Saturday, 9 May 2009

Storytelling Evening

To raise money for the performance and the party after we have decided to organise a Storytelling evening. We have recruited three 2nd years who had also done the Storytelling course to join Bex, Lucy and myself. We are performing on Tuesday the 12th May. The tickets are £2 and we are planning to have an audience of 20-40 people.

Week 2 in Leicester - What we did ...

When we started the second week we were full of enthusiasm. We were determined to try and change the school even if it was only slightly. When we returned to the classes we were met with a warm welcome and that made us feel completely focused and motivated about what we were there to do.

Year 10's - Session 1

With the year 10 classes we firstly spoke about how we communicate. How do you communicate? The answers that we got from this were 'through talking' and 'through eye contact'. We then spoke about body language and sometimes if you are sitting in class with a 'not bothered' body language that communicates to the teachers that you do not really want to be there and if they were the teacher then how would they feel seeing that.

We then played the 'Face Value Game' which is where Lucy, Bex and I wrote three facts down about ourselves on bits of paper and then the class had to match the phrases to us. This showed them that taking people on face value is never accurate and that how you present yourself physically infers more to people than you realise.

We then went on to play Babushka, where someone stands at the front of the room and the class tries to run up behind them without them seeing. When the person at the front of the room turns round the class has to freeze and then when asked make up a story about the body position that they are in. This then developed into having to lye on the floor before getting to the front and then to having to lye on the floor and sit on a chair before getting to the front. This enabled their imaginations to be motivated and completely use how their body was communicating to the class.

We then went on the play 'Freeze' which is where the class stands in a circle and two people start off a scene in the middle of the circle. Someone in the circle then shouts freeze and using the physical position that the two performers are in, swap with one of them and create a new scene. This game developed the idea of Babushka and again gets them to think about how their bodies are communicating to the outside world

We then got the class to get into three groups and in 5 seconds create a tableau. Once this shape was created they then were given a setting, such as an art gallery. Then they had to come up with line which represent why they were in that physical position in that setting. This gave them the opportunity to see that verbal communication can be dictated by physical movement and does not always have to be verbal dictating the physical.

Year 10's Second Session

The classes responded really well to the game Babushka and therefore at the start of the second session we played the game again.

We then lined five chairs up in a row and had five volunteers to sit on the chairs. In chair number one they were neutral and in chair number five they were exaggerated. The chairs in between had to bridge the gap between the two extremes. We then gave the students an emotion such as sadness. Once they had started we noticed that they would cry and then stop, so we encouraged them to keep the acting going and keep the momentum up. Then we would add a sixth person i.e. one of us and demonstrated how extreme you could be. This demonstrated that they felt self-conscious whilst on stage but by adding one of us into the equation it enabled them to see that it was, for example Lucy on stage it was her character and that even though you feel silly, to the audience you just look the part. This gave the class motivation to play every character with conviction and focus.

This led onto the '3 chair emotion game'. This is where there were three chairs on stage, a happy chair, a sad chair and an angry chair. when stood by that chair you had to take on that emotion whilst having a conversation. Therefore two students got up and acted a scene moving from chair to chair. This allowed them to create a scene very quickly and showed them that if you get stuck, see what happens when you change an emotion and can give them another way to develop any scene.

We then concluded by bringing everyone back into a circle and see what they had obtained from the lesson. They admitted that they looked at performance in a different light and they now knew that you look more 'stupid' on stage if you are not committed to the role than if you are. If you focus on what you are communicating to an audience and what you are bringing to a role then your performance will be more convincing. They also said that they were now more aware of what body language truly communicates.

Year 11's - Sessions

This was the first time that we had, had the year 11's. Therefore we combined the first weeks sessions with the second weeks sessions. We did the one word story game followed by the plan for the second week.

On the Wednesday evening we attended their Dance Exam performance where they sang songs and dances from musicals. When we joined the year 11 Dance class on Thursday they were reviewing the tape and talking about how well they thought it had gone. They had said that it could have gone better and some parts were 'rubbish'. Therefore over the next two sessions that we had with them we did the lesson plan and they commented that they wanted to be proud of the work they performed and they weren't as proud as they could have been with the performance the earlier evening. They said that they realised through the sessions that again if you are committed to the work, i.e. turn up for rehearsals and work hard on your role then you can perform well and actually be proud of the work they produce.

These class was described to us as one of the worst classes but actually some of the ones we enjoyed teaching most and i feel these two classes absorbed and improved the most.

