‘Control Freak’ is an interactive theatre incursion program for young people and secondary students from Years 9-12 exploring coercive control and controlling behaviours in relationships. The session commences with a live performance of a short play which elucidates how coercive control can manifest in relationships and the potential consequences of small-scale controlling behaviours. The second half of the session sees young audiences engage in discussions and role plays about some of the underlying factors that can permit these controlling behaviours to occur in relationships in the first place and how as young people they can all be upstanders, taking responsibility for calling into question some of these assumptions, attitudes and behaviours within their own communities.
The sessions are all safely facilitated by our highly experienced and trained Youth Choices performance team. The program gets young people examining how gender roles and expectations can affect attitudes and behaviours within relationships and empowers them to develop an awareness of how they can contribute towards building a more equitable community which supports healthy relationships.
Synopsis: It starts out with small things, like checking her text messages and suggesting she change the clothes she’s wearing before they go out. However, she soon finds herself with more than just an overly loving, passionate boyfriend – she finds herself trapped in an abusive relationship. This four-actor theatre workshop for Years 9 to 12 uses playbacks and student on-stage participation to revisit actions and their consequences in order to identify and address issues of controlling behaviours, domestic violence and the underlying contributors of gender inequity in relationships.
Running Time: 90 minutes including student interactive participation.
Audience size: Maximum 60 young people
The program also includes a Teacher Resource pack, with pre and post in-class activities for students and young people to prepare and reinforce learning outcomes of the incursion session.
In light of the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 restrictions in different locations, this performance incursion program can also be delivered to smaller groups or remotely via a live streaming platform (Zoom, Teams etc.). All Youth Choices team members are fully vaccinated.
The premise of the interactive performance was developed during a collaborative theatre project with a group of young people at a secondary school in Joondalup in 2015. In 2016, that scenario was used as a starting point for a professional writing process. An experienced playwright worked with a Script Reference Committee comprising practitioners and researchers working in the FDV sector, including counsellors from the Patricia Giles Centre and the Family and Domestic Violence Unit of the WA Police Force. The Script Reference Committee provided insights during the initial development phase and oversight and feedback on script drafts. They also attended several pilot performances to see how the session would run.
The facilitators and performance team who deliver the Control Freak program are well trained in exploring these issues with young people. They attend regular training sessions by practitioners in the field of FDV (including from Stopping Family Violence and the WAPol FDV Unit) as well as Mental Health First Aid and follow our rigorous Dealing with Disclosures Policy. This consistent training and support ensures that the facilitation team are able to safely and confidently facilitate these potentially challenging conversations with young people.
Since 2016, the Control Freak program has been delivered at numerous schools and youth centres throughout Perth with consistently positive feedback from participating teachers.
The Control Freak program is one of the most popular and impactful of our Youth Choices performance incursions – with consistent bookings at schools throughout WA.
Teacher feedback is consistently positive and we have also delivered these sessions for youth centres and out of school contexts including for adult audiences at conferences.
Staff turnover is an ongoing challenge. We have a pool of 8-10 performers in our team at any one time. The theatre/performance industry is notably itinerant, and even though we manage to maintain team members for an average of 3 years, this doesn’t feel long enough considering the investment we put into training and development. Ensuring that each new team member who joins our ensemble of performers (who also perform a number of other shows in our repertoire) are sufficiently trained, prepared and confident in delivering this material is a constant challenge. Consequently, we must commit significant resources to ongoing training and professional development. At times there may only be a handful of team members who are sufficiently confident in facilitating this program, which can be difficult in terms of managing bookings for this highly sought after program.
The development of theatrical or filmed scenario-based educational programs requires an understanding of and expertise in script development, production, coordination and direction of artistic processes, artists, performers and potentially film makers. Allow yourselves the time and resources required, and if in doubt, hire a consultant with experience and expertise in producing theatre or film, to offer support and guidance. Good productions of this nature do take time and money.