Mickey B tours the US

A Kirsten Kearney J November 4, 2013
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Mickey B is touring the US!!
Here’s the schedule:

November 13 – Keynote Speaker and screening of Mickey B at Hope College, Holland, Michigan

November 14 – Visit Shakespeare Behind Bars programme in Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Complex, Muskegon Heights, Michigan

November 14 – Keynote Speaker at Physicians Dinner Holland, Michigan

November 15-16 – Keynote Speaker and screening of Mickey B at Prison Arts Practitioner Conference at University of Notre Dame South Bend, Indiana – more info

November 19 – Keynote Speaker and screening of Mickey B at Emory University Atlanta, Georgia

November 20 – Visit classes at Emory University Atlanta, Georgia

November 21 – Keynote Speaker and screening of Mickey B at Oxford College, Oxford, Georgia

November 22 – Visit Lee Arrendale State Prison Alto, Georgia

November 23 – Visit Shakespeare Behind Bars program at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex LaGrange, Kentucky

November 25-26 – Keynote Speaker and screening of Mickey B at Oakland University Oakland, Michigan


Screenings This Week!!

A Kirsten Kearney J October 9, 2013
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ESC is proud to present the four upcoming film screenings:

Belfast Re-Connects

Belfast Re-Connects is a ground-breaking 10-week course, that resulted in an exciting series of short films made by young people from NIAMH (Northern Ireland Association for Mental health). ESC has worked for the past four months with the Belfast Connects group of young people from NIAMH’s Beacon and Aspen centres. These young people, aged between 18-30, have lived experience of mental health issues. These films address the realities of dealing with mental health conditions in modern day Belfast. Generously funded by Belfast City Council’s Arts and Heritage project grant.

There will be 3 short films and a behind the scenes documentary.

When                      12:30 on 10-10-2013
Where                    Black Box, 18-22 Hill St. Belfast, County Antrim BT1 2LA
Event on FB          https://www.facebook.com/events/435287516576075/

Second Chance for Change (Belfast)

Premiere of ESC’s Second Chance for Change films made with forensic mental health patients at Holywell hospital. There will be a post screening Q&A with the makers and participants. This screening celebrates the conclusion of three years of groundbreaking storytelling and film work. Service users at Holywell hospital, who are in the overlap between criminal justice and mental health, committed to telling their traumatic stories on film. Through this creative process they found catharsis and healing.

The films are incredible and the work has been transformative. Come and share in their journey of discovery. It’s free, donations are welcome on the day.

When                      13:30 on 10-10-2013
Where                    Black Box, 18-22 Hill St. Belfast, County Antrim BT1 2LA
Event on FB          https://www.facebook.com/events/163463983843404/?fref=ts

NI – Mental Health Arts & Film Festival Film Night

This exciting evening of local film–making brings together people with experience of mental health issues with film–makers, passionate about helping people to tell their stories. The films challenge stigma, question the realities of living with mental illness and question what society can do to help. There will be a post–screening discussion of issues raised in the films.

When                      19:30-21:30 on 10-10-2013
Where                    Studio Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, BT27 4RL
Event on FB          https://www.facebook.com/events/456058851177868/

Second Chance for Change (Derry/Londonderry) 11-10-2013

Screening of ESC’s Second Chance for Change films made with forensic mental health patients at Holywell hospital. There will be a post screening Q&A with the makers and participants. This screening celebrates the conclusion of three years of groundbreaking storytelling and film work. Service users at Holywell hospital, who are in the overlap between criminal justice and mental health, committed to telling their traumatic stories on film. Through this creative process they found catharsis and healing.

The films are incredible and the work has been transformative. Come and share in their journey of discovery. It’s free, donations are welcome on the day.

