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Dramatic Insight – Play Writing Workshops for Schools

“It takes me two years to write a play, let’s write yours in two hours.”
This is Chris’s challenge to the students in his workshops
– which they love!

The primary objective of the workshops is to involve all the children in the class in the project, to give them ownership and control but above all else, to instil confidence, to show them that they can, through their individual efforts and by being a member of a team, create, produce and perform their own piece of stimulating theatre.

Privileged access initiatives are also available at no extra cost to compliment the workshops. These include theatre visits and backstage tours, meet-the-actor sessions, watching rehearsals and hands-on experience with various aspects of production such as technical, set and costume design, stage management and front of house. Work experience placements are also available.

The workshops have been enjoyed by children from year 1 to year 6 and at secondary and college level.

The workshops are timed to last two hours but can be longer or shorter to suit timetables. Subsequent sessions are available on return visits which study particular aspects such as characterisation, plotting, dialogue, story, direction, acting, technical and effects, hot seating etc., in more detail.

This is a typical 2 hour workshop format:

1. Introduction to the world of professional theatre, what it is, what happens there, how you
get into it.

2. My story. Why I got interested, what barriers there were, how I broke those down.

3. The challenge: We write a play, (the story of which comes from a child in the class), in 2 hours. By the end of the session we will have written, performed and filmed on the school camera, (if permissible), the first scene of the play.

4. What makes up a play? The children are taken through the various components of the writing, production, performance and post-performance processes.

5. The story: The children sit down in their own space for 20 minutes. Classical music plays whilst they are encouraged to think of a story and write it down. At the end of this session the stories are discussed and the class vote for their favourite. This is carried forward to be the story for the play.

6. Roles: Chris with the writer then steers the next session. The production and performance roles are discussed in more detail, including directors, actors, casting, stage design, technical, light and sound, costume, music, critics and filming. The children are asked to choose a role and common groups of these are formed.

7. Production: Guided by the writer and Chris, the new production team plan their work. Directors are chosen and meet and the team is assembled. The stage is designed, characters refined and cast, the scene written, dialogue created and edited, costumes designed, lighting and sound effects planned. Then the work is rehearsed ahead of the performance which is filmed by a class member and made available for the school website if this is permissible.

8. Class members are selected to be critics and together with the audience, they feedback to the director, cast and members of the production team. They identify strengths, weaknesses and areas for possible improvement.

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