Relationships and Sex Education

RAP (Respect and Protect) In a Special School                               

Last term the RAP Project got off to a flying start in a Special School in Somerset with students already revealing some startling talent in the theatre arts.  How does RAP work?

It is all about understanding our social world through the medium of theatre.  We play games together, but we start off with hardly any rules – so the students invent rules to make the games more fun, or safer, or fairer.  Trust is absolutely essential to the way we work, so we explore exercises that require trust.  These can include mirroring exercises, or balancing exercises or blindfold games.  Again, the clients get the final say in how an exercise should be done effectively, or if an exercise is done at all.  Everything is achieved through consensus and, of course, a sense of fun.

Often we look at the kinds of signals people give each other through facial expressions, physical shapes and gestures.  We play with masks and discover how they make us feel and behave.

Scripts are a very important part of the RAP process.  These are short and easy to read, or memorise, or improvise, but the key thing is they illustrate how people can manage their relationships effectively.  Already the clients have shown that they are excellent at reading a scene and developing a version of their own.  Scenes can cover all sorts of issues, such as how people start off a romantic relationship, or agree on what to do or how far they want to go physically.

A unique feature of RAP is that it is co-facilitated by other young people, often aged between 17 and 25. We call them peer facilitators and we are lucky to have three young people from the University of Exeter drama department.  Clients interact socially and creatively with the peer facilitators, building up confidence in their relationship skills as part of the theatre making process.

RAP is generously funded as a pilot project by the Rayne Foundation and the Northbrooke Community Trust with the aim of developing evaluation procedures and writing a practitioners’ manual.   RAP reveals its true value when clients (and peers) begin to show how the understandings, skills and confidence they learn in the theatre process are applied in their daily interactions.

By David Evans Project Coordinator of RAP