Looking for Shakespeare: the ‘time travel’ workshop

At the beginning of August I had once more the opportunity to do a theatre/English workshop with a group of 6-12 year olds within my university’s holiday programme targeted at the children of staff members. This time, the group consisted of 15 kids (10 girls, 5 boys), their English proficiency ranging from year 1 students understanding and speaking only isolated words up to year 5 or possibly even year 6 students who could understand a lot and were able to form sentences on their own and also at least 2 German/English bilingual children. However, in order to not exclude the little ones we did much of the workshop in German, integrating just smaller games or episodes of English now and then.

Having done a similar workshop in the Easter holiday programme, I was now trying to pay regard to some points which I then thought were in need of improvement and I think it’s good that I changed a few things:

  • less English because the smaller kids felt a bit left out the last time
  • a short break after about half of the time
  • involve the student supervisors in advance, tell them about my plans and ask for their support
  • get an additional theatre person as a co-trainer

Of course there was still a bit of chaos at times, and not every child will have understood everything and occasionally fights threatened to break out because some kids didn’t want to cooperate with certain others (there was a “boys vs. girls problem” we did not have last time) but the supervisors were quite strict here, so at least in one exercise boys had to work with girls – much to the boys’ annoyance. It’s possible that this time some of the older kids thought themselves already too old to believe in our story-telling/role-playing but luckily most of the time they played along, so I think all in all it was successful.

In case anyone is looking for inspiration for an English/history workshop about Shakespeare’s time and theatre for younger kids (this could well be adapted for a less heterogeneous groups than we had, it could also be done completely in one language, I guess, if the focus is on history), here’s an overview of the workshop:

My assistant (let’s just call her that) and I arrived in costume, dressed in “mad scientist” fashion and introduced ourselves as people from a time-travel agency that had been hired to take them on a trip to Shakespeare’s time and that now we would have to prepare them for this, so they would be able to get along in Elizabethan England for a while.


I handed out three short biographies (in German) describing the lives of famous men (Columbus, Martin Luther, Shakespeare) to the kids to read aloud. They had to guess who these people were and also, as they had identifed all three, if they lived before or after William Shakespeare. They guessed all three but thought that Martin Luther lived after Shakespeare… Elaborating on the description of Shakespeare (went to a big city to work, liked to tell stories and write them down, met the queen, family lived somewhere else), I asked and explained a bit about London, the Globe Theatre, and Queen Elizabeth, showing suitable pictures for each topic.

Shakespeare tableaux:

Drawing inspiration from a workshop by Tremaine Pavlovski at the 2013 IDEA conference, I explained the next task: we would have to familiarise ourselves a bit more with Shakespeare’s life and with acting. For this we were going to do tableaux (still-images/living statues, whatever you want to call it), showing scenes from Shakespeare’s life. The topics were assigned by me (and heavily inspired by the ones we had done in the IDEA workshop), showing Shakespeare working with his actors, coming home to his family and also meeting the queen. (This was the exercise were girl-boy-cooperation was required and only very reluctantly achieved.) Finally, all four groups, supervised by at least one adult each (thanks to the three supervisors and my assistant!) “performed” their still-images and got applause from the rest of the group.

I had been thinking of also including some crafting activity (making simple, Renaissance style hats of paper) that the kids could have worn during the “time travel” – to make them less conspicuous to the Elizabethans they might meet ;-) – but time was running short, so we skipped this.

The next, after we’d covered a bit of historical context, was to make them aware of some possibly useful English vocabulary. After all, so we told them, we would go to a country and period where people would speak only English!

Did they have this in Shakespeare’s time?

I had brought a basket full of everyday objects and paper labels with the English words for all them. Every child had to draw one object from the (covered) basket – the kids named the object in English (as far as they could, but this worked well, as we had a few bilingual kids in the group) and I asked them if these things already existed in Shakespeare’s time and to sort them (labelled) into two heaps on the floor: already existent in Shakespeare’s time or not. If not, I asked them what people would have used instead (e.g. we had a candle and a flashlight, or a telephone and a letter, so the explanations were fairly easy to find).

