Nov. 15th 2023

Pumpkin-ville: A Dramatherapy placement with Tangled Feet

by Anna Crump


This is my experience as a trainee on placement with Tangled Feet, co-facilitating a small therapy group with young people, and qualifying as a Dramatherapist. Pumpkin-ville is where it all began…


Listen to the recording of this blog here


In my final year of studying Dramatherapy at Roehampton University, I was fortunate enough to do my placement with Tangled Feet, working with young people at an alternative educational provision. I was invited to co-facilitate a small group alongside an experienced and brilliant Dramatherapist, Kelly Jordan. The setting was a Pupil Referral Unit in London offering young people, who were unable to be in mainstream education due to their emotional needs, a curriculum focussing on holistic care. The group was made up of 5 young people aged 14-16, referred to weekly therapy with the aim of improving their verbal communication, self-esteem and sense of identity while expanding their capacity to process and regulate emotions. Most of the group struggled with high levels of anxiety and some were initially non-verbal. We wanted to support them to; form trusting connections with each other, gradually build confidence, feel valued and accepted for who they were, and feel safe enough to express themselves creatively.


Over the course of an academic year, we held 32 sessions for one hour on a weekly basis. The young people created an immersive imaginary world which they developed collectively and named it Pumpkin-ville. It consisted of 17 imaginary characters each with jobs, varying levels of popularity, status, health and intricate relationships with each other. Using ‘Persona cards’ as a starting point for inspiration, the group turned Pumpkin-ville into an extensive card game, loosely based on the game Top Trumps. 



Throughout weeks of designing, laminating, cutting, sticking, creating and assembling the game, the young people developed communication skills and began sharing their own experiences outside of the therapy space. We utilised a technique often used in Dramatherapy called ‘projection’ where a client projects aspects of themselves onto an external object to externalize theirinternal world. Using this process, the young people were able to safely distance themselves from personal and sometimes painful experiences, by projecting them onto imaginary villagers. This indirect approach to sharing feelings and communicating verbally meant the group could talk about what was going on in their lives or how they identified with a particular character in the game. The group members developed a huge amount of trust between them and Pumpkin-ville provided a collective anchor for them all. They could embrace their unique views, differing backgrounds, cultures, lived experiences at home, whilst relishing in their shared creativity. This seemed to provide them with hope and confidence in how they valued and perceived themselves.



As we brought the group to an end, the culmination of therapy was to finally play the epic card game and to enjoy the live experience of what they’d created together. It encompassed months of creativity and shared experiences, ending the therapeutic work with an energy of joy, accomplishment and pride.  


The support I received as a trainee throughout this process was nurturing, collaborative and refreshing. Tangled Feet provided me with external training to build my practical skills. I received regular support from my placement manager to aid my personal development and support with clinical work. Multiple members of the team actively guided me. As Dramatherapists, we are working in silo so this network of support was invaluable while training.


BADth Conference


With the permission from our 5 Pumpkin-ville creators, Kelly and I were invited to share Pumpkin-ville with the wider network of Dramatherapists in an immersive workshop at the annual BADth (British Association of Dramatherapists) conference in September 2023. We took 40 creative arts therapists on an immersive journey into Pumpkin-ville, wading through rivers, dodging the flying bats and jumping through sinking sand to arrive at the Pumpkin-ville gallery. We presented the aims for the group, their process, the logistics, as well as the therapeutic process. On display were the artistic creations of the villagers for participants to view. Splitting them into smaller groups, we sent them off each with a deck of Pumpkin-ville cards and gave them the space and opportunity to play the game themselves. It was a magical moment seeing so many adults giggling, making strange noises at each other (that was one of the rules!) and enjoying the game. We took photos and made a short video to take back to the young people to share the experience with them. 



Moving into the working world


After completing my placement, I was offered a job with Tangled Feet as a part-time Dramatherapist working across two Pupil Referral Units in London. It’s an honour to support young people, who are often in very precarious situations, to discover the own inner resources, be playful, give space for their pain, and recognise their worth. It is a privilege to be alongside them in their journeys and to be part of a caring and diligent team of professionals. I appreciate the continuous support from the wider team with regular check-ins, supervision and a network of seriously creative humans, doing seriously good work.



share Facebook Twitter

You may also like



Is this the freedom you’ve craved? Is this your nature cure? Have you come to grieve or to breathe, to resist or persist? What are you hoping for?

Read more

The Pop Up Performance Shop

Breathing life into empty shops or shopping centre units Tangled Feet offer a menu of short performances to delight passing audiences

Read more


A Tangled Feet and Rowan Tree Co-Production for 7 - 11 year olds.

Read more
Feb 23rdtoJun 6th 2024
  • So much more than theatre”

    So much more than theatre”

    Everything Theatre
  • Tangled Feet offer a glimpse of magic”

    Tangled Feet offer a glimpse of magic”

    Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
  • a truly transformative experience”

    a truly transformative experience”

    Children's Theatre Reviews
  • Tangled Feet, the masters of physical theatre”

    Tangled Feet, the masters of physical theatre”

    The Independent
  • inspiring, engaging… beautifully evocative.”

    inspiring, engaging… beautifully evocative.”

    Everything Theatre
We use cookies to offer you the best possible service. Continue browsing if that's OK, or find out more about our policy and how to manage cookies. ×