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Arts and Music Therapist
Neuropsychiatry Recovery and Rehabilitation Centres of Racaciuni, Darmanesti, Ungureni and other centres in Bacau County
My name is Vali Racila. I am a musician, psychologist and arts and drama therapist. I studied psychology and my background is in theatre and music.
I work at neuropsychiatry centres (Neuropsychiatric Recovery and Rehabilitation Centres) with people with a range of disabilities and illnesses, varying in severity, in Bacau County, NE Romania. Many of the beneficiaries had been abandoned as children and have since been in institutions all their lives. Over the years of living here, these people become dependent and are thus institutionalized. Social workers who are affiliated to the centres attempt to reconnect the beneficiaries with their families.
I got involved with the centres through the help of Mary Turner (Action Space Mobile, UK) in the early 1990ís when she came to Romania to help and train people use arts in the therapeutic community for people with disabilities.
After finishing the first performance as a guest, I chose to work at CRRN Racaciuni (aka Gasteni) on a regular basis because I was happy with the impact that my work had had on these people. Watching their smiling faces, looking into their happy eyes, just as the premiere was over was like a reward and an encouragement to keep on doing it. I felt myself useful, maybe more useful than being on the stage as a professional actor for 22 years.
After sometime, I was asked to extend my activity in other similar centres like CRRN Darmanesti, CRRPH Ungureni (Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre for Handicapped People), etc. which I gladly did with the kind and generous support coming from RFFR
My role in the centres of Bacau region involves a lot of flexibility and working mainly from my own agenda, according to the needs and possibilities of the groups Iím working with.
My job is to develop individual potential, group co-operation and interaction and self-advocacy for adults with special needs. According to the groupís needs or possibilities, my day of work involves:
- Various activities based on variations of forum theatre method and other drama or music productions which sometimes tours Romania (only CRRN Racaciuni for the moment)
- singing, dancing, arts and puppetry activities
- organise various club-room activities
- centreís radio and video productions with the beneficiaries (only at CRRN Racaciuni for the moment)
- working with the marching band (only at CRRN Racaciuni for the moment)
- support and training of staff and caretakers
- IT training for disabled beneficiaries
My typical day consists of working with the Theatre Gasteni artists on forum theatre, rehearsing music or theatre and drama productions, working with the drum marching band, teaching beneficiaries or other people simple IT skills, but also involving other beneficiaries in singing, dancing, arts and puppetry activities, as well as helping the club-room workers with planning and organising activities, while supporting and providing training for staff and caretakers.
While the original Augusto Boal Forum Theatre method helps people identify, understand and solve problems or even social or political issues, we are using our own adaptations of the method to let people understand, along with educating the public and helping them change their attitude towards people with special needs.
As artistic director of the Theatre Gasteni, my two main aims are self-advocacy and therapy for the people in our care. Theatre, music and arts activities help them become more confident, encouraging everybody to eventually participate at the artistic process. Our methods enable our beneficiaries to develop confidence and to eventually have a voice.
Although his physical condition is sometimes preventing him from achieving the best of his efforts, Adrian Tabol is one of our beneficiaries already trained in simple editing video and audio recordings for burning video CDs, DVD and audio CDs, just to show people who we are and what we do (Theatre Gasteni and the other centres), working with special needs people using various methods (Forum Theatre for example).
I am also helping him discover new things that he could do, like running the centreís radio studio and editing video productions for Theatre Gasteni and sports activities.
I will continue to provide regular, structured and informal support to the very valuable staff working in the centresí clubrooms. While they have benefitted greatly from all the input Mary Turner, Muzika experts and IMPART have given them, they seem to be working with large and difficult groups and they sometimes may need support, ideas, variety and resources.
I continuously work on video editing, drama productions and general support. As a contact person, I unofficially organise the visits of experts, teachers or volunteers coming from UK, Belgium, and Switzerland (ex. Ash Perrin and his Flying Seagull Project, who spent 6 months in Romania visiting Gasteni, Ungureni, Vermesti, Norocelul, Casa Albert, etc)