Finally, to set the theme for the actual time travel, I told them that an actor had given me a letter, asking the time-travellers to please convey this to Mr. Shakespeare. My original idea had been to have the letter in German and to let the kids translate but as the supervisors thought this would be too difficult, I prepared it in English and the older kids translated it into German. In the letter the actor (I wanted them to know this word in English) introduced himself, told Shakespeare he loved his plays (another word I wanted them to know) and asked if Mr. Shakespeare could write a play on…. here, of course purely accidentally, the letter had been smudged. So we asked the kids for their ideas – and we got nearly everything that might be contained in a good Shakespeare play: life, death, romance, boys, and revenge…

To finish off the preparation part we played a round of “Runaround” (in German) with some relatively easy questions focusing on the Elizabethan era. And indeed – nearly all chose always the right field… Okay, maybe the ones who were unsure just followed their group instinct ;-)

Time travel!

After a small reward for everyone, it was now time for a break and indeed the kids were getting a bit fidgety already and I was worrying if they’d be doing ok for the rest of the workshop. Though some would have liked to continue running around, after 10 minutes everyone was lined up again, to start the time-travel. To introduce a bit more mystery, we used a darkened corridor and unofficial staircase in the building and climbed up to the first floor, where I’d set up the “time machine” (just a square of chairs) and I told them to sit down and concentrate. Now I had to change really quickly into Elizabethan costume and for this matter I’d recorded a sound collage as a time-travel “countdown”, ending with a few notes of “Greensleeves”. While I was still changing, my assistant entered, already in Elizabethan costume, sweeping the floor, singing Greensleeves herself. Her task was to “discover” the kids and wonder who they were – in English! For she was now playing an Elizabethan woman working as a cleaning lady at the Globe Theatre. (My intention had been also to project a big picture of the Globe’s interior to the wall, which would have been nice, but for some reason it didn’t work.) Anyhow, I entered next, playing a maid of the queen, sent to make sure that the theatre was ready for her majesty’s visit that evening (this bit was inspired by Susan Cooper’s King of Shadows). We talked in English for a bit, hoping that the older kids would understand and that the supervisors would translate for the little ones. Anne and Nell (our characters) discussed how apparently all the actors (and Shakespeare) had disappeared and that instead a group of weirdly dressed kids had arrived in the theatre. We asked the kids where they came from and (and here we weren’t sure if it would work) they indeed answered that they came from Germany (and from the future!). So we played a bit of question and answer in English and then (for the sake of the younger children), one of us remembered a “magic amulet” that would let the wearer understand all languages. Once we had our amulets, we could switch back to German… We established that apparently the actors had disappeared (maybe changed places with the kids?) and that we needed the kids’ help to finish the play that was scheduled for tonight. After all, the queen was planning to attend! Unfortunately, we didn’t have a clue what the play was going to be about. However… as the actors had apparently left quite suddenly, there were a number of props lying around “on stage” and I “discovered” a props list (in English of course) which the kids were given to read aloud and find the corresponding objects. Based on these objects, we asked them to guess what kind of play this could have been. Even though the objects were not particularly specific (some roses, a basket, a letter, a golden frog, some cups, a crown…) they first suggested actual Shakespeare plays! I must say I was surprised. After we’d told them that this could not be any of the plays they knew, they (especially the older girls) suggested a number of more or less complex stories involving all the objects. (Maybe, if I do this again, I have to reduce the number?) I should have made notes because my intention was to take the best ideas and form one new story, but somehow I forgot and had to improvise. Since we were a bit short of time, I now assigned scenes telling this newly invented story and the kids were cast as actors. Of course, costumes had to be involved and once they were all dressed, we rehearsed the scenes with me as a narrator. The idea was that in their roles they could only speak English or use mime because their audience would not speak any German. This worked quite ok actually, the older girls were up to the task and the others mostly just mimed. After we’d done it once, I was ready to stop (because they had to go to lunch in time) but the kids wanted to “perform” it once properly, so we did one more and then finished saying that the queen would surely be pleased. If we’d had more time, we could have made more of this idea – actually bringing in someone to act as the queen… But due to lunchtime the kids now had to hurry back to their time machine and go back to the 21st century…


Duologues (for women) II

As I was recently preparing another theatre workshop for students at Tübingen University, I was looking for some more scenes for 2 women – or scenes that would work with a “gender-flexible” cast. I had 19 students on my participants’ list and 15 of them were female! So, in addition to the ones I use regularly, I found a few more that worked in this context.

The Cripple of Inishmaan (scene 1 and/or scene 5): 2 f
The scene features Kate and Eileen, 2 elderly shop-owners on a small Irish island. In both scenes they worry about their nephew Billy coming home late, a lot of the comic potential, especially in scene 1 derives from Kate and Eileen switching between worrying about Billy and insulting him.

