Dzifa Benson

Writer | Producer | Performance Maker

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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. Her education work makes use of creative writing, theatre, performance and collaborative practices in participatory, community and social contexts.

 
Between EU and Me, Ark Elvin Academy 2014 - Working with young people from 3 schools in London in collaboration with young people in European schools, Dzifa led workshops investigating and celebrating citizenship, identity and multilingualism. The project brought young people into the debate around Europe and returned to prominence the issue of freedom of expression for people of all backgrounds in the UK and Europe. The project also involved activists, journalists, politicians and experts in various fields talking to the young people.

Between EU and Me, Ark Elvin Academy 2014 - Working with young people from 3 schools in London in collaboration with young people in European schools, Dzifa led workshops investigating and celebrating citizenship, identity and multilingualism. The project brought young people into the debate around Europe and returned to prominence the issue of freedom of expression for people of all backgrounds in the UK and Europe. The project also involved activists, journalists, politicians and experts in various fields talking to the young people.

Symposium Week at Rose Bruford College, 2013 - Dzifa was invited to be a member of the panel discussing the future of feminist performance for students and staff members.

Symposium Week at Rose Bruford College, 2013 - Dzifa was invited to be a member of the panel discussing the future of feminist performance for students and staff members.


The Spit of Me workshops in conjuction with Apples & Snakes and Tilt, part of Dzifa's The Spit of Me transmedia project inspired by DNA, 2013 The Spit of Me (Constructed Identities) - This workshop used tropes from popular culture such as The Matrix, Terminator, Gattaca and transhumanism, to consider what your genetic heritage didn’t give you. What aspects of your physiognomy, personality traits or emotions would you edit out of your genetic make-up? What would you edit in? What if Google existed in your brain? What if, like bats, you could use echolocation to navigate? Dramatically improve your ability to see in the dark like a cat? What if you could modify your body for artistic and practical purposes as easily as downloading an app? The Spit of Me (Who's Your Daddy) - This workshop explores the biological reasons behind why families look both so similar and so different, encouraging quirky writing around the subject of DNA and identity. When you look at yourself in the mirror and see the likeness of your parents’ features, how does that make you feel? Is the nose that you inherited from your father too broad? Have you inherited your mother’s temper? Or your grandfather’s complexion? The Spit of Me (Home is Where My 5th Cousin Lives) - Home. Where is it? How do you define it? Is it to be found in our DNA as well as a geographic location? A geographic location can be identified by culture, religion, food etc. and knowing where or what we call home carries the implication that we know who we are. But do we really know who we are or where we feel at ‘home’? Can our genetic heritage tell us anything significant about this? This workshop considers all the factors that contribute to the notion of home – the personal, the cultural, the migratory AND the science – to inform identity.

The Spit of Me workshops in conjuction with Apples & Snakes and Tilt, part of Dzifa's The Spit of Me transmedia project inspired by DNA, 2013

The Spit of Me (Constructed Identities) - This workshop used tropes from popular culture such as The Matrix, Terminator, Gattaca and transhumanism, to consider what your genetic heritage didn’t give you. What aspects of your physiognomy, personality traits or emotions would you edit out of your genetic make-up? What would you edit in? What if Google existed in your brain? What if, like bats, you could use echolocation to navigate? Dramatically improve your ability to see in the dark like a cat? What if you could modify your body for artistic and practical purposes as easily as downloading an app?

The Spit of Me (Who's Your Daddy) - This workshop explores the biological reasons behind why families look both so similar and so different, encouraging quirky writing around the subject of DNA and identity. When you look at yourself in the mirror and see the likeness of your parents’ features, how does that make you feel? Is the nose that you inherited from your father too broad? Have you inherited your mother’s temper? Or your grandfather’s complexion?

The Spit of Me (Home is Where My 5th Cousin Lives) - Home. Where is it? How do you define it? Is it to be found in our DNA as well as a geographic location? A geographic location can be identified by culture, religion, food etc. and knowing where or what we call home carries the implication that we know who we are. But do we really know who we are or where we feel at ‘home’? Can our genetic heritage tell us anything significant about this? This workshop considers all the factors that contribute to the notion of home – the personal, the cultural, the migratory AND the science – to inform identity.


