Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Workshop 5... It's Assessment Time!

So after a rocky 4th workshop, I decided it was wise and best for everyone if we stick to the safe structure that we had been following throughout the course and carry on with plenty of games and warm-ups, followed by improvisation and devised small performances.

By this point, I have rung dry all of the resources I have been using (we have played over 40 games in 4 sessions!) and was getting quite worried as these games had been so successful. However, Mr. Google aided me to find even more brilliant and exciting games and exercises to carry on with. I found out that I was going to get assessed this week, but I wasn't sure who by. I'm going to be honest, I was very anxious and annoyed that I wasn't going to be assessed by someone who a) hasn't taught me before, and b) I had never met before. I have put so much hard work and passion into this project and was so worried that whoever came to watch me wasn't going to both recognise my efforts and see how much the workshops are benefiting the people involved.

The objectives I set for this week's workshop were:
  • Focus upon the following elements of drama and performance that we have introduced and developed: (I then drew a mind map and asked everyone what elements they believed we had worked on) which included imagination, concentration, communication, voice projection, delivery, body and audience awareness etc.
  • Explore Improvisation using "motivation", "climax" and quick thinking.

I had a lovely surprise when I arrived at the centre to see that a boy that had come to the 1st workshop but had been unable to attend the rest, had come to join us again. He is much younger than everyone else and I was worried that because of this he wouldn't come again, but he was really excited to catch up on what he had missed and get stuck in with the fun.

We started the workshops as we always do by discussing what we had done the week before and getting everyone thinking about what we have actually achieved over the previous weeks. As we began to start the games, I thought it might be nice for Matt (who came to assess me) to get involved. The group were more than happy for him to do so! We played with rhythm, impulse thinking and voice projection to start with, and one of the games was called 'You', where we sat in a circle and one by one pointed at someone and said 'you'. This person had to do the same to someone else a bit louder and more gesture. This carried on getting louder and louder with more and more gestures and movement. It turned into somewhat of a slanging match with the louder it got, the more vicious and angry they became, which was so amusing to watch!

Another game that they loved with 'Yes, lets!" We had the theme of getting ready for a party and everyone got so into it. We were all running around like 6 year-olds and were knackered afterwards!!

Moving onto the performance section, I got everyone into pairs and gave them a line each they had to say, which they had to make up a situation they could have said them. For example, one of them was, A: "Stop It!" and B says: "Make Me!". They all came up with brilliant unique situations and you could see their improvements from how fast they were thinking of them. I was giving them a minute and a half, and they were ready in 30-40 seconds! One particular pair that were brilliant involved one man (who is 77) and a woman. For these lines, the man started jumping around with his hands up in the air like a child while the woman tickled him!

Before they started this exercise, I began to explain that I wanted them to consider the motivation of the character they were playing in order for them to really push their performance. Also, I said I wanted to see a 'climax', or a pivotal point in which the two motivated forces collide. When allowed to get on with it, I went round to each group and made sure they understood exactly what I meant. These rules applied to the next exercise too, and the difference in the standard of work they were producing was amazing. What I had been worrying about the past weeks trying to get them to devise more solid performances was banished just by introducing these simple ideas. Some were so inventive in their climaxes, they had Matt taking a cameo role as an Alien!

This week went so well, and just flowed so naturally. I think its safe to say the group are so comfortable with each other now and really enjoying what they are doing. They are taking risks and being ever so creative with both games and exercises. They are willing to do anything for fun and this makes the workshops so easy and fun to lead. Its a shame they're coming to an end!

It was obvious that this format was what the group needed and would be staying for the remainder of the course. I agreed with them that for the 'performance day', we will play everyone's favourite games and exercises, and whoever wants to perform can do so. I have said that they may invite whoever they wish to come and see what we have been doing, (I know quite a few people around the centre, families and friends have been interested) and they can bring food and drink too.

Just before we finished the session, one of the men asked if we could all have a photo together. Matt kindly agreed to take the photo and we all sat on the wall outside in the sunshine. I asked him why he wanted the photo so urgently and he said his doctor wanted to see it. A bit puzzled, I asked him why. He told me that since he had been visiting the Mulberry Centre his health had improved dramatically, (in his words, before he came here, he was 'almost dead'), and his doctor couldn't believe his transformation. This just proves that it isn't just drugs and surgery that help someone to get better, their well being is equally important. And if we can help someone revive their happiness and health through drama and laughter, there is a happy home for it at The Mulberry Centre.

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