Othello, act III, scene 4 (starting from “How goes it now? He looks gentler than he did.”): 2 f
Desdemona gets ready for bed, aided by Emilia and has premonitions that she might die soon. Emilia tries to distract her from her worries. Potential difficulty: the scene contains the “willow song”, which should be sung by Desdemona. We tried it without the song because the actress playing Desdemona was worried about singing but I think the scene loses some of its atmosphere without it. For a Shakespeare scene I think the language is not too difficult, however, for a non-native audience Emilia’s monologue at the end can be hard to understand even though it is highly fascinating (as she explains why a woman might in some cases be justified cheating on her husband).

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (“verbal tennis” scene): 2 m (but I think 2 f would also work)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet’s former school friends, have been sent to find out about Hamlet’s madness. In this scene they try to get their slightly rusty wits working again by playing a game of “verbal tennis”. Comic potential: Guildenstern is usually smarter and faster than Rosencrantz. In the workshop I used a too-long version of this scene but I think a shorter excerpt could work very well. In our case two male students acted the scene but I think it could also work with 2 women. For this scene, which I think can be very funny if done well, the actors should have a rough idea of what “Hamlet” is about and should also have a liking for postmodern, slightly absurd theatre.

IDEA conference, Paris

odeonAll in all I can say that I am glad that I went to the conference even though not everything was quite as I had hoped for. It was my first time at an IDEA conference but let’s just say that I wasn’t so impressed by some of the keynotes and the round tables – a few were interesting and inspiring, but others… but maybe that was a matter of personal taste. Nevertheless, I was and still am quite frustrated that so many interesting workshops and paper presentations were squeezed into half-day programme slots, which meant that there were at least three interesting things going on at the same time during the afternoons, whereas the aforementioned keynotes and round tables were the only events in the mornings with no competition on the schedule – why? (Actually, I can imagine why but anyway…)The other frustrating thing: logistics. Getting from one conference venue to the other took some getting used to (ok, here I got better over time) but finding the right room at Université Paris VII… This building must have been the dream of a sadistic architect… 10 staircases? Hello? A building divided in to A-E sections that can only be reached by the right staircase? Maybe this was all a big psychological experiment or the set for an absurd comedy and I just didn’t notice. Anyway. On to the interesting things.

Looking back it seems that the PhD Day was almost the most rewarding day of all – paper presentations by researchers who were actually interested in the same things as I am and keynotes that were not boring and introduced new concepts. Can’t ask for more, can I? So I learned for instance about Michelle Raquel’s research on full-scale productions as environments for L2-learning, about Raphaelle Beecroft’s project to use improvisation in secondary EFL classrooms, about how Anne-Laure Dubrac used excerpts from Twelve Angry Men in a language class with law students. There was more – reaching from research on primary English learners in Hong Kong to adult learners in Switzerland and it was great to see that language teaching through drama seems to be a popular research area right now. I probably still missed a number of interesting presentations but at least I had the impression of a profitable day.

And then, in the evening, there was the opening ceremony, but I’d rather forget about that. I’m aware that it is important to have public advocacy for drama but maybe I’d have skipped the speeches if I’d realised how long 3 hours in a hot theatre can be… Anyhow, on the positive side, I will probably experience more empathy for my audiences from now on 😉

Tuesday I went to the plenary events in the morning, marvelled at the plushy interior of the Odeon Theatre and almost missed the first session of the afternoon because the morning event took longer and I still had to figure out how to get from one place to the other. And then I couldn’t find the workshop I had signed up for… The next day I learned that it had been cancelled. Oh well. I went and listened to a paper-session instead (which , due to technical problems was only just starting, as I walked in, 20 minutes late) which was not exactly my area (environmental and community education) but better than no programme at all. The second slot was the one reserved for special interest groups (parallel with workshops but this day the ones that interested me had already been full by the time I watned to sign up) and, apparently for the first time, there was a SIG on drama in language teaching. High hopes – meeting people who are interested in the same things as I am! And while the participants and moderators were definitely nice and interesting people and we shared some warm-up activities (which is never a bad thing), I had hoped for something more structured. Maybe that’s just my German mind-set? The SIG met also on the following 3 days and I am really in two minds about it. I guess I was hoping for more discussion about teaching and research questions and while we talked a little about this now and then, I would have wished for more discussion or a long-term view and a little less activity-sharing. But maybe the majority of participants was happy with the SIG as it was.