Year 12's, Year 13's and Year 12 B-Tec

As we were asked to help the older students with their exam work, we just helped them develop their ideas

The Year 12's were working on a drama in the community project - we helped them develop the idea that they would do a performance in a nearby wood and take the audience through the wood and show them what had happened over the years in that wood through the trees eyes

The Year 13's were working on a devised piece and chose to use a poem called 'The Piano' for their stimulus. The poem was about a man who remanissed about the time when his mothered played the piano to him when he was younger and that this was the best time in his life. They were four women and therefore decided to tell the story about the man through the women he had had in his life, through the mothers eyes, the wife's eyes, the mistresses eyes and the sister's eyes and that how he could never love them as much as he loved his mother and the piano.

The Year 12 B-Tec were working on musicals from 'Cats'. They brought their pieces and the backing tracks to the sessions and we went through how they could perform the pieces. Some people we conscious as they felt that they couldn't sing so therefore we involved them in the chair games, talked about earlier in the blog and tried to show them that as long as they fully performed the piece that actually you could pull it off. If you believed you were the character singing that song then the audience would.

The Teacher Session

Again even though we had advertised the teacher session only four students accept Kate attended the session. This made us feel that we were teaching to the converted but we continued as we knew how important this session was.

We played the face value game and expressed how important it was that you did not take people for face value. The teachers responded by saying that only bad teachers take students on face value or because of what other teachers have said about them. However much this statement is true i felt that they were overlooking how natural it is to make judgments about people. We also explained that we had spoken with the students about this and how they can judge teachers on face value as well.

We then played another game with them where myself, Lucy and Bex would play a game and they had to try and guess how the game worked. For example i would say a phrase and put my hands on my knees, therefore i would be correct. Then a teacher would say a phrase but not put his hands on his knees (as it is not a natural thing to do) and he would be wrong. We would each say a phrase going round the circle until most of the group had got how to be 'correct'. we played a few more games of this manner and then spoke about how frustrating it is for students and teachers when they do not understand something. I.e. when a student does not understand what is being taught and also when a teacher does not understand why a student acts the way they do.

From this talking point we went on to speak about in their opinion, what makes a good teacher and what makes a bad teacher. They said that 'it is hard to say what makes a bad teacher as they did not have any bad teachers within the school' so instead decided to concentrate on what makes a good teacher. They said ...

'A good teacher is someone who always puts their students first'

'A good teacher is someone that understands how a students home life can be as well as their school life'

We then divulged into a discussion about general things within the school and about teaching life. They expressed that they realised what the students go through but that sometimes they do not realise what the teachers go through everyday either.

This was where we decided that each 'side' as it were needed to be shown what the other goes through and deals with. Therefore we decided to come back and put on a performance showing what we have experienced over our time at Longslade and the different views that we have encountered. We then wanted to have a party after the performance where the teachers and the students can mingle and maybe try to bridge the gap slightly. We know we will not be able to change this school dramatically but if we are just planting seeds then it is something.

Plan for 2nd Week in Leicester

We aimed this second week in Leicester to be about communication. This is because we felt that if there was better communication within the school then they would be able to improve on the issues that were occurring.


Monday 30th March - Year 10 Drama and Year 10 Performing Arts

Tuesday 31st March
- Year 12 Drama and Year 13 Performing Arts

Wednesday 1st April
- Year 10 Drama and Year 13 Performing Arts and Year 12 B-Tec

Thuesday 2nd April
- Year 11 Drama and Year 11 Performing Arts and session with the Teachers

Friday 3rd April
- Year 12 Drama and Year 13 Performing Arts and Year 12 B-Tec


Session 1

Talk about how you communicate
Face Value Game
Play Babushka
Play Freeze
Create a tableau, give them a place, they create a line each to represent who and where they are

Session 2

Play Babushka
Levels of emotion from 1-5
3 Chair emotion game
Conclude with what they have learnt about performance skills

Kate asked that with the older years, whether we could help them with their exam work. Therefore with the ...

Year 12's - we helped with community project
B-Tec - we helped with their musical exam
Year 13's - we helped with their devised piece

Session with the teachers

Face Value Game
What makes a good teacher and what makes a bad teacher?
Games - demonstrating how frustrating it is when you don't get something
Discussion about what we have seen and what we have been doing with the students and get their feedback

We also created feedback sheets for the students and teachers to fill in, so that we could get a realistic view on how they had felt about the work we were doing

Lunchtime Performances and Evaluation of 1st Week

Evaluation of Week 1 at Longslade

When we first arrived we were apprehensive, we were worried about how the students would react to us and whether they would response well to the plan that we had for them, or even if they wanted the communication between the students and the teachers to be improved. We did go in with assumptions, but i think this is natural of anything. Our fears were that the students might not care about the work and play up in class, like the stereotypical outlook on teenagers in school. However, when we started our classes we found that the students were enthusiastic and willing to work hard and were really focused.

When we decided to advertise the lunchtime performance for the teachers an email was sent round by the drama department and we decided to go to the staff rooms of the different departments. If i am honest we were truly shock by the reaction that we received. The comments when we spoke to the teachers about the 15 minutes of their lunchtime that they had to spare were ...