When                      13:00-15:00 on 11-10-2013
Where                    Playhouse, 5-7 Artillery St  Derry/Londonderry, BT48 6RG
Event on FB          https://www.facebook.com/events/659920017373851/

All four of the screenings are part of a bigger event going on, called the Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts & Film Festival spearheaded by ESC. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland that does not yet have a specific festival devoted to mental health and the arts. To remedy this, a steering group with a wide range of individuals and organisations from the arts sector, the mental health sector, faith and church groups have been meeting over the past year. The group is diverse, cross-community, cross-sectoral and provides a really exciting opportunity for people from very different backgrounds and opinions to work together in creating something nationwide from scratch. For more information on the above events, see our festival website http://www.nimhaff.org

Written by Alex Adriana.

Mickey B in Marseilles!

A Kirsten Kearney J July 31, 2013
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Director Tom Magill and CEO Kirsten Kearney took ESC’s award-winning film Mickey B to the Borders Inside / Outside conference on artistic creation in Europe with offenders and prisoners in Marseilles, France in June of this year. ESC were the only representatives from Northern Ireland presenting at the conference and were able to showcase the powerful work that has been done within the NI prison system.

The conference put the issue of artistic creation with offenders and prisoners, at the heart of society, and focused on a dialogue between the “inside” and the “outside”. It focused on the different experiences of shared creations made by the European partners (Italy, Spain, Norway, Germany, Slovakia and France) of the project BORDERS inside/outside from 2009, who were working for the implementation of a dialogue between art, prison and society.

The BORDERS inside/outside project was part of the “Marseille-Provence 2013, European capital of culture” programme.

ESC spearheads NI’s first Mental Health Arts & Film Festival

A Kirsten Kearney J March 28, 2013
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ESC is to the fore in new developments in mental health in NI – NI’s first Mental Health Arts & Film Festival can happen, if you get involved!

Check out the FB page, like it and come to the first meeting on Tuesday 23rd April at 11am at QUB. There’s no commitment, we’re just trying to see who is out there and who would like to get involved. Here’s the official invite…

Dear all, you are most welcome to come along to the first meeting of the organising committee for a Mental health film festival in Northern Ireland. (did you know that NI is the only part of the UK and Ireland that doesn’t yet have one?)

The meeting will be chaired by Kirsten Kearney from ESC and will be in the meeting room in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s on Tuesday 23rd April at 11am.

For people who haven’t been here before it’s the terrace of houses across the car park at the back of the main Queen’s building (the new library is along the other side of the car park) and the entrance is at the library end of the terrace.

If you are able to attend and are driving, you can send Gavin Davidson (Lecturer in Sociology at QUB) your car registration number and he can request a parking permit for you for the big car park beside the School. (email below)

This is the first meeting and attending doesn’t commit you to anything but please do come if you are interested. Please also spread the word. The more the merrier!

RSVP either on Facebook or email to Gavin Davidson, Lecturer in Sociology, g.davidson@qub.ac.uk

NEW! – Crime & Punishment Course at Helping Hands

A Kirsten Kearney J March 25, 2013
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In ESC we believe in thinking our ways round a problem until we come up with solutions. One lady helping us to do that is Karen Tilson, who is volunteering to run a new course in our Helping Hands centre.

10 weekly sessions on Wednesdays 17.30 pm to 19.30 pm, starting Wed 17th April.

This course will examine Old Bailey records to show how crime and punishment has changed over time. We will look at the historical, political and religious influences on how crime was dealt with. We will assess forms of punishment – transportation, death penalty, workhouse, ASBOS, restorative justice.

And we will ask questions such as: Should life imprisonment mean life? What is the purpose of prison – punishment or rehabilitation? Does prison work?

Email us at info@esc-film.com to book your place.

Here’s what Karen has to say:

I have worked in the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service for over 20 years. I have always been an avid reader of crime novels and have always been interested in crime dramas and real life crime stories. I left school with O Levels. A Levels were a disaster! Once I started work I continued studying at night classes and gained 2 A Levels and some additional secretarial qualifications. I then completed a degree in Law/Social Sciences with the Open University. As part of my studies I undertook a module on Criminology and this sparked my interest in the subject. It combines aspects of law and examines why people commit crime from a sociological perspective and this really fascinates me. For various reasons, including economic ones, I decided against training to be a solicitor. I felt that this was not the way I should go. I did not think this would be satisfying career path for me. Instead I continued studying with the Open University and gained an MA in Social Policy and Criminology. For some time now I have been looking at ways of getting involved in working with offenders.