Wednesday? Alain Berthoz’ keynote lecture on neuroscience and theatre was sure interesting but very densely packed with information… Okay, I’m probably never satisfied – but something in the middle between this and the sometimes a bit superficial round-table presentations would have been great. In the afternoon a workshop on playbuilding and devising by Anne Wessels and Mia Perry – for someone like me who didn’t have a clue about it I think was a good introduction to the topic. Even though there are probably other practioners who would define the two terms differently. After that, again the SIG – see above.

Thursday:It had been proudly announced that for the first time there would be a round table devoted to languages in theatre. But for those who expected anything constructive about language teaching and theatre, it must have been a bit disappointing. There was a lot about translating plays and “hybridisation” – as it had also said in the programme – but in fact there was only one presentation that was actually concerned with teaching languages through drama.

Afternoon: First time slot I listened to a number of paper presentations – one that helped me understand better some of the activity done in the SIG the day before and how their nonverbal focus could still be connected to language learning. Another that seemed very helpful for thinking about teacher education and drama, as it presented a classification of different drama activities and their benefits for language learning as well as a model trying to define what makes drama drama, as opposed to mere role-play for instance (does that make sense? For me it does.) The third paper was about CLIL and drama and their similarities.

Next a workshop on “the Power of the School Production” by a group of Australian drama teachers. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and if it would be useful for me, as I’m not an actual drama teacher but it was nice to pick up some ideas how to keep big groups busy and coordinated in rehearsal. I left a bit early – but only because I didn’t want to miss the SIG completely (which was at the same time) and actually this time there was a discussion in small groups about our interests and concerns… I had missed a reader’s theatre activity but I’m glad I was there for the last half hour.

Friday: The first workshop was about networked theatre productions which I was interested in because… I guess it could be great to do something like this with partner universities. But maybe this is a topic I have to research on my own. The activities we did I might use for warm-up sessions (position yourself on a global map, do a statue of what “home” means, make an iPhone movie…) but all in all it was probably more helpful for actual drama teachers at secondary level. The second workshop was about “timetravellers sharing a Shakespearean moment” and (even though, again, I left early because of parallel events – sory to all facilitators, I did not leave because I didn’t like your workshops but only because there was so much else going on..) it gave me some good inspiration for my holiday workshop scheduled for August. The last SIG session (again I missed half of it) was devoted to a personality test that teachers could do with their learners in order to know about the learning styles they probably favour, which resulted in four colour-coded personality-types… I’m not totally sure about this but it was interesting to see and discuss. Finally, we took a look at a process drama activity which was really good as I have very little experience with this type of drama in education and still find it a little hard to imagine it only reading about it. Okay – that was a week with a full schedule, compressed into 2 pages of print. I didn’t go to any of the evening performances because I was just too tired in the… After all, I can go to the theatre when I’m at home, can’t I? It would certainly have been inspiring to see some actual theatre but it was just too much. You could easily have filled three weeks with the IDEA 2013 programme – but then who has time to attend a three-week conference? And now it wil be three years to the next conference and who knows on which continent it is going to take place. It is likely that I won’t have the chance to go there, so all in all I am glad I attended this one.

Back from the APLIUT conference


Not exactly my namesakes – but close enough… And they sell books! Small wonder I liked the place 😉

I will probably continue to dream in three languages for a few days to come, until all the echoes from the language conference in France have subsided and my brain finishes processing all the new impressions… The slightly babel-istic/babel-ish (is that a word?) state of my brain notwithstanding, I think attending the APLIUT conference in Montpellier was a really good idea. On the one hand because I think that my (at least listening) skills in French have improved – yes, I understood much more than last year in Nantes! Small talk and following some of the workshops was still difficult, though. Yes, interestingly enough, I found the plenary lectures easier to follow than the coffee break conversations. Which has probably a lot to do with the fact that a lecture is delivered at slightly slower pace and normally doesn’t use a lot of colloquial speech… But of course my main reason to go there was not for improving my French (which was a nice side effect) but to talk about drama in language teaching, especially in teaching business English and to my great surprise more people wanted to hear my talk than would fit in the room. Therefore, I was asked if I could give the talk again – they said they were sorry that they’d had to turn away a number of people the first time and there was no other presenter in the room afterwards, so… of course I was happy to oblige. Also, I have never had so many people come to me after a talk and say that they enjoyed it… Maybe it is just conference ettiquette in France to do this? Or maybe I could really give them something that was useful for them. Some questions I have taken with me, which I will think about, such as: Can you do drama activities also with large groups, say 30 or 40 students? Can you do such activities and projects even if you don’t have any experience with theatre? Can you assess your students’ language competence in a drama project/activity? Are there cooperations possible between learner groups/projects in different countries? I’d say yes to all questions and hopefully some future activities/research/projects will result from them. For now, however, I probably need to let everything settle for a bit and see if I can draw some inspiration from this definitely positive experience.