'oh, don't we have a meeting to go to? ... er (giggle) ... yeah some meeting is on, but I'll try'

'really? i have just had the year 10's for cooking, i don't really want to see them again'

'have you heard about that performance that is going on at lunchtime?'
'Oh yeah, isn't it about how the students are going to tell us how to do our job?'
'You going?'
'I think i have got better things to do with my time don't you?'

At Longslade the students do not have school uniform and therefore as myself, Lucy and Bex are quite young we tended to blend in with students. We approached one of the staff rooms where a teacher opened the door, did not say a word, looked at us and then folded her arms. We were so unnerved by this reaction that when Lucy began speaking she stuttered. However, after we had explained where we were from and what we were doing the lady changed almost immediately to accommodate us. This was just a look into how some teachers were treating the students.

When it came to the performances, a total number of two teachers came to the Wednesday performance, but luckily other students had come to support their peers. The reaction that we received from the performers was 'Miss, where are the teachers? i thought the teachers were meant to be coming to watch us?'. i personally felt like we had failed them but actually it was the teachers not supporting the students.

After this we spoke to the head teacher. We expressed how much we had enjoyed working with the students and what work we had done with them. We expressed delicately how disappointed we were at the turnout from the teachers at the performance and he said that he was also disappointed and that more effort should have been made on their part.

On the Friday performance there were about ten teachers, including the head master who attended the performance.

Working with the year 10's was really enjoyable, one class was extremely bubbly, enthusiastic and creative. The second year 10 class was slightly shyer but still as creative, they just needed a bit more encouragement. However, even though one class was shy and the other extrovert both classes were focused when it came to the performance. They truly put their all into the issues and came up with sensible and constructive ideas to put forward to the teachers.

The year 12's were also amazing. The B-Tec class shared beautiful stories and i feel really bonded together well that lesson. The second year 12 class worked extremely hard on the performance and again brought forward constructive ideas and showed a very real view of the school and their solutions were very inspiring to us as well as the teachers.

The year 13's were a lovely class to teach. They were four girls who liked drama but seemed as if they had a lot of talent but no direction. Becca one of the girls refused to tell a story about herself which was OK but a shame because she has a lot of potential. By the second session Becca and the other girls performed creative performances and learnt how to be active instead of talkative, which could sometimes be an issue.

We left the school with a completely different impression. Firstly we did not want to leave. The students were inspiring and not as scary as we had first assumed. Unfortunately, we could not say the same for the teachers. We recognised that being a teacher is extremely tough an the work load is extremely heavy. However, surely stimulating and supporting your students is a must in that job? Some teachers were amazing such as the drama department and a few others but on the whole we were disappointed by the involvement and interest that the teachers had shown in their student. The reasons for the students comments 'i wish the teachers could have more respect for us' were becoming apparent. We also understand that not every teacher is interested in drama, however, i can't help but feel that if you belong to a school you belong to that community and therefore as 'leaders' of that community, support anything positive that is occurring within that community.

When leaving we felt that this issue could not be left and that we had actually only scratched the surface and felt we could help more. Therefore we decided to come back for a second week. Our main aim was to work with the teachers as well as the students. The work with the teachers was imperative. We saw that there was a desperate need for change and that we may be able to help, even if it was only slightly. Therefore we scrapped the installation project and decided to work intensively at Longslade

Week 1 in Leicester - What we did ...

Our time table consisted of ..

Monday 9th March - 2 classes = Year 10 Drama and Year 10 Performing arts

Tuesday 10th March - 2 classes = Year 13 Performing Arts and Year 12 Drama

Wednesday 11th March - 3 classes = Year 10 Drama and Year 10 Performing Arts and Year 12 B-Tec

Thursday 12th March - Off

Friday 13th March - 2 classes = Year 13 Performing Arts and Year 12 Drama


We had decided to scrap the idea of doing the storytelling performance as due to the time limit limited to a class timetable, we felt that spending the time we had working intensively with the students would be more beneficial to them instead of just watching a performance.

Our first lesson is Leicester was with about 25 year 10's. To say the least a bit daunting, especially after how Lucy describe how she used to behave in her classes but despite this slight apprehension i was really excited. We had our lesson plan and enthusiasm and were ready to go.

At first we sat down with the class in a circle. We explained who were were and where we were from and why we were at their school. We then went on to explain what were were planning to do that week. After we had introduced ourselves we decided to play a game that we labelled 'the name game'. This is something that we took from our storytelling module where you had to say your name and then think of a story or an incident about your name, i.e. how you got your name. This was to enable us to get to learn the students names as well as let them know we were interested in them as people and make them realise that they were not just a number. We went around the circle, each standing up, one by one, telling our stories about our names. One of these stories really stood out and it was from a girl called Ellie who said that after she was born she was not given a name for a whole year because they kept arguing over what to call her!