The Harrodian School, 2013 - Dzifa was invited as a special guest performer and facilitator, presenting to students, teachers and parents in the first annual showcase of creative writing

The Harrodian School, 2013 - Dzifa was invited as a special guest performer and facilitator, presenting to students, teachers and parents in the first annual showcase of creative writing

Being a Writer, University of East London, 2013 - Dzifa was a guest lecturer invited to work with level 5 students in a lecture aimed at enabling them to understand the realities of living and working as a writer.

Being a Writer, University of East London, 2013 - Dzifa was a guest lecturer invited to work with level 5 students in a lecture aimed at enabling them to understand the realities of living and working as a writer.


Beyond Booked Up, The Book Trust, 2013 - Dzifa was invited to contribute poetry and a filmed performance to this nationwide initiative aimed at inspiring a love of reading in Year 7 and 8 students through engagement with high quality writing across a range of formats including poetry.

Beyond Booked Up, The Book Trust, 2013 - Dzifa was invited to contribute poetry and a filmed performance to this nationwide initiative aimed at inspiring a love of reading in Year 7 and 8 students through engagement with high quality writing across a range of formats including poetry.


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.

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.

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.

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.


Literature Audience Development Seminar, British Council, 2013 - Dzifa was invited as a guest speaker with poet Simon Barraclough to lead a workshop during a week long conference of international delegates exploring how practitioners have curated events that cross art forms and reach a wide and varied audience.  

Literature Audience Development Seminar, British Council, 2013 - Dzifa was invited as a guest speaker with poet Simon Barraclough to lead a workshop during a week long conference of international delegates exploring how practitioners have curated events that cross art forms and reach a wide and varied audience.
 

Poetry Workshop, Mental Health Awareness Week, Brunel University, 2013 - Dzifa ran a series of workshops to provide students of all levels with creative tools based around the exploration of identity and self-expression as a way to combat mental ill health.

Poetry Workshop, Mental Health Awareness Week, Brunel University, 2013 - Dzifa ran a series of workshops to provide students of all levels with creative tools based around the exploration of identity and self-expression as a way to combat mental ill health.


Able Writers, Authors Abroad, 2012 to 2015 - Working with education agency Authors Abroad, Dzifa travelled throughout England to work with primary and secondary school children.

Able Writers, Authors Abroad, 2012 to 2015 - Working with education agency Authors Abroad, Dzifa travelled throughout England to work with primary and secondary school children.

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.

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.


Impossible Possibilities, Create KX, British Library, 2009 - Dzifa ran a series of masterclasses to provide participants with practical tools, using creative writing and performance techniques, to increase their confidence and presentation skills to aid employability. Create KX supported people working in a variety of creative and cultural businesses based in Kings Cross to broker new partnerships in the private, public and voluntary sectors.  

Impossible Possibilities, Create KX, British Library, 2009 - Dzifa ran a series of masterclasses to provide participants with practical tools, using creative writing and performance techniques, to increase their confidence and presentation skills to aid employability. Create KX supported people working in a variety of creative and cultural businesses based in Kings Cross to broker new partnerships in the private, public and voluntary sectors.

 

Camberwell, Chelsea & Wimbledon Research Student Exchange at Chelsea College of Art &    Design, 2007 - Dzifa was a guest speaker on a series of seminars for Level 7 and 8 students focusing on hybrid practice and responsibility. She performed and discussed the themes for a number of her poems and chaired a Q&A session.    

Camberwell, Chelsea & Wimbledon Research Student Exchange at Chelsea College of Art &    Design, 2007 - Dzifa was a guest speaker on a series of seminars for Level 7 and 8 students focusing on hybrid practice and responsibility. She performed and discussed the themes for a number of her poems and chaired a Q&A session.

 

 


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.

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.

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'.

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'.



“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

 

Dear Dzifa,
My son truly enjoyed his opportunity to spend time with you at Bournes Green school in Southend on Tuesday.  Unfortunately he wasn't confident enough to read his poem out but I so wanted to share it with you.  I know I have a biased opinion as his mum but this reduced me to tears.  I have a heart felt passion and love for poetry and have read to and encouraged Caden to read himself since he first landed into this world.  He is rarely found without a book in his hand and is currently writing short book reviews for Waterstones in the City.  Caden hasn't stopped talking about his day with you.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your time and commitment to visiting schools and sharing your learned insight and passion with children.
All the very best wishes,
Sally Harrison