Working with People (1988)


To encourage participation throughout all aspects of the Company's work.


In public: Apart from performing in public, much of the Company's work was created in public through residenciess where people could watch rehearsals and see the performance being created.

With the public: The company ran a large number of workshops, linked to residencies or touring performances, and working with a broad range of people. Company members had particular experience working with people with physical and learning disabilities.

For the public: What you might call audience development these days: performing in public spaces; encouraging people to attend through outreach work; and seeking to make people feel included eg having after-show audience discussions.

A workshop in Aberdeen with a group of people with disabilities. Photograph Mike Davidson


The development of our participatory programme was only possible by developing strong relationships with schools, disability services, community groups...And that meant starting to think about how we adapted the work for particular situations and what the work actually achieved for the people we were working with.

In many ways it was the participatory programme which really started developing our ideas of partnership working; creating a relationship between two organisations from different backgounds where both sides would achieve some of their core aims.

It produced astounding results with everyone, including the adults. It is with great enthusiasm that we plan to carry on and develop the work that you introduced to us.

Geoff Brown

Merefield Special School, Stockport

What We Learned

  • Working in formal settings, our work was most effective when we worked closely with the staff (the teachers, care staff etc.) Then the work we initiaited could continue once we had moved on. To achieve that, we needed to plan together with our educational partners and design a project with continuing pathways.
  • That we enjoyed doing educational work but it was good to keep a balance of working with others and doing our own creative work (our selfish time!)
  • We also enjoyed working with a wide range of people with different backgrounds and abilities; our work could be adapted and be of interest to all

Where Next?

This participatory work was to become the basis of all of Heads Together's work in the 90s and beyond...

Leaflet from one of our extended training courses for other professional performers