After we were all introduced and had broken the ice we decided to direct the lesson towards storytelling. We asked the students the question of 'What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of storytelling?' The responses that we received were, 'bed time stories', 'children' and 'fairy tales'. We then posed the question that were newspapers a form of storytelling? With this they answered 'yeah' and then started to develop their understanding of storytelling by saying 'films' and 'plays' as they all have a narrative.

After this section we decided to create one word stories. We all wrote our favorite word on a piece of A4 paper and placed it face up in the middle of the circle. We then went round the circle and one at a time picked a word whilst saying a sentence to make up a story. These stories consisted of munchkins eating chocolate and flying over rainbows. After this story came to an end we did the same exercise again but tried to encourage them to be aware of people next to them and help them make the story more developed by finishing you sentence by saying 'then' or 'suddenly'. We also encouraged them to be aware when the story was coming to an end and therefore try to round the story off. At the end a volunteer would try and recount the story.

Developing on this storytelling aspect more, the group paired off into twos and we gave them a book each. They labelled themselves A and B. A would flick through the book and B would say stop. A would then find a word on that page and tell B a story stimulated by that word. They then swapped over.

After this exercise they got into three groups and each of us joined one of these separate groups. They were then given a fairytale and a language. For example 'Little Red Riding hood' and French. Then as a group we worked on acting out this story in a different language so that when we performed it back to the class, the class had to guess which fairytale it was.

At the end of the lesson we joined back into a circle and concluded the lesson with feedback and what they had learnt.

We then travelled to our second year 10 class only to find that two member of the first class were in the second class as well. This caused problems as we did not want to do everything the same as it was important that those two member Ollie and Ellie were still interested in the session. Therefore, we changed the end section of the lesson so that they created their own stories using movement and sound instead of words.

After these two sessions we realised that the A and B book work, was not effective and the students did not seem to take to the exercise. Therefore we decided to use this time in the other sessions on the creative group work at the end as this was something that the students really engaged with.

This first lesson plan was used as a template to the other classes, however with the year twelves and thirteens instead of creating their own stories in groups, we wrote another word on a piece of paper and they told their own personal stories to the group which were stimulated by that word. Some great stories came out of these groups, one was from a student called Chris. He had the word 'lost' and recounted a humorous story about when he got lost in Ikea when he was younger. We developed the plan more for the year thirteens to take it once step further, as well as the one word stories we also had a section with objects, where we chose one of the objects from the circle, passed it round and developed the story. This object game developed the emotion within the story as well as the story itself. One of my favorite stories that came out of this process was where we had a crumpled up piece of paper, it became a letter that an ex-boyfriend had written, it had said everything that we had wanted the boyfriend to say, but it was just to late. These pieces were beautiful and i feel really encouraged the students to be creative and have faith and encouragement from their own imagination and feelings.


In the second session with the classes we wanted to build on storytelling and what they had learnt from the first class. We also wanted to develop short pieces about the issues within the school to show the teachers at lunchtimes (Wednesday Lunchtime - the year 10's and Friday Lunchtime the year 12's)

We started off the session with the year 10's talking about what our aim was for the end of the class, i.e. wanting to perform pieces in that lunchtime to show the teachers how the students felt about the school. The reaction from the students was scared but enthusiastic to have their say. As we had felt all along whilst doing this project, we wanted to show them that we would be prepared to do anything that they were doing. Therefore, Lucy told a story about when she went travelling to give them technical ideas of how they could present their story and that a piece without props can be just as interesting as one with.

After Lucy had told her story we got into three groups and discussed what issues they felt needed looking at within the school. The first subject that came up in my group was that the teachers didn't respect them. Being an outside party we were in quite a privileged position and i asked them whether they felt that they deserved the teachers respect? Which the reply was 'well we do act up sometime, so we probably don't deserve their respect all the time but even when we are good they still don't respect us so whats the point?'. They went on to discuss other issues but one that resounded the most within the group was an event that the school held called 'Enterprise Day'. This day was where the students took part in gardening and other activities. They felt that the activities were forced upon the students and they had not asked them what they wanted to do. When i asked them what they would like to do on this day, they said, surprisingly, more classes. They wanted to do more classes like drama and dance as well as the fun side of physics where you study electricity and you hold the ball which makes your hair stand on end. Therefore, we performed a before and after scene where Ellie (the teacher) asks the students out of the events on the list what they would like to do. The student pick an event but are unenthusiastic and agree that they are not going to turn up for 'Enterprise Day' (as this is what usually happens). The scene then resets and Ellie asks the students what they would like to do on enterprise day, they vote and the ones with the most votes gets actioned. The other groups performed pieces on lack of respect for the students that the teachers showed and that all they wanted was them to ask the students nicely to do things instead of speaking down to them or shouting. In the second year 10 group they performed scenes about how they would like to change assembly and again respect for the student appeared again (showing it was a point within the school which appeared to be an issue)

