Dzifa Benson

Writer, Producer, Performance Maker

 

Learning & Participation

Dzifa devises and facilitates bespoke creative projects and education initiatives with a strong focus on Applied Theatre and participation. Working with adults in higher education, community organisations and creative businesses and with children and young people in primary and secondary schools Dzifa creates workshops, masterclasses, lectures and seminars for a wide range of clients such as Southbank Centre, The Royal Geographical Society, The British Library, Westminster Arts, University of East London and Chelsea College of Art & Design.

While Dzifa is happy to run one-off workshops, she prefers to create longer term projects that make use of writing, theatre, performance and collaborative practices in participatory, community and social contexts.

 


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Crossing Continents: Connecting Communties, The Royal Geographical Society 2007

Using the Society's archives and working with the Friends of Masai community group, Dzifa devised a series of workshops to uncover hidden histories through the creative responses of the participants who ranged in age from 8 years old to adults. She developed and delivered workshops using poetry, song writing, prose and reportage to reveal themes of identity, ownership and migration. This work contributed to the exhibition 'Bombay Africans'.

 


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Poetry Hopscotch, Imagine Festival, Southbank Centre 2008

Drawing on her own artistic practice Dzifa, in collaboration with poet and photographer Naomi Woddis, took 50 children through a session of Poetry Hopscotch, an interactive and literature performance culminating in participants writing spontaneous and free-styled poems in chalk on a giant hopscotch in the square behind The Royal Festival Hall.


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Pocketful of Magic, Westminster Arts Westminster Council, 2009


This year long participatory arts project, based on the fairy tale template, incorporated creative writing, poetry, photography, movement and dance as well as visits to unusual theatre spaces such as Peter Pan in Hyde Park and musuems such as The Wallace Collection. Collaborating with a photographer and a choreographer Dzifa drew out personal portraits of 7 residents of Dora House, a sheltered accommodation in St Johns Wood, London. She devised and delivered weekly workshops to provoke discussion, interaction, memories and inspiration. Dzifa created and wrote 7 brand new fairy tales based on each of the participants' childhood experiences, memories and cultural backgrounds. The stories were published in an anthology also called A Pocketful of Magic. The project culminated in a performance and film Westiminster Town Hall attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster.


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Make My Day, English PEN and Tricycle Theatre, 2013

Working with refugee young people newly arrived in the country and speaking very little English, Dzifa ran weekly workshops consisting of poetry, storytelling, role-play and performance. The project finished with an anthology of stories and a performance at the Tricycle Theatre.


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Chislet Church of England Primary School, Kent

Since 2008, Dzifa has worked with agencies like Apples & Snakes, Creative Partnerships and directly with individual schools to encourage children to gain more confidence speaking, listening, reading and writing. Workshops have included storytelling, song writing, fiction and creative non-fiction. She has collaborated with scientists, graffiti artists filmmakers, musicians, composers and sculptors to deliver bespoke and innovative creative projects in hundreds of schools across the country.


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Tales from the Towpath, The Floating Classroom, Regents Canal, 2012

In this after school literacy project, Dzifa worked with Years 3 and 4 of Edward Wilson, Paddington Gree and St James & St Michael Primary Schools. Using the canal and its environs to devise and deliver poetry, storytelling, creative non-fiction, reportage and performance workshops to help children from refugee families talk, listen, read and write with more confidence.



“Year 3 had an amazing day with Dzifa and have written some beautiful poems. Dzifa was incredibly personable and instantly built a good rapport with the children. She was able to draw out detail from the children and praised their efforts well, enabling them to produce poems of good quality. We were blown away with what the children managed to produce in such a short space of time. Thank you again for a wonderful experience.”     

Springwell Junior School

 

Thank you Authors Abroad for organising the two workshops – they were indeed fantastic!!! In particular, Dzifa Benson, who really got the pupils from both schools working, learning and performing together. It was really upbeat and animated. The standard of poetry written was excellent!

  Jane Stonebridge, Year 5 teacher, North Ealing Primary School