Frontline: Theatre Adad

Sarah Speight

What it is: Behind Closed Doors is a Theatre Adad programme of plays and workshops held in schools to address the issue of domestic violence

What it does: Tackles the possible causes of violent or abusive relationships by working with young people

How it's funded: Project costs of about £4,500 per week come from several sources, including the Thames Valley Partnership, local authorities and schools

Young couple Kate and Dan are the central characters in Behind Closed Doors, a play about domestic violence. Dan is aggressive towards Kate and eventually uses physical violence, while the father of Kate's best friend is physically and mentally abusive to her mother.

The play is staged by Theatre Adad, a company specialising in educational theatre performances and workshops, in schools and youth clubs across Hertfordshire, Surrey and Oxfordshire. Theatre Adad was commissioned by the Thames Valley Partnership, a charity that encourages safer communities in the Thames Valley region by supporting a variety of projects.

While other initiatives exist to deal with the consequences of domestic violence, Behind Closed Doors - which the Government says is an example of good educational practice - is a preventative programme. It sets out to tackle the factors that could lead to violent or abusive relationships.

Workshops are held before, during and after the interactive play to examine young people's attitudes.

During the play, the actors move among the audience of 15 to 18 year-olds to ask their opinions of the characters' behaviour and motives. The teenagers are invited to instruct the characters on their behaviour, implement strategies and analyse the consequences in fine detail by re-running scenes.

The group is encouraged to debate such issues as gender, relationships and anger management. The whole process, including performance and workshops, lasts about two hours.

Research suggests that one in three women will have a violent relationship.

Karen Kirkwood, artistic director at Theatre Adad, said: "We are not didactic in our approach - there are a lot of opportunities for young people to talk about themselves, define their own boundaries and recognise what is and is not acceptable."

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