The ‘Puppets Promoting Positive Health - (3PH)' project is an initiative of a primary health care organisation, Northern Metropolitan Community Health Service (NMCHS) which is part of the Department of Human Services. NMCHS's work focuses on addressing the underlying social and structural issues that contribute to community and individual disadvantage. Funding for the project was gained through Health Promotion SA.
The broad aim of the 3PH Project is to provide a sustainable, creative health promotion resource for community members. The puppets and mobile puppet theatre that has been built for the project, is a safe, non-threatening medium through which community members and groups can explore health issues for themselves and their community. The show was performed in English and Vietnamese.
The project aimed for community consultation and participation at every stage. This included consultation around the script and feedback on the first draft, consultation around the type of puppets to be used and how they should look, construction of the puppets and mobile puppet trailer, creative development process, painting and sign writing on the trailer, production of script onto compact disc and rehearsals and performances for the English and Vietnamese shows.
The 3PH Project's premiere show ‘The Tear Jar', written in consultation with community members by Pat Rix, targets Aboriginal and Vietnamese communities in the north and considers how our mental and emotional health can be affected when faced with experiences of loss in our lives. The show promotes positive mental and emotional health through identifying contributing factors of loss and health, exposing their effects and most importantly promoting and giving voice to individual and community strengths.
Lisa Philip-Harbutt was contracted to design the puppets and mobile puppet trailer and to consult with community members around the painting of the trailer. Emma O'Neill of kneeHigh Puppets was contracted to construct the puppets and at this stage free puppet workshops were provided for community members. Emma also was involved in overseeing the construction and painting the set pieces for the mobile puppet theatre.
The construction of the trailer was overseen by Frank Haynes from Para Worklinks as part of the ‘work for the dole' scheme.
A combination of community members and professional artists were contracted for their involvement in the production of the compact disc that was produced by David Erskine of Penguin Studios. This included the two songs found in the script.
The premier show ‘The Tear Jar' was launch during Mental Health Week at the ‘Carnival in the North' in September 2001. The performers of the show were a combination of health workers and community members. A number of English shows followed at other local events and senior high schools. The launch of the Vietnamese show occurred in February 2002 at the Virginian TET Festival.
Evaluation of the project is currently underway and is being completed by the South Australian Community Health Research Unit (SACHRU).
While the project officially concluded in February 2002, the sustainability of it is being felt by NMCHS through the ownership of the mobile puppet trailer and puppets, as well as the skills the organisation has obtained through being part of a major health promotion project involving the arts. The impact of this project has been felt not only by community members but also by the health workers involve by challenging the way we deliver health promotion. Ideas for the future of 3PH is currently being explored by NMCHS and it is hoped that one day community members may be able to have greater ownership of the tool by producing their own show with grant money they have obtained. Stay tuned for further exciting developments of 3PH!
|The Cast Rehearsal Shed. Photo by Lorinda Curnow|