Great news! I have a drama group! Within two weeks we had eight people calling the centre saying they were interested in the workshops, and it was likely that we would get a few more. However, as the numbers mounted up, the more diverse the group became. When I got the final names of the group, the age range was phenomenal… 18 to 77!!! And if that wasn’t diverse enough, there were 3 men and 8 women! This certainly came as a surprise, for some reason I was only expecting women and for them to be only of a certain age. I have no idea why I thought that, I suppose it was just presumption. Presumption is the mother of all what now??!!! Nevertheless, this didn’t scare me. I was determined to make this an enjoyable and enriching experience for all to enjoy, regardless of age, gender or experience! I had already advertised an initial meeting to meet the group and see what they were all like etc, so now it was time to prepare!
I felt like I needed to speak to Mark and pass my ideas with him before I met with my group. I had read most of the research that I had already brought together, however I was struggling to find good games and exercises to do with the group. Also I wasn’t sure how to structure the six weeks... I was thinking of breaking up the two-hour sessions: one hour of games then onto one hour of monologue development. This way it allows the group to get relaxed every week before we move onto to slightly heavier concepts. When I went to see Mark he seemed pleased with what I had achieved and mentioned a few books and exercises that may of help. One book he stressed that would be a great help was ‘Games for Actors and Non Actors’ by Augusto Boal. We had read about this practitioner within drama before (I remember reading about Theatre of the Oppressed in 1st year). He explained there was a wide range of games within the book that are great for non-actors as well as professionals. He also gave me a few good exercises that may be good for monologue development later on in the workshops. When explaining about the worry I had about structure, he thought it would be worth while to actually split the six weeks into two, then have 3 weeks of fun and games, moving onto 3 weeks of monologue development. What I thought was best was to read up on the games and exercises available, meet the group and then work out what would be best for the class.
Moving on from this meeting, I decided to get my head stuck into the books that I had got and perhaps look on the internet to see whether people have posted things they had done for drama workshops before. Previous to finding out I would have males in the group, I bought two ‘Monologues for Female Actors’ books, to give me some stimuli to work upon and use as maybe base texts within the workshops. Reading these, there was a nice range of different extracts, and I hope to use these in the future of the workshops. After reading the majority of the Boal book, I gathered a range of games I could use for the workshops, and then chose a few I could use for the first one.
The initial meeting went really well, and everyone who came to participate was great. A few were quite anxious as to what we would be doing over the next few weeks, so I took this time to introduce myself and the other members of the group, asking them what drama experience they had, if any, and any questions they had. Most of them had never done drama before, and a few of them had touched upon a few small productions years ago. Obviously from where these workshops were being held, a few members had low mobility and found it difficult to move around the space, so this was something I had to take into consideration. I asked the group how they would prefer the workshops to be structured, and they all agrees that they would like to have games and exercises every week, so this is what I would do.
Jumping forward a few weeks, and I am in the seminar room preparing for my first workshop. After a LOT of planning and juggling around the structure of the workshop, I had decided to split the 1st week into 3 sections; introductory games, observation exercises and touch upon emotion memory. I wrote out on a flip chart the objectives of the workshop, followed by what we were going to do and the middle of a mind map to work from later on in the workshop.
The objectives I set were split into two parts:
- For everyone to know everyone else’s names
- To feel relaxed within the space
- Introduce and exercise the concept of “play”
- Have fun!
- To introduce the idea of awareness, the self and it’s surroundings
- Awakening the senses and dormant behaviour
- Reconnecting with memory – introducing emotion memory
- Perception of ourselves
The workshop overall went very well, the games I used were simple, yet got everyone moving, talking and laughing! The observation exercises got everyone thinking and opening their eyes to things they may not have noticed before. The memory exercise seemed to go down very well. I had asked them all to take note of what they were doing the day before the 1st workshop at the initial meeting, then by asking lots of detailed questions, asked them what they did the day before. From there I got everyone to get into groups of 3 and in 2-3 minutes, tell the others in details what they had done. I walked around the space to see what they were saying and they were going into lots of detail! After everyone had told their stories, everyone got back into a circle and I asked individuals to tell another’s persons story. After a few people had done this, I then asked them to tell the story as if it was the most exciting day of their lives, then the most sad, the most scary etc. This gave us an opportunity to start playing with acting but still keeping it really casual. Before we knew it the two hours were up!
The group was a lot more relaxed than I thought they would be, and were very eager to start the session. As I had planned so much for us to do, we weren’t stuck for games and exercises. Everyone got involved and (I hope) enjoyed themselves!!! I think the flip chart helped everyone understand why we were doing certain things, and I asked people to tell me what the importance of certain exercises were, and putting them on the mind maps. For the first week, I think it went pretty well!!
I took note of things to take into consideration for next week, (which is tomorrow!):
- Introduce some form of acting, I found most members of the group were ready to look at this type of thing
- I have an 18 year old lad in the group and I feel he may get a little bored with some of the activities I am setting. There are a few people who find it difficult to move around the in space, however I am going to try and expand the exercises with more depth, and this may be through more acting.
- I am getting a little worried I am not going to have enough exciting and appropiate games and exercises for the whole 6 weeks, but as I said before, this may be made easier by doing more in depth acting exercises.
- One major concern that I have to be really careful of is that the sessions don’t turn into Drama Therapy. Its really easy for the conversations to turn to people’s illnesses and what they are currently going through, and I am trying to avoid the group becoming a support group. There are ways the group can help people interacting, socialising and having fun, however as I am not a professional therapist, this is potentially dangerous territory. Nevertheless, as soon as the group may start to talk to about these things, I am diverting the attention to the exercise at hand!
So, for tomorrow, the idea is to use what we did last time and go into more depth, as well as introducing other new ideas too. They enjoyed the memory exercises so I am going to do more on emotion memory and observation. Plenty more games will be played, and I want to expand their playfulness a little more!! So lots of make pretend! Then I will focus on monologues to give them a structure of what a monologue could be like, then perhaps set a task for the following week. We shall see how it goes!! Going to do a little more reading this afternoon and get myself all prepared for tomorrow afternoon!