Thursday, 29 July 2010

An Inspector Calls: Act For A Cause

People will know that whilst I can be a fiery character at times, I have a huge heart... that sounds so big headed but it is true... well most of the time anyway. So today's blog gives you a little insight into one of my little projects called "Act For A Cause" which is affiliated to the drama society of which I am part - The Black Fox Theatre Society.

I thought up the principal of "Act For A Cause" a long time before I had any idea what I was going to do performance wise. The concept is that acting should be able to benefit others, not only through entertainment value, but also as a platform to raise awareness and funds for needed causes. When you think about it, there is a huge opportunity to convey a message to an audience be it through the play itself, the production's programme or a short announcement at the end of a show. The audience is right in front of you and attentive, you don't need to work for their attention... you already have it... its the perfect opportunity to get people involved with your cause.

I gave the concept some thought, and I really felt that it needed a personal touch to it. I have the feeling that when you support a large charity, though you know they do good work, you are not really sure how your money is being spent. This in turn means there is no true satisfaction that you personally have made a difference. There is also a huge lack of emotional attachment to larger charities, which for me is an issue. If you are promoting a cause, or raising funds... you need passion, because it is that passion which will encourage others to support what you are doing and give you the drive to push for the best possible results.

With these considerations in mind I decided that "Act For A Cause" would be very personal and very direct. The cause would be an individual, somebody with a story to tell, someone you can relate to. I wanted people to know that their support will directly benefit one individual, and I wanted people to know how the money raised would be spent and to know first hand how much it would mean to that individual. What is beautiful about this is that the story then continues, its not the end the minute you donate some money, you walk away knowing that in fact you have allowed a brand new chapter in that individuals life to begin. Whats more because there is a personal feel to the cause - you know exactly what the next chapter has in store.

The issue is that there are thousands of worthy causes out there, people with a story, brave and courageous people who have been through more than their fair share of bad luck. I had to therefore set myself some criteria for this project. I decided that I wanted a sick child to benefit in some way or another. There is so much we take for granted when we are kids, even as adults. Its not until you realise how hard some kids have it, and how much they have missed out on that you realise how lucky so many of us are. I set our researching some cases, and in the end my shortlist amounted to about 100 different children.

It was horrible reading through the stories, realising the individual torments, and daily battles that these youngsters have to endure. it was harder still for me having to strike causes from my shortlist. The only thing which comforted me was that none of the people involved knew that I was shortlisting them. I felt it best that way. Finally I got myself down to a handful of cases, and it was at this point that I knew exactly who I wanted to support. I kept going back to his story, a young lad called Ben Smith.

Ben is eleven years old and has been bravely fighting leukemia and its side effects, which has left him very poorly. What touched me most about Ben was his spirit. Just reading about everything he s doing with his life, his feet must never touch the ground. That is not to say that the other kids stories lacked spirit, but Ben's was right out there. He is learning the drums and dance among other things and not letting his illness consume his life. Though this fight obviously brings huge challenges not only for Ben but also his family, who are just as extraordinary. Not only are they a close loving family, they work tirelessly to raise awareness and money for leukemia charities as well as keeping Ben's followers up to date with his news and progress.

Ben's spirit really moved me, I am not ashamed to admit there was a tear or two whilst reading about his fight. The fact that Ben is so very poorly, yet such a fighter with such an infectious smile made him my favorite. He is special... I knew that from the moment I first read about him. So it is fair to say that a special kid deserves the very best "Act For A Cause" had to offer.

But this cause isn't all about Ben. His family have been forced to live on one income, with Ben's dad being his full time carer. So on top of this struggle, Ben and his family can't always enjoy the luxuries some of us take for granted. Yet their passion not only for Ben but other sick children through their fund raising but also their unity as a family through all of these tough times makes them very very special people.

I therefore set out to find out what Ben's dream is. Dreams can come true, and f they deserved to come true for anyone its Ben and his family. It transpires he has always wanted to go too Disney Land in Florida. So that is our aim, to somehow get him and his family there! It will be a blast for Ben and his sisters that's for sure!

We know this will be a huge task, but I am determined to make our first "Act For A Cause" a success. We will be doing this by donating whatever we can from out ticket sales at the production as well as raising funds on the door etc. There will be a feature on Ben in the programme also. As with many not for profit organisations, we ourselves rely on sponsorship and donations. I liked the fact that people donating to our drama society know that in part their donation is not only helping the actors involved that it also plays a part in making Ben's dream come true. It makes you feel better when you know that the money you donate isn't helping just one good cause, it in fact helps two. Its like a buy one get one free offer at Tesco... only much better!

I really wanted our drama society to be different, with better morals and ethics than most of the bigoted drama groups around. I hope this is one of many ideas that make us unique. Just got to hope we raise enough funds now to stage the show on the scale which we are hoping to! Not only for the shows case but also for Ben!

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