Ben’s Story

I really left home at 11 years old, when my parents sent me to a rough boarding school in the dark jungles of Essex. I was fighting too much with my twin brother and my mother gave me a book to read ‘Jennings goes to school’.  A story of a nice school for sensitive posh boys, this I thought was going to be a wonderful adventure.
I was about to learn that nothing is what it seems...
I arrived at this Victorian imposing estate, Dickensian school and my heart dropped.  Here they were rough working class kids from troubled backgrounds.  After a week, I had a playful fight in the corridor with a boy named Mark, he was the son of an army man and punched me hard on the jaw. I was so shocked, I cried. After that it was a free for all. Any kid in my year who wanted status, punched me, trying to make me cry. This traumatized my innocence, shut my feelings down and lead me into the heady world of victim drama. By the end of that year, I had had a nervous breakdown, was chased and beaten every break time, tortured at night by the bad boys and had a bad sugar habit.
That 2 years was the most amazing experience, although terrible, events started on the first saturday evening disco all the boys lined up on one side and the girls the other, as soon as the music started there was I jiving away in the middle of the room wandering why everyone was not dancing. Three big boys came up to me as I was dancing and told me to stop showing them up. I have been dancing wildly, ever since. I found in me a strength I never thought I had. I discovered a deep faith, in a spiritual connection with people and became a social councillor to many of the boys who bullied me. I would walk them to the village as soon as I was out of the school, they would cry and tell me terrible stories of how their parents beat them, I would keep guard on them as they stole from the sweet shops and then as soon as we re-entered the school grounds, they would apologize, punch me and run away. This deliberate hypocrisy fascinated me.
I have been walking this road of inquiry into how we treat each other, spiritual energy, the body and how they talk to each other, ever since.  I was beginning to learn that hurt people, hurt people and vowed to help them and others, that had such low self esteem, towards a more positive existence.
At 13, it was announced that I was leaving the school to go back home, I was overjoyed and felt a new feeling of self confidence wash over me as I said farewell to those halls of pain.
On my first evening home, my father sat us all down in our living room, he cried, something he never did, mother was divorcing him, for one of their bridge playing friends. We were to leave him and go and live with this stranger. The next 25 years I was obsessed with drama. How to create a personality for myself, that no-one can abuse.
At 15, I got interested in photography from my art mistress.  I thought it was the best thing that had ever happened to me, 500 boys in the school and it was me, an older woman in authority wanted. Of course in those days there wasn’t really a concept in me of sexual abuse from a pretty woman.
At 17, I got the bug for teaching, by filling in for my disabled acting female teacher at Guildhall school of music and drama group. I would read transcriptions of Stanislavski’s workshops and run my classes from what I had understood. I have always known that I would return to that valuable work, but my self esteem was vey low and so I decided I needed to know who I really was and the best way to do that was to travel the world and experiencing as much life as possible. After 40 years I am ready to share some of what I have found on my adventures.
At 20, all I wanted to do was to be a professional actor who can dance. I had trained in Laban's movement psychology, to theatre improvisation with teachers like Augusto Baul to mask work and mime with Jaques Le Coc. I studied the techniques of dance/theatre improvisation from Comedia Del Arte traveling theatre. I always saw theatre as a cathartic opportunity for community healing.
I will never forget one night in London’s west End the house was packed, I saw the audience like a huge giant with one personality, which I had to get to know, then entertain him. During my 20’s I became fascinated with transpersonal states of consciousness through many plant medicines and learned to release much of the trauma that I had suffered in my past. Witnessing many of my generation experiment with what is now a recognized treatment for depression.
At 30, I was tired of the distraction of personal fame, full of the a knowledge of many roles we play in our culture, from 2 decades of acting in European movies, British TV and British theatre, learning the valuable lessons of shape shifting and illusion and how we use our personalities to manipulate as well as transform ourselves. But, after many years of study in the psycology of acting, plus the rejection many times a month at auditions, I was ready to move on.
At 40, I got the opportunity to travel the world and make films my mind was bad academically, but sharp as a button, with anything computerized and there was a new invention, the digital video camera. My first job away from acting was a 2 year job running a film school for street kids in Ethiopia, this fueled my interest in the worlds indigenous cultures.
My marriage had broken apart and it was now time I left home again, off around the globe with the double Grammy nominated project ‘1 Giant Leap’ and it’s sequel ‘What About Me’, has taken me to experience deep encounters with cultures in over 50 countries from the Namibian tribal doctors, shaking their healing dances, around a circle of clapping, singing wives, to store up the giraffe’s energy and then pour it back into the sick seated around the fire in the middle. I traveled to the pygmies of the Congo’s egalitarian jungles. from Maori’s in New Zealand, possession rituals in Ghana, war traumatized children in Uganda, this has always informed me of how those children I experienced in my youth could be prevented. I became convinced that these ancient cultures had the memories that our technological societies have lost. Indeed, I have gained a great deal of experience as a film maker making documentaries,  around the world. But always with the idea of coming home to my own culture and sharing this collective wisdom. So, recently, I have a growing experience of holding ceremony and making films of, initiating young men into adulthood, with ‘The Band of Brothers’ and ‘Journeyman UK’. I love to show the valuable work that many are doing for teenage troubled kids.
Now, in my late 50‘s, I am using my film work to enlighten a TV and film industry, towards a more positive purpose and their audiences towards subjects like, what can heal the addiction to the many distractions that bring abuse in this world. My future is stepping up to co-leading workshops with my wife, Caroline, taking what I have observed and sharing insights, I have had in others wisdom, to help us remember the medicine, we may have forgotten.