singing to classics like Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah’ and anything Elvis. People also enjoy playing tambourines and dancing – there’s normally some leg kicking going on to ‘New York, New York’.

“You really can see the emotion and memories that music evokes – it can be a great outlet for people who might normally struggle to communicate.”

Sun Healthcare’s Got Talent

Participants in our Stride Theatre sessions felt confident enough to perform at our annual talent competition. We had a number of entries, both as individuals and as a newly formed pop group ‘The Queens, Jacks and Chicago Kings’ singing ‘Summer Holiday’. People supported each other to practice their performances, organise costumes and to perform on the night.

Increased confidence and self-esteem are just some of the benefits of creative therapies that our clients are experiencing.

About Stride Theatre

Set up in 2016, Stride Theatre offers people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to be creative and participate in theatrical experiences. The founder of Stride, Rebecca Simpson, was inspired by her twin sister, who has varying learning needs, to set up the company. Rebecca wanted somewhere that her sister could go to express her creativity, whilst feeling safe and having fun.

What’s next

Our group at Havenfield Lodge has, by request of the people taking part, become more music than theatre-based. However, Roger, our manager over at Shaftsbury House, would also like to explore another group that focuses on drama and how theatre can support people to share their life experiences – so watch this space!

How to get involved

Stride Theatre visit Havenfield Lodge every fortnight on a Thursday from 10am to 12 noon – it is open to Sun Healthcare clients across all of our services. If you, or someone you support, would like to join the group just speak to Keith Bush, our manager at Havenfield Lodge.

To express an interest in the new drama group, please get in touch with Roger Stocks at Shaftsbury House.

For more information about Stride, call Rebecca on 01924 806024 or visit the Stride Theatre website.


No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.