Last month we profiled the amazing singer/songwriter Emily Watts. This month we caught up with Rachael Hammond who is a professional storyteller and facilitator working in inclusive theatre.
While studying film and theatre at The University of Derby Rachel did some volunteering at Inspiration Theatre in Thanet which gave her experience in Applied Theatre (theatre practices designed to provoke or shape social change). Rachel found she had a real affinity with this approach, and, with some help and encouragement from one of her lecturers, at the young age of 22 founded her own theatre company. After having some amazing experiences touring the world, Rachael returned to her roots in the South of England and began working in London. It was here that she realised her natural gift for storytelling and how her real passion was for using theatre and stories to create change and ask questions. Rachael started researching stories and folktales that she could use in a creative and interactive way. She also began writing her own stories which audiences were able to engage with using improvisation as a starting point.
Learning from the past
Rachael’s been working with Bright Shadow since 2020. More recently she has delivered sessions for MACA who are a Kent-based charity who promote an awareness of African and Caribbean cultures through arts and education. Although using Zoom meant having to take a slightly different approach, Rachael’s sessions were really well-received and the participants all felt inspired to create music, poetry and stories together. Using her Ghanain heritage as inspiration, Rachael introduced ideas to the group such as Adinkra symbols which are visual representations of proverbs or philosophies. One symbol that has particular resonance for Rachael is ‘Sankofa’ meaning ‘learn from the past’ or ‘take only the good from looking back’.
The group that attended the sessions thoroughly enjoyed the Imaginary Art sessions and threw themselves into the bi-weekly sessions, whether by pretending they were going for Tea at the Ritz, or travelling to America and so much moreMACA staff
Rachael’s approach to working with people living with dementia is multilayered. She’ll often give a visual stimulus and then the group will build a story together. She also tries to get participants to use their sensory imaginations as well asking questions about taste and smell in order to really think creatively. In all her sessions there are always lots of jokes and laughing. Which is how we like it here at Bright Shadow!
So what’s coming up next? Like so many performers, work has been on hold through the pandemic but, with things slowly beginning to open up again she’s looking forward to the future and being able to start an exciting new project. Later on this year she will be a resident artist with the renowned children’s theatre Polka to celebrate the opening of their new building. Rachael will be using British Sign Language to create a new piece for deaf and hard of hearing children. We wish her all the best with this and hope she will return to Bright Shadow in the future to weave more of her storytelling magic!