We did the same plan for the year 12's. They chose to perform a piece on how reputation of the school. There was a headmistress talking about the potential that the school had and the good grades that the school were achieving. There was a student who was looking to attend the school, but was put off by the litter. There was an ex-student who spoke about that she had seen an improvement within the school but with the remaining issues she just didn't know how to solve them. Then finally there were a few student gathered together interrupting the speech of the three character putting forward ideas of how to change the school and what they would do, i.e. give the A-Level students more responsibility and let them run certain activities on Enterprise Day, make some of the activities fun like clearing up a section of the litter and then painting one of the walls creatively.

These pieces were then shown to the teachers in lunchtime.

Unfortunately the year 13's would not get the chance to perform in front of the teachers as their second session was in the afternoon on Friday. Therefore we did the same session but at the end instead of talking about the school we gave them activities to enhance their dramatic skills as they had exams coming up shortly and wanted some help with this. We developed from the one word stories with the objects onto them creating a piece from a stimulus. They exam piece is based on creating a devised piece from a stimulus so we thought this practice would be beneficial. We gave one group a pack of batteries and the other group a ticket. These pieces were really good and in the evaluation at the end said that they had learnt a lot about creating ideas from something so simply. They recognised that in the past they tended to over think subjects and as a result spend a long time talking about it but not physically doing anything. So by giving them a time limit made them actually get up and create. As a result they created pieces that they enjoyed and that were really good.

As we only had the B-Tec class for one session and after lunchtime we could not do something to show the teachers due to their time constraints so we combined the first session as well as the second session. We spoke about story telling and created one word stories, then went on to Lucy telling her own story about travelling which then developed to them telling their own stories about the school, their personal experiences. As they were their personal experiences, we expressed that in the class we would build a trust circle and that these stories would stay within the group and go no further. These stories were beautiful and we felt so privileged as they were so personal. However, due to the trust that we built i do not want to enclose what they were about, i would just like to mention that they were outstanding, truly honest and a gift to the class when we heard them.

Amateur Dramatic Group

We worked with GMDG Amateur Dramatic Group in the evening of the 11th March. Like the B-Tec groups we used bits from the first session and the second session but developed it to suit the drama group.

We introduced ourselves and played 'the name game' with the group which was also developed into a short story about their life so far. We then went on to the one word stories, then did it a second time to encourage them to be aware of ending the story and making it coherent. Lucy, Bex and I then performed our personal stories to the group so that they could see that we were again part of the group and not just telling them what to do. The group then split off into three groups and told each other a story about themselves. The group then picked one of these stories and created a performance. One of these stories really stuck with me. There were three women in the group, they had all had hard jobs, one being a nurse, one being a police woman and the other a nanny. The nurse said that she had always hated her hands as from washing them all the time while being a nurse they had made them look older. They then discussed that they all had 'hands on jobs' in their past. They performed all three of their stories connecting them by the use of their hands and the phrase 'you don't know what you've got until its gone'. All the stories we really good, either funny, or sentimental. We later found out that the group have never done work about themselves before, or even created a devised piece. They always work with script work. They said that they really enjoyed having something new brought to them and didn't realise that their lives could make an interesting piece of drama.

Plan for Leicester

The first thing our group wanted to do was, create a piece to go and help with women who had been mentally and physically abused by men. We were very aware that men are also abused by women, but as we were three women, we thought this would be a better route to go down. We wanted to go into refuges and work with the women, to create a verbatim piece. Once we had these stories, we wanted to tour them to make people aware that, this does happen to women and to try and get rid of the stigma that 'if i were in that position, I'd just leave'. We wanted to show how difficult it was to leave, when in that situation. After the performance we wanted to have a question and answer session so that, we could root out and hopefully abolish this stigma. However, even though i felt this was a great project, due to institutes not being reliable in getting back to us, even though seeming keen, we were forced to abandon it.

Therefore, a new plan was needed. Myself and Lucy worked together last year in the 'Teaching and Education' module. We had really enjoyed this module and really liked the positive work and result that had been achieved. Therefore, as Bex had also done some work in school, we decided to try and improve the relationship between the teachers and students within a school.

Now the question was which school. As far as i am concerned any school can benefit from work that aims to improve communication, however, there are schools which are in need of this work more than others. When discussing what school to go to, we naturally started talking about our old schools. Bex had a really good school life, of course full of ups and downs but on the whole was quite happy. My school was OK, some of the teachers were forthcoming when helping students but others were not so helpful. Lucy then spoke about her school and that there were issue within that school that could be improved, the school went through five headteachers whilst Lucy was there and because of this the school was closely watched by Offsted. We then came to the conclusion that due to our module being 'Drama in the Community', why not focus on a community that we knew and were familiar with. As a result of this we decided to organise the project around Lucy's secondary school, Longslade. Longslade is a school which consists of year 10 to year 13, and therefore ages of 15 - 18. Knowing this information we then had to concentrate on booking time with the school and planning our work and making sure it would be relevant and interesting for this age group.

