Monday, 11 May 2009

Workshops 3 & 4... Time to realise what we're here for.

Good Afternoon Bloggers! I hope everyones projects are going well now we are edging so close to the end!!

I have had an absolutely mad few weeks to say the least what with all my 30 credit modules (I did 3 of them!!) assessments in one after the other, however my community project has still been going on every Friday afternoon. Its actually been a lovely break from the dark and stuffy mac rooms to get out in the sunshine and play, laugh and have fun in the workshops!

After a tough following, workshop 3 went swimmingly too. We concentrated on 'body awareness' this week, getting everyone up and moving. Our objectives were:

  • To reintroduce old and new members (some had been away so had not met the new member from the following week)
  • Introduce the concept of 'body awareness' and how this affects our audience
  • Learn how using our bodies can project just as much as dialogue
  • Express our creativity through actions
  • Develop idea of 'improvisation'
  • Look to develop work through depth and movement

We started the session with a few exercises that we have played in Uni such as 'You are walking through...', where you pretend you are walking through something that makes you walk a certain way e.g. 'You are walking through sticky mud', and 'Group Shapes', where we had to get ourselves into a shape that could be seen from an aerial view, e.g. 'a diamond'. I have one person in my group that really struggles to walk around, let alone play these type of games, so I set him the task of Host, where he had to call out the commands. I started him off with a few examples then asked him to make up the rest. After we had finished the games, as well as asking the group how they felt about it, I asked the person who had been Host how it looked and whether we could have done anything better. He felt very confident to give feedback and thanked me for giving him this role.

After a few more similar games like this, we went onto to play 'The Lost Key'. the game involves a very simple plot to be acted out twice, once in a very naturalistic manner, what Stanislavski calls acting "in general" (artificial acting), and perform it again using mime in a very melodramatic manner. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun with this task, and there were lots of laughs to be heard throughout. When watching the performances, it was easy to see that some people took to mime very well and some saw it as only taking away dialogue. However, when asking afterwards which type of performance they preferred, one or two did say they enjoyed the mime more. So from now on, I will say that with whatever they are devising that they may using whichever genre they prefer.

One last game that went particularly well was called 'Picture Prompt', where I gave all of them the same picture of three people (see above). They then had to discuss what they believed was going on at the time the picture we taken and to re-enact it. One particular group were very good, they took on the characters as well as the situation, talking with mock italian accents and using plenty of gesture and projection. Everyone enjoyed watching it and they want to present this again in the last week!

After the workshop, I stayed and had a cup of tea with some of the group members. They were asking me all about University and how I got into drama etc, and one of the ladies said, "I would never had dreamed of coming to a workshop like this before, however Cancer has made me do things I never thought I'd do. I push myself to do everything now and really enjoy myself!" This just showed me how much these workshops have given to this community and how much good it does them. For them two hours a week, the workshops have given them the space to leave their worries at the door and hopefully for a short time forget where they are and just enjoy themselves.

Overall a very good week! The following week I wanted to move on from this, and I had planned to use most of the session time to focus upon coming up with solid ideas for a more in depth performance that we could work on and perform in the last week.

So, onto workshop 4, where the objectives were:
(which by the way, not sure if I have mentioned it before, I put these objectives up on a flip chart before every workshop and go through them before we start the workshop)

  • Introduce the importance of voice projection
  • Incorporate 'the voice' within our performing
  • Begin to build structured performances
  • Use stimuli to help encourage imagination
  • Have some fun in the sun!
We started this workshop by doing a few voice exercises, including warm ups (ahhhh, eeeee, oooooo, mmmmm, ssssss etc), gradually getting louder then softer etc. Then we developed this by talking in pairs whilst walking away from each other, projecting our voices more as we move away. I explained to the group about places like The Globe Theatre and how the actors had to be able to project their voices in order for the audience to hear them.

I then asked them to choose an advert from a page I had given them from the yellow pages and, with everyones else's eyes shut, read the advert to the group, making it as interesting as possible. From here, everyone got into groups and chose their favourite. I asked them to make a one minute advert that visualises the words and really sells the company or business. Everyone works really hard on this and came up with some really good ideas. The centre has a beautiful garden and as it was a lovely sunny day, the groups practiced and performed outside! One man was really convincing as a doctor and actually made us all want to visit a cosmetic surgery for one his his consultations (and even told some of the audience they could do with a little face lift!)!

During the second half of the workshop I asked everyone to get into two groups and, with the help of the stimuli I had placed onto the floor, to come up with an idea for a 5 minute piece. It took a while for everyone to think of something, so i went round to both groups and tried to help them by asking them questions about the items, e.g. "Where is that necklace from?", "Who are them people in that picture?" By using improvisation and hot-seating, it became easier for the groups to come up with ideas. After 15 minutes or so, the groups had come up with an idea. One group were using a pearl necklace as a object of 'desire', a piece of drama about two love affairs in paris. The other group were using a small pot off honey as a means for change with 3 character's lives. 

However good these ideas were, some members of the group were a little worried about missing out on developing the ideas as there is usually at least one workshop that they cannot attend. This then halted the idea of getting these performances ready to perform at the 'performance day' and made me think on my feet to how to move on from this week. We ended the workshop by showing what we had already come up with and gave me plenty to work on for the following week; what we were going to do for the remainder of the workshops and what we could do for our 'performance day'.

I looked back on what we had done over the past few weeks, and what people enjoyed the most. One thing I have learnt by leading these workshops is how much everyone has enjoyed playing and creating small pieces of theatre to show to the group, and generally having a good time, and this made me reevaluate my purpose and drive for this project. 

I think I had been too worried about what we were going to have to show for ourselves, and not reflecting on what we had already achieved. These people are having so much fun and laughs, surely that what drama is all about? Just because we don't have structured, professional performances, doesn't mean we haven't been successful in our journey. This group have made a phenomenal transformation already, you would think they have been performing in front of people for years! Their confidence and imagination has soared, and they come every week to enjoy themselves... For me, I couldn't wish for anything more. So, that is exactly what we shall do, carry on with plenty of games and exercises and just enjoy ourselves!

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