This week I have been working with IB Theatre students in Stratford at TaPS (Theatre and Performance Symposium) for ISTA (The International Schools Theatre Association). I had a group of 23 students that were a huge range of nationalities, ability and knowledge. As a result the work I do with them aims to equip them with skills that they can immediately apply in the ensemble session, and take back to use in their own work at school.
During the three day event we went to see several plays and also worked in the Director’s notebook and Collaborative Project. One of my goals was to enable the students to see images in the work they viewed, but also to be able to explore how to create and use images in their own processes as a director, creator, performer, spectator and designer.
The process I walked them through was as a introduction to one of the many themes on King Lear. The idea came from the Education pack for King Lear, created by the RSC. I then took the simple exercise in the pack and developed it to link more to the needs of the IB Theatre course.
This is what I did:
Hand out A4 pieces of black paper so that each student has one page each
- Tell them to find a coloured pen or pencil
- Ask them to think about a moment in their lives when something significant has happened that has changed the events that came after. This moment can be a huge life changing moment (moving school, changing appearance, death of a loved one, finding/meeting a new friend or loved one, finding a passion), or it can be something small that happened (receiving a phone call, getting lost, helping someone) but as a result they changed their perspective, behaviour etc on life.
- Once they have their moment ask them to draw the moment without words. They can use abstract shapes and lines to show emotions, can draw locations, can have people, expressions faces – leave it up to them. They need to be spontaneous and not worry about their artistic skills.
- Once they have their drawing tell them that they are going to explain their moment using the image as a guide. They can explain what is in the image, but it is more important that they explain the moment using their image as a support.
- Tell them to find a partner and tell them about their moment – they have 1 minute
- Tell them to find another partner and tell them about their moment – they have 1 minute. This time tell them to be aware of what they choose to tell, and think about why they choose to tell those details specifically.
- Tell them to find a partner and tell them about their moment – they have 1 minute. This time tell them to really focus on their use of vocabulary in terms of imagery, emotions and what drives the moment forward.
- Tell them to find a partner. This time they are going to tell their partner about the moment, but then the partner is going to look at their image, and explain what they think is in the image and what it represents – they have 2 minutes.
- Tell them to find their final partner. This time they are going to briefly discuss what can be communicated through images and how, relating to their own images and the ones they have seen – they have 1 minute
- Ask the students to put their images out as a gallery, so that all the images can be viewed, and they can see the variety of ways we can communicate through images
Close the session by taking about what needs to accompany the images to enable them to be more clearly understood. Also discuss how they can use images in their own work.