The short summer semester…

And now the semester is almost nearing the end for part of our students – the last weeks have been hectic, so the idea collection and script writing for the Alice project are progressing a bit more slowly right now…and should take up more momentum again towards September.

weeks 4 and 5: writers’ meeting

And then there was Easter and the Easter holidays – so, since most participants were away traveling, we changed the official meeting to a smaller “writers’ meeting” for those who wanted to participate in working on the “Alice” script. We had a productive brainstorming – I cannot really say more at this moment 😉 since for the actual writing we’ll need some more time. Yesterday everyone was back from holidays and I managed to assign roles for the acting workshop, even though it turned out a bit chaotic since not everyone was informed about the available roles even though I had made a summary of the plays and script excerpts available. Well, I hope we will find a suitable role for everyone yet.

Alice project – week 3: job interviews “Sure Thing”-style


“Ding!” – Please start over again! Maybe you shouldn’t have slapped the interviewer on the back?

Have you ever been in a job interview, said something stupid and wished you could start all over again? Do you know David Ives’ brilliant short play “Sure Thing”? Do you know what the first two sentences have to do with each other? In week 3 we improvised some job interviews à la “Sure Thing”!

For those who don’t know Ives’ play: “Sure Thing” tells the story of Bill and Betty, who meet in a café and get acquainted – but not without complications… For whenever one of them says something embarrasing/uninteresting/inappropriate etc. a bell rings in the background and they have to start over again (from the point that went wrong). It’s not that  easy to describe but really hilarious! So on our third meeting we talked a little about job interviews (any experiences? what have you heard or read?). Then came the theatrical part: in small groups the participants prepared a (funny) job interview simulation where, whenever something goes wrong, a bell rings and the interview is reset. As inspiration we then used  a list of job interview questions –  you can find the link in “The Dogme Diaries”  and it’s really a comprehensive list: 100 questions! We had some nice results. One group concentrated more on textual clues like: “What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?” “I can make great coffee!” (bell rings).  Another group concentrated more on the non-verbal aspects: Candidate enters. Two people at a desk look up, look at each other, confused, clearly not expecting this person. Candidate mumbles something like “Sorry, wrong room,” and hurries out. Bell rings. At a further advanced stage their candidate actually managed to enter the room and then by way of greeting slapped the interviewers on the back, as if they were old friends – which of course earned him a bell-chime as well.
The focus with this task was on looking for inspiration for a scene in our yet-to-be-written “Alice”-play but I think this could also be a fun way of practising job interviews, showing “do’s” and the “dont’s” :-)

Shakespeare for kids workshop (part 2: lessons learned)

IMG_0806Lessons learned? As I wrote before I think the activities leading up to the tableaux worked pretty well and I was quite happy with them. Then things went a bit chaotic.

Maybe it would simply have been a matter of taking a break, letting the kids run around for a bit and then resuming work with more concentration instead of hurrying through the tableaux and then finishing early. Okay: first lesson learned – I shouldn’t just plan breaks in theory but actually take breaks at the times I planned them! (And not go on until kids sneak off because they urgently need to go the bathroom…Oops!)

Other issues: my idea that I could put (nearly) all kids in one tableau didn’t quite work because as soon as I started giving instruction to one small group (e.g. the king and his lords) the other groups (Prospero, Ariel, Miranda or Stefano and Trinculo) would break up, start chatting or run off to play.

So what would I do differently if I had a similar workshop with a similar age group?

Definitely explain the idea of tableaux better in the beginning, and explain the whole process. Label an area the “stage” and put tape marks on the floor it or mark it otherwise. Assign an area as auditorium, with chairs to sit down on. Mark an area as changing area/props table. Talk about theatre rules before I start: 1. no running around on the “stage” 2. when you’re not needed, you can sit down and watch or when you’re not needed for a longer time go to a different room/area and play there.

Give them more time to develop their scene. Let them act it out if they want. Then they should find a moment they want to conserve as a tableau. Then they can form their tableau and I can take a picture (I got some pictures this time but all in a hurry). This, however, requires that the other kids, who are not in the scene, are either old enough to sit and watch or that someone takes care of them in the meantime. So maybe provide tasks for in between? (Painting etc.?) Or ask the carers if they can play with them in the meantime.

