Actor and film-maker, Alex Dower, currently understudying Rufus Sewell in Old Times at the Harold Pinter Theatre, is to premiere a short film called The Duel at the London venue on Thursday 28 March at 3pm.
The premiere which is hosted by Alex’s company Creating Freedom and arts organisation CNWL Arts in Health will consist of a screening of the film, a “making of” documentary and a Q&A session.
Written and Directed by Dower, The Duel is set in the Napoleonic Wars and brings us into the world of D'Hubbert; a soldier injured in battle and facing death.
Last summer, Dower was commissioned by CNWL Arts in Health, a service based in community mental health settings led by arts psychotherapists who run projects parallel to mainstream psychiatric services in Brent - to work with a group of people with complex and enduring mental health issues in Epsom.
The participants in the film project are all residents of Horton Rehabilitation Service within Central & North West London (CNWL) NHS Trust; and they play all the main roles in the film.
Alex Dower said, “The idea behind the film was to train a group of residents with complex and enduring mental health issues, together with nursing staff, in the highly effective ‘Science of Acting’ technique, and have them act in a high quality short period drama.
“We spent five weeks training the participants, developing characters and devising the plot with improvisations and then filmed for five days on location around Epsom. The result is an atmospheric and engrossing 10 minute drama with remarkable performances. Filming on location was very beneficial for the participants, as was the experience of working together with others on a creative and positive project.
“The consultants and nursing staff within the service noticed a clear impact on many of the participants' symptoms and behaviours during the project and there was one patient who was able to move out into a community supported accommodation as he made significant progress during and after the project.
“CNWL Arts in Health and I would like to say a huge thank you to ATG and the wonderful team at the Harold Pinter Theatre for their support of this project and their involvement in the premiere,” he added.
Dower has previously worked in prisons in the UK, Russia and the Republic of Ireland; in refugee camps in Lebanon (with the actor David Morrissey's charity CAST); with orphans and disabled children in Moscow, and with blind and disabled people in the UK.
He trained at The Academy of the Science of Acting & Directing (ASAD) and uses the methodology of the Science of Acting to train people in acting and direct them in professional standard productions. The benefits of this work for the participants includes increased self-esteem, awareness and confidence, tolerance of others, discipline and sensitivity. They also develop skills in character analysis, voice and presentation, team-work and anger-management.
CNWL Arts in Health exists to provide opportunities for artistic expression for people being treated by psychiatric services as there are clear links between engagement in the arts and improved health and wellbeing. Their intention is to fuel inclusiveness and motivation both during and subsequent to the participants' treatment.
On the back of numerous positive testimonials from this innovative project, CNWL Arts in Health have commissioned Alex to go back to Horton Rehabilitation Service this summer to work on another film project.