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Spotlight on Freelancers: Wabriya King - Dramatherapist

Spotlight on Freelancers is our interview series dedicated to highlighting the incredible range of jobs that exist in the arts. After several years of working as an actress, Wabriya King retrained as a Dramatherapist at Roehampton University and has since worked on shows at Soho Theatre and Bush Theatre as well as our production of 846 Live. You can read more interviews in the Spotlight on Freelancers series here.

What is a Dramatherapist?
A question I’m frequently asked! No dramatherapist is the same (thankfully), which for me makes this a complex answer to articulate. But I’d say, we are therapists who can use a variety of artistic and creative tools to support and explore possibly challenging thoughts, feelings and experiences alongside the clients we work with. For further definitions, you can check out the British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth) and NHS websites.

You've worked on several productions as a Dramatherapist, including our production of 846 Live. What does this role involve?
How I work alongside a project in rehearsal differs accordingly. I take my lead from what is in the space and the themes of the piece, which tend to trickle into the dynamic of the cast and creative team.

What actors have to take themselves through both physically and emotionally takes its toll, I see my role as to be alongside them and acknowledge and nourish their mental wellbeing in relation to the piece, so to aid safe honouring of their character's journey, without giving or losing too much of themselves in the process.

What are the routes into Dramatherapy?
I attended Roehampton University, at the time of applying I also looked at the course at Central, but felt Roehampton was better suited for me. There are lots of other UK-based training institutions listed on the BADth website.

How can people get into Dramatherapy?
I trained with people from various educational and professional backgrounds, so I’d advise anyone interested to do some research, and see how they feel.

What do you think makes a good Dramatherapist?
I’m not sure… 'good' is such an interesting word/notion. What I will say is, as a dramatherapist, I’m constantly doing my work to remain curiously active in my listening and feeling senses to hopefully sweep away the possible cobwebs of complacency or assumption.

Who or what inspires you?
Humans! We’re incredibly fascinating creatures.

Today is World Mental Health Day and 2020 has been quite a year. What advice would you give to people to help them reflect on their mental health or well-being?
It really has been quite a year! I think lockdown gave a lot of people no choice but to slow down. I’d encourage a little preservation of that found space for oneself as the social pace quickens.

What do you think are some of the biggest myths about therapy?
I think the awareness and embracing of mental health is increasing, and with it some of the myths are falling away or morphing. Therapy is for anyone should they want it.

In relation to mental health, what changes would you like to see in the arts?
A greater care and awareness for what the actors/actresses go through to honour each role, and making space for that in the rehearsal process. It’s starting to happen.

It’s also currently Black History Month. BHM means different things for different people, what does it mean for you?
I’ve never been a fan to be honest. I’m aware it has its benefits, but I feel that “non white” history should be inclusive in everyday culture. I suppose (much like International Women’s Day) until this is the case it’ll have to remain.

Wabriya recommends:
TV Show:
Michaela Coel's I May Destroy You
Book: Biased by Dr Jennifer Eberhardt
Album: Anything composed or performed by Alexis Ffrench​


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