But how do I deal with the problem that 4 kids want to play the princess but nobody wants to play a courtier? My solution was to switch roles after each scene but I’m not sure if that is the best idea because it makes it hard to do character work if roles are switched so often…

Shakespeare for kids – workshop (part 1)

Drama suitcase packed for re-telling "The Tempest"

Drama suitcase packed for re-telling “The Tempest”

Yesterday I had the chance to do an afternoon workshop with a group of 6-11 year olds, which was part of a holiday programme my university put together for the kids of their employees (“Campusferien”). They are looked after by three students and there is a different activity on each of the four days the programme covers. So I was day 1 “English theatre”. There were 17 kids, from grade 1 to grade 6 and one special needs kid who was slightly older. My plan was to re-tell “The Tempest” with them – which sounds ambitious, given the fact that German children at primary school don’t have that much English yet. They learn it from grade 1, but my impression is that the results are very diverse, probably depending a great deal on the teacher. So my plan was to introduce important words first, then tell them the story in English (with translations if necessary) and then let them re-enact it through tableaux. The first part went really well, I think. We played the “this is a…!” “This is a what?”-game with some props from my drama suitcase (ship, island, wand, crown, tray, bottle, fool’s cap (though the fool’s cap turned into a “warm cap” on the way round the circle….)). Then I had the align word-cards and objects, which worked fine. I asked them what kind of story these objects could be about and there were lots of ideas – in German of course – most of them involving a king, magic and messages in a bottle. I then told them that I would tell them a story that they would later act in and who the characters in the story were and showed them the word-cards: a king, a prince, a girl, a magician, a monster, servants, a spirit, a fool (or clown), an old man, and some bad guys. Next we played a round of “show me..” (a king, etc.) which went well, except that they didn’t quite get the idea of statues because they started walking towards me until I said “Freeze!” every time. Then we talked about emotion-words of which they (the older kids) knew quite a few even though nobody came up with “afraid” or “surprised” and then did a short emotion-walk (I’d put posters with the main emotions on the floor and they were to walk across them showing the feeling). At which point they became a bit wild but when we called them back to the circle to sit down again and listen to the story, it was ok. (I wanted to take a break here and should have but didn’t.) Then I started telling the story, having a list of characters in the background (and one of the caretakers pointed them out), the objects on the floor and always asking after a sentence or two what they understood. The older kids seemed to do pretty well, so I let them translate – for the younger ones. However, there was one 6-year old who said she didn’t understand anything… After half the story kids starting sneaking off – to the toilet, so we just took a break. After a few minutes, I finished my story and asked them if they knew it – they didn’t and I told them that it was by William Shakespeare. Most of them had heard of him already 😉 Now came the really theatrical part which was the one that worked least well. I handed out costumes and assigned roles and the idea was to re-create the story through tableaux. The problem was that I could only talk to 3-4 kids at a time and explain them the scene, while the rest was running around and sometimes the “actors” I needed joined them without noticing that it was their turn… So the re-enactment got a bit hurried and I finished earlier than I thought but concentration seemed to have vanished, so I called it a day. The students taking care of the kids said it was ok and I think they had enough things to do in playtime, so we packed up and I said goodbye to kids and students. While I was happy about how smoothly the first part went, there are surely some lessons to be learned from the slightly chaotic second part of the workshop! Such as…? That’s for the second part of this post!

Week 2 – “more action”

There is always a bit of fluctuation at the start of the course but so far it wasn’t too bad – 2 new students and 3 missing but of those 2 will probably return, so only 1 is unaccounted for. I asked their expectations for this time and there were some who said they hoped for some more “action” and group-work, which was exactly what I had in mind for this meeting. So we played a warm-up game of ‘instant tableaux’ and then returned to voice for a bit. First task was sentence in a circle, so same sentence but everyone tries to express a different emotion with their voice, then the tried-and-tested context-open dialogues in pairs. Which worked quite well – one group did as many as 3 variations and I think they realised how, by varying the vocal qualities you can create totally different associations for the same dialogue (e.g. 2 people trying to get rid of a corpse / a couple arguing about who has to carry the shopping). Next I wanted to introduce the scenes I’m planning for our acting workshop, so 2 people each could pick a text and their task was to read it aloud to themselves. What they didn’t know yet was the second part of the task 😉  because after they were through with reading they had to get together with a second group and exchange summaries of their scenes. Group A then had to perform group B’s scene and vice versa. Which worked surprisingly well for some while some had trouble remembering – but those last were the groups who got a Shakespeare scene summary…. I didn’t have much time left to work on the Alice-part of the project but I’m planning to concentrate more on that next week.