We got in contact with the head of drama and dance at the school, Kate Goddard and arranged to spend a week in Leicester with the students. The week that we will be attending Longslade is the 9th March 2009 to the 13th March 2009. Bex, Lucy and I had all studied the Storytelling module last year and thought that this would be a great way to bridge the gap between the students and the teachers. Our plan was to create a workshop and within the classes, then use those workshops to create pieces that allowed the students, in groups to express issues or problems within the school, that they felt needed addressing. These pieces would then be shown to the teachers within a lunchtime. We chose to do this as we felt it was a constructive way to bring these issues to the forefront on a safe platform.

We were also aware that just walking into a class and just telling students what we wanted to do might not be the best way to start. Therefore, we also decided to start off the sessions with an introduction to storytelling performed by 'Shifting Point' (our group name). This piece would consist of the history of storytelling. How stories have developed through time from Cavemen and drawings, to the Egyptians and hieroglyphics, to modern day and facebook. We thought that by putting ourselves in front of the pupils right at the start, we would be able to show them that, we would be prepared to do anything that we would ask them to do; instead of just sitting and pointing out what we would want them to do, we were prepared to be involved with them and actively teach.

Expanding the modules intentions more, we also decided that in the evenings we would work with a amateur dramatic group. Therefore looking at people within the school community and see what issues they felt needed to be brought forward. With this group we also wanted to use storytelling as a constructive way for their points of view to be expressed.

We then expanded on this further as we thought that we should bring the school and the community together. We wanted to do an installation piece in the Easter break where, the students would meet with the community and create a range of different pieces. This could include storytelling, dance, music, art. Then with this, try to bring the community in to get involved, i.e. local musicians, local artists to give a true and real view of Leicester.

The part about storytelling which i like the most is that it is a way of communicating in a very effective manner. You can get a message across constructively, through humour, through movement, through just being yourself and being given the opportunity to say exactly what you want to say in a structured way. This is actually why i enjoy drama so much because every piece of drama, every performance has a story to tell.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Get involved!!! Quote Page

In my last entry I spoke about what I loved about doing drama and my favourite quote that I have learnt over the years which is..

Peter Brook - 'A man walks across an empty space while someone else is watching him, and that is all that is needed for the act of theatre to be engaged'

I would love to know some others. Let me know what your favourite quotes are. They do not have to be fully drama related but just something that stimulates the mind.

Lets get involved in the our own Drama Community and lets have a quote page or just say what you love about drama and what motivates you to do it! When we have so much work on the go it is easy to forget what you love about drama - so lets remind ourselves!!!

Storytelling and the Community

I was wondering around the internet trying to spark ideas for this project and came across this website...

I just though it was an interesting read - especially for those people who did storytelling as a module last year

'Community storytelling is a new way of looking at storytelling. It uses story to connect members of a community. By listening to stories and telling their own stories, participants in a community grow closer to their fellow members.
Traditional cultures relied on storytelling within the oral tradition to save each other's stories. They told their stories and they were remembered and retold by others. This technique depends on the relationship between the teller and the listener. Not only does the listener receive the story, but also the listener is charged with keeping the story alive. The story exists as long as someone lives to tell it.

Community storytelling strengthens communities in many ways. It identifies the values of a community. It provides common experiences. It strengthens the commitment of the members to the group.

Community storytelling helps communities define their values. Groups usually form because for some purpose. They have some commonality that they hold important. Whether a community is beginning or has existed for years, storytelling provides a way of members examining their reasons for participation in the group as well as making conscious the values of the community as a whole. New groups determine their values. As groups begin, they often struggle to define who they are and what their purpose is. Whether it's teams within a corporation or groups of volunteers who are thrown together to solve a common problem.

It provides a shared experience that members can build on later. Common experiences by groups often create communities. Wartime has spawned many groups of armed service personnel who create community around that shared experience. Storytelling provides one common experience that the community can use a reference point in their collective experience.
It supports strengthening the commitment of members to the group. By becoming more away of their own personal values and how they relate to the values of the group, participants in community storytelling become more committed to the group.

Storytelling has existed for as long as people have spoken. People have always created words that another would hear. Storytelling creates those direct connections between people and strengthens communities as result.'

Take a look at this websites digital storytelling ...

