Last week I wrote about the mother, Cathy Swift. Do read more (link to last week’s part 1) about this fascinating woman who was an accomplished business woman, figure skater and now theatre director in the UK. And after speaking with Cathy I discussed the impact her daughter Rachel Swift (Stage name is Rachel Winters) is making on the world through the world of theatre.
STAN: Rachel, I just got done talking to your mother Cathy about her involvement in the theatre. How did you get involved in theatre yourself and was your mother an influence in that?
RACHEL: My mother has definitely had an impact on me being an actress. She took me to my first theatre show when I was about four. It was a staged version of Postman Pat and apparently I watched wide eyed in amazement. Ever since, she has enjoyed taking my sister and me to the theatre on a regular basis. When I was about seven, I joined the local amateur dramatics group and that’s where my love for theatre blossomed. I loved socialising and working with people from different backgrounds and of different ages, and that’s one of the things that I continue to love today when I’m working on a production. As well as the local group, I started to do a lot of school plays when I joined my Upper School at thirteen. I had a wonderful drama teacher and he was a huge inspiration to me. It was when I met him that I realised I wanted to act professionally.
STAN: What have been some of your biggest joys and struggles working in the theatre?
STAN: I understand that you have now started a work called Fair Play (link), which aims to use drama and role play to teach children about human rights, gender equality, anti-bullying etc. Can you tell me more about what triggered your desire to start this group?
STAN: What are some of the activities that Fair Play does to achieve its mission?
RACHEL: I recently did my first set of workshops at a school in Woking (a town just outside London). One exercise that the children responded brilliantly to was a game I call ‘Islands’: You’re shipwrecked on a desert island and you’re the only survivors. Create a freeze frame of you on the boat during the storm. There is plenty of food and water on the island. As a team, you have to create a whole new society. Write 6 human rights for your island. There is another storm and one person is swept away to another island (so one student from each group moves to a different group). Create a short scene where the new member of the island breaks a rule. How do the others deal with it badly? Do the scene again but change it – how do the people on the island deal with the broken rule in a more fair way?
STAN: How can my readers get involved in assisting or supporting Fair Play?
RACHEL: The full launch of my business is due to be in April. So far I’ve been in the testing phase – working closely with a school to gather experience and perfect the workshops. At launch, I’ll only be contacting private schools about my business as I am aware state schools won’t have the budget to fund it. However, as my business is centered around human rights the goal is to offer subsidised workshops to schools who can’t afford it. If you or anyone else you know can help finance this in any way, or help promote by business, that would be really valuable. Here’s a link to my Patreon page. It’s a really inexpensive way to contribute directly to human rights education in the schools that need it most.
STAN: Thank you for sharing about your life and work with me and I wish you the very best of success with your acting career and your new business.
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My other blogs about social issues being addressed through the performing arts:
• “A great diversity experience – Theater Breaking Through Barriers” about enjoying an off-Broadway play in New York City which featured actors with a wide range of disabilities.
• “Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Through Bluegrass Music,” is about an innovative annual concert called “Shout and Shine” of diverse Bluegrass musicians. This celebration came about in 2016 as a direct response to North Carolina’s oppressive HB2 “bathroom bill” discriminating against our LGBT citizens.
• I introduce the Justice Theater Project, a social justice theater company whose mission is to produce compelling theater experiences that create community dialogue and give voice to social concern,s through my blog “The Justice Theater Project – Societal Impact Through the Performing Arts.”
• A follow on blog about the Justice Theater Project’s Play “Bent,” The Justice Theater Project presents “Bent” – a drama about Germany’s Third Reich’s persecution of homosexuals.