For health reasons I had a 2 year break from NICTS and whilst temping I had the opportunity to complete a Certificate in Adult Learner Support and for a while I volunteered in an Adult literacy class. During this time I also became involved in leading a youth group and I discovered a love of teaching and a passion for helping others. Teaching as a career path was something I had always avoided as there are lots of teachers in my family. I had always said I wanted to do something different but perhaps teaching is in my genes.

I have an interest in rehabilitation of offenders and in the connection between literacy and offending/re-offending. I firmly believe that education is one of the key factors in reducing re-offending. My other areas of interest are in restorative justice and in how crime is reported by the media.

My motivation for wanting to work this area is that I have a strong sense of wanting to make a difference in the lives of people who come in contact with the criminal justice system. I feel that when sentences are handed down there is a general belief among the wider public that justice has been seen to be done and this is all that is required. However, I do not agree with this notion. There must be more to it than that. There are of course no simple solutions to the issues in society but we cannot allow people to come out of prison the same way they went in otherwise there is a likelihood that they will just end up re-offending.

I hope that by looking at the issues surrounding crime and punishment that students will gain a better understanding of the historical influences on crime and be able to critically assess the purpose of prison and other forms of punishment.



Culture NI website showcase Healing Trauma through Film

A Kirsten Kearney J March 11, 2013
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skainos screening imageIt’s tomorrow! Our screening at Skainos, Lower Newtownards Road kicks off at 12.30pm. Leading arts and culture website CultureNorthernIreland interviewed Tom Magill and Kirsten Kearney in advance of the screening to find out what it’s all about. If you still want to come, let us know asap on Facebook, 02890243338 or info@esc-film.com.

Read all about it here.

Risking Radical Redemption – a Soul Surmise by Steve Stockman

A Kirsten Kearney J February 18, 2013
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Fitzroy image jpgPeople who know me know that one of my life quotes is Frederick Buechner’s line that vocation is where our deepest gladness meets the world’s deepest need. Tonight in Fitzroy we were privileged ton welcome a man who lives that to the full. Tom Magill is the brains, and soul, behind the Educational Shakespeare Company. Tom is a lover of story and making films. Instead of using this passion to make himself famous and rich he decided that he wanted to use it to transform lives. Then again, Tom didn’t choose just any life to transform. He decided that the deepest need was to go for the prisoner with mental health issues that the system had labeled hopeless. By helping these deeply troubled human beings to tell their stories ESC has helped them find a second chance and real transformation. It was hard tonight not to be moved, challenged and inspired by what ESC does.

Tom Magill himself knows about transformation. Leaving school with no qualifications he ended up in prison but, while dreaming up a way to take out the IRA prisoner in the cell next to him,w he found his humanity. The prisoner was Frank Stagg who died on Hunger Strike in Wakefield Prison Ian 1975. Stagg encouraged Magill to take his life in another direction and having found John Steinbeck’s book The Grapes Of Wrath in the prison library Tom read it and tonight shared how through that book he discovered his humanity. He eventually went back to education and gained O levels, A levels and a degree.

Having worked as an actor he was encouraged to think about directing and returning to Northern Ireland, having left there as a child, he started putting his deepest gladness to the country’s deepest needs. His belief in the power of telling your story has led him to using short film as a way for some of the most disturbed prisoners in our jails to find their humanity, as Tom did. Not that he has stopped at short films. He also directed Mickey B, a version of Macbeth, in Maghaberry Prison. Using a cast of actual prisoners was brave, challenging and surely fulfilling. Tonight I asked Tom how those prisoners felt when that movie was completed. Tom shared how the first viewing was with the prisoners and their families and how there were many tears in the room as these guys, who had been labeled by society and even the prison system as scum, saw themselves as actors. There again in this story is the restoration of humanity. Magill’s philosophy is a simple one; if you treat people with humanity and dignity they will change.