I love that drama develops communities and effects every person that it comes into contact with. I love how it has effected me. I love that it has allowed me to have an outlet. It motivates me, makes learning interesting, fun, challenging and worthwhile. It allows you to explore subjects that are real. The quotes in this passages of 'People have always created words that another would hear' and 'The story exists as long as someone lives to tell it' really reminds me of my favourite quote which i have learnt in drama which is from Peter Brook - 'A man walks across an empty space while someone else is watching him, and that is all that is needed for the act of theatre to be engaged'

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Working in Spain with Taller Spiral

Just before Christmas Mark Moffat and I went to Spain to work with a theatre company called Taller Spiral. They specialise in working with communities and use drama to develop those communities. Over this weekend I saw first hand how much of an effect that Drama can have in a community and bringing the people in that community together.

We worked in a place called Rhiello with an small community theatre group called Los Transumantes. The piece we were working on was about a town that was next to theirs which was being converted into a natural park. One of the youngest members of the group Ruben (23) co-wrote the a play with the company's founder Chris about this situation. The play incorporated all the different views of the town and the diversity of the community that they lived in.

The language barrier was very apparent as only 1 or 2 of the people could speak English-ish, in a group of about 10, (let alone me and Mark not being able to speak Spanish). However this language barrier made me truly realise that verbal language isn't everything. Even though we did not speak the language Mark and I managed to understand everything that was going on in their rehearsal process through tone of voice, body language and facial expression.

In Rhiello, the weather consists of snow and more snow. Therefore getting to the village hall for rehearsals is incredibly difficult. However due to the play being about real life and their community encouraged people to make the effort. This action as well as trying to work well together to create a good piece really showed me how Drama could truly effect a community and bring people together.

Another aspect which opened my eyes was how much the group welcomed us into their community. They did not treat us differently or make us feel uneasy, they opened up their village with open arms and made us feel truly welcome. I wish there were more communities out there like this. I have put the link to Spiral's website just below - check it out they are an amazing company!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Can a community just exist of two people?

Right! It's you and me blog, im in the red corner and you're in the blue corner and you are not going to defete me! - I am not going to put off writing this blog any more! I suppose i just feel like i have nothing to write and that everything i say really won't be interesting to anyone else.

I read Lucy's blog named 'Personal' and it really got me thinking. I have been think about what a community is and not what my communities are and what it means to me. I am really lucky to have a good family around me. My mum and dad are still together and i have an older sister and brother. Being the youngest does have it's benifits but despite popular belief does have its downfalls. My Dad finds it hard to let go - im the youngest so he knows once i go there are no more kids to look after. This is the community which i am closest to. Can family be your community? Or does it come under a seperate bracket?

I have a couple of friends that i have known for what feels like my whole life (some of them i have known for all my life) We have common interests, we have/do live close to one another and gone to the same schools etc. Does this make us a community?

I have had bad relationship in my life where i can't stress enough that my boyfirned was litterly my everything. I only saw him and only really spoke to him. He was my community for a while. Or was he? Was he just my boyfriend and duw to my isolation i didn't actually have a community?

I live in a small village, i have lived here all my life, in the same house and with the same neighbours. Boring huh? Or is it? Living in a small village does have its good points where you do really feel like a proper 'community', i suppose neighborly community. Its one of those villages where everyone knows your business but as they are so nosy you do know your house is being looked after when your away. Some are so nosy that if something does happen, like a burglery that they were so busy already looking at your house trying to see what you were up to that they have seen what the get away car was, who was driving and the taken down the number plate! However can a community be more than just where you live and what clubs, church, or school you belong to?

I read Hannah's blog on television and thinking of that as a community - i really see where she is coming from - i too have been ill and therefore have been ... forced ... cough cough ... to watch daytime TV. Not only programs like loose women but there is a program on in the morning called The Right Stuff (or The Wright Stuff - i can't remember). This program looks at what is going on in Britain (a community we all belong to) and poses questions to a panel and to the audience at home to ring in and have their say. Therefore this watching audience i feel can be a community as they all have the same thing in common in the fact that the issues that they are talking about are all happening to us - i.e. should we smack our children? and it give this massive community an outlet to have their say. But again this is associated with the community of where you live i.e. Britain.

I suppose the question i am asking is - what makes a community? Can it be a family? Can it be your friends? Can it be just one friend? Can it be a partner? Can a community just exist of just two people?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Cardboard Citizens

I have just come home from watching 'The Help' and thought it was great. Before i went in i was a but dubious of what it was going to be like as i have been a bit sceptical of Forum Theatre before. However this piece was really thought provoking and informative. One of the issues that really hit home with me was the amount that hostels cost to stay in! I felt so naieve that i didn't know so many things about this area and to be honest, however much i don't want to admit it, that it had never truely crossed my mind. However saying this, i feel that the whole wpoint of Cardboard Citizen is to help and educate and they really educated me on an area of life which i was quite uninformed about.

