One of our most memorable occasions to happen at Ben's was when we were very brave and decided to take some clients to the Crucible Theatre to see “The Caretaker” by Harold Pinter. None of our team could remember what it was about but as we could get tickets for the dress rehearsal at £1 we felt it was too good an opportunity to miss. So on a cold wet evening we set off not knowing whether any of the clients who said they wanted to go would actually turn up! But they did and we went to take our seats quite nervously as it was an enormous undertaking. Would they sit quietly and listen? Would they enjoy it or find the whole experience too much?
You could not call “The Caretaker” action packed. Throughout the play there are only three actors on the set the whole time and it centres mainly on two brothers and their reaction to one of them taking in a “homeless” man. It was an excellent performance and we slowly started to relax as we realised that the clients seemed to be enjoying themselves. At the interval there were some good comments and so we were encouraged. One admitted that it was his first visit to the theatre. So we all were much more relaxed for the second half! We had bought some sweets along for them to nibble on. Wine gums were the most popular!
At the end one of the clients was so upset that it had finished as he was so enjoying it. We all had different ideas on what was going on in the play and we had such a lively discussion about this for quite awhile.
On the strength of the visit we decided to e-mail the Crucible and pass on our congratulations to the cast. We explained who we were and how special the visit was for us all. The cast replied to our e-mail saying that they would like to come and visit us at the Centre. We were all so excited especially some of our team who found one of the cast, who had been in “Eastenders” very attractive. We kept the Centre open longer so that the cast could come and this in itself was quite a feat!
The cast came and we were all nervous. At the time Sue was playing Scrabble with one client who was refusing her the use of one word and one of the cast stepped in on Sue’s side, so the ice was broken and we all relaxed. We had a good time probably due to one particular client who loved every minute and was doing quite a performance himself!
The cast encouraged us to organise a return visit, which we did with three more clients. This return was not as successful due to one of them being quite intoxicated and it meant poor Wendy and Sue sitting through a very difficult first half! All in all it was such a lovely time and especially when you think that two of the clients that went were rough sleeping it makes the visits amazing. The experience helped to raise our client’s self-esteem and encouraged us all too to continue with trying new life-skills with them.