As we watched a couple of short films and a documentary about the work of ESC we as a Church, beside Queens University, just off the bustling Botanic Avenue, all having driven from our fine BT addresses, were challenged to think about how some of our fellow human beings are living just a few miles away. We were led into lives that could be called outcasts. It is a very short step in our minds, sitting in Church pews, to link them with the lepers and outcasts of the New Testament. It was with such people that Jesus hung out and then asked us to follow him towards. How far we are from where Jesus was rang loud in my ears.

It was then a real inspiration to interview Tom, Kirsten Kearney, ESC’s Chief Executive, and Ruth Gray, a board member, about how they have found themselves moving among those people whom Jesus loved and still does. There was no over spiritualising of what they do. These guys are doing it because of the deep need they see. They are doing it because they believe it to be right. Their faith underlies it all, though their language is never over pious. When I asked about the finishing of Mickey B Tom called it a miracle. These guys are about very ordinary ways to bring about very extraordinary things. As an evening in Fitzroy it was far from as explicit as a Church Service should be but redemption and grace, which is what we are supposed to be all about, was more implicit than most of the sermons I have ever preached. We left inspired, praying that God would lead us into the week, seeking where our deepest gladness could meet the world’s deepest needs.

See this is situ on Steve’s blog here where you can reblog, respond etc.

Risking Radical Redemption – this Sunday

A Kirsten Kearney J February 11, 2013
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ESC is partnering with Fitzroy Presbyterian Church this Sunday to present a challenging film screening of our Second Chance for Change films. 7pm at Fitzroy on University Street, Belfast.

ESC and the Community Forensic Mental Health Team from the Northern Trust worked with a group of men with a history of serious mental health problems and offending behaviour at Holywell Hospital in Antrim. ESC gave the group the chance to look honestly at their own lives and experiences and to tell the stories they wanted to tell in the way they wanted to tell them. Each of them struggles with the labels that they carry and the experiences that have shaped them. The films that resulted and the accompanying documentary are being used in film screenings to raise awareness of mental health issues and the recovery that is possible through creative interventions.

These films are stark, graphic and include moments of questioning, moments of breakthrough and moments of stasis. They reflect where the participants are at this stage in their journey. This project aims to help each person move further along in their own journey towards recovery.

Tom Magill, Artistic Director of ESC and Kirsten Kearney CEO of ESC will be speaking, along with Ruth Gray, ESC board member. There will be an opportunity to discuss, ask questions and hopefully meet some of the participants.

You can get a flavour of the films here.

ESC in line with new Arts in Health Strategy

A Kirsten Kearney J January 16, 2013
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Health Minister Edwin Poots today launched the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust Arts in Health Strategy, ‘Unfolding Arts in Health 2013 – 2015.’ (Jan 2012)

The strategy, developed by the Belfast Trust and Arts Care, is strongly aligned to the strategic objectives of Transforming Your Care in its support for the care of patients and in enhancing community wellbeing through prevention and health promotion, through access to the arts.

Speaking at the launch in Belfast’s Crescent Arts Centre, Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “Making a difference to the lives of all in our society, remains a firm priority for me and the launch of this strategy is another step towards this goal.

“The Arts in Health Strategy in partnership with Arts Care NI has been developed involving staff, patients and artists- in- residence. It promotes engagement through creative arts in a range of settings, such as patients with mental illness, learning difficulties, chronic brain injury and also with older people.

“It can be used to improve communication, reduce stress and provide more stimulating environments for patients and staff alike. It is also known to have health benefits; for example; reducing the need for medication and having fewer health complications.”

The Minister continued: “There is a growing body of evidence of the value of the arts in health and social care and having access to a variety of arts programmes within these settings can be a welcome distraction for all. It can raise morale, provide an element of normality in an unfamiliar setting, and aid the recovery process. And most importantly, it complements the excellent work of our healthcare staff.”

ESC firmly believes that using creativity within the healthcare setting has deep and lasting benefits.