The joker - I thought she was excellent. She really kept the piece together and moved the piece forward without dissmissing any point or suggestions that were highlighted by the audience. I felt she instantly relaxed the audience by 'clapping and chearing the late commers'. This was something that automatically warmed up the crowd and made me want to listen to what she had to say.

The antagoinists again were really good. They made it hard for the specator but without making the volentee feel like there idea was given, then a door slammed in their face. They worked with them but encouranginly against them.

I did find it hard to completely engage and connect with some of the stories such as Rowina's or John's as i have never seen or been in those situations myself. However it was nice to feel that this was ok as the joker made me feel that even though i may have not been in these situations, i was still a human being and therefore could empathise with the protagonist through human emotion.

The Props were outstanding! the use of puppets as the children were creative and believable thorough characturisation. My personal faveroite was the younger actor being the babies head with the body being a puppet. Using his facial expression completed this particular story for me as it allowed the audience to see the perspective of the child as well as thinking about the protagonist.

The bag lady was a great way to connect the scenes but also allow the audience to keep homing back in to the original point of homelessness. The running joke of the spicy soup was especially well placed as it kept the piece upbeat whilst not detracting from the main point of the forum piece.

The fact that it was so hard to come up with suggestions really resinated with me about how hard it must be for the people in those situations and made me really think about what i would do if i were in that situation and how would i try to get out it. I didn't get many concrete answers of how you would but has definately made me think about the issue seriously.

I felt the way that the piece was put across to us was great by the company as a whole because i felt that even though the performance was over, i felt free to ask how to help with the situation or if i was a homeless person watching this that i could chat to them and maybe find help with a way to improve my situation.

We went for a drink with the actors after the production finnished and it was nice to hear about their situatuations and how they became involved with cardboard citizens. It was reassuring that they really work hard with people in hostels and don't just go in, show them a play and the leave and how much hope they give the audience watching the piece and really try them to get involved; not just with the performance itself but with the work that they do before and after. They are going on to show a piece in a prision in London but there is no way to see it unless im in prison - so petty crime is on my do to list!

The main thing i was worried about was that when we come to do our pieces, i dont want to just go into a place a come across patronising or seem like 'i know what your going through' when i dont have a clue. I spoke to the Joker about this and the main advice she gave me was be honest, don't just pretend to save face and research, research, research! It has made me really enthustiastic about our up and coming projects.

If you didn't see this show then truely you missed out. I came away feeling really possitive, motivated and inspired.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

09/10/2008 Lession on Narrative

What happened in the lecture...
  • Ball Throwing Game
  • Read the start of 'Overspill' in groups of three then watched one group perform it
  • The 12 Dancing Princesses told in different way
- Relaxed way (allowed to sit in a comfy position)
- Primary School Teacher (Patronising, acting out the words i.e Rowing, disjointed, sit up straight, told off)
- Students took the seat and tried to relay the story back. If got it wrong another student allowed to sit in the chair and tell the story correctly
- Adapting the story, using the same start then going around the circle saying a couple of sentences to develop the story into something different
  • Tell a true story to each other in Pair, One interview style (i.e. controlling the story by asking questions) and the other free speech (letting the storyteller speak freely without questions)
  • Read our Stories back to each other and then in groups of 4
  • Chose a story and how/where to stage that story
In the lecture when Molly was telling us the story, I felt relaxed and free to imagine the story how I wanted to and as she allowed us to relax and just told us the story, the story told itself and allowed the class to get lost in imagining the fairytale in our heads. Then as soon as Molly suddenly changed into a very assertive manner and told us all to sit up and concentrate, this completely distracted me from the story. Molly also told us to stop fidgeting and to act out the actions within the book like, the rowing of the boat. Telling the story in this way made the narrative disjointed and almost felt like she was forcing us to imagine what the boat would look like and what the castle would look like instead, of just allowing our minds to wander and imagine freely. The status between Molly and the class at this point was very unequal. However when we started to move on and were allowed to tell the story ourselves sitting in the 'teacher's chair' it allowed the distance in status to diminish. This was taken one step further when we all sat on the floor in a circle and allowed to adapt the story sentence by sentence. However this total equality did have its limitations as you would have a sentence of what you wanted to say already in your head and then the person before you would change the story completely so it forced you to be spontaneous and give up your idea. Another downside to telling a story this way is when you come up with an idea and then the person next to you says 'no they didn't do that they did ...'. In a class children where some of the members might be quite shy these sorts of comments can be a little bit damaging.

When we told a true story of a night out that we had had to another member of the class and they told it back to us, i became very possesive over my story. If they missed a slight detail out i wanted to correct them as i felt that every point was important However, when reading someone else's story i felt quite responsible for not missing out details on their story. It was quite nice to learn a little bit more about someone that otherwise i might not have known.