Dalkey Project School 6th Class – Playwriting – Artist – Michelle Read

Session 6

26th February 2013

This felt like a transition session between making the Red Riding Hood plays (and showing the children some of the different elements of page to stage), and then starting work on the children’s own, original plays.

I realised I hadn’t properly introduced my own practice, so inspired by one of the other blogs here, I started this session with a slide show about some of the more unusual shows I’ve made; an autobiographical performance in the round, set in a living room with projections, a site-specific play in an apartment with sound installations in the furniture, and a large-scale show for eighteen actors with lots of different locations and two puppet dogs. This sparked a conversation about the different conventions in the theatre such as asides and characters being played by two actors to show them at different ages. We also touched on the audience’s agreement to enter into these conventions and “suspend their disbelief”, which is different from films or TV.

This discussion linked us back into talking about the children’s work and I became a bit of a roving reporter getting vox-pop feedback with my audio recorder. I asked the children what they had liked about working on the Riding Hood plays and also what they had found hard.

Here are some of their comments. (I couldn’t upload the audio file!)

‘It was really fun for a first experience of being a playwright.’

‘It was good. I liked it and it was fun.’

‘It was hard on agreeing ideas.’

‘Listening to everyone’s ideas is the first bit, but we all got to write our own scenes, so that is one way you get to do something yourself.’

‘I liked it when it all came together and we performed it.’

‘There was a hard bit where we had to change it a lot while we were rehearsing it.’

‘We only really wrote three of our six scenes, so we had to improvise it… but it was really fun.’

It was then time to change it up. So Miss D’Arcy switched the groups around and we started the process of developing original ideas. Each child in each group wrote down any ideas they had for a story, a character, a place, or a thing a person might want.

Louis mind-mapped a great idea around a zombie apocalypse. Layla had a story about three archaeologists in search of a pharaoh’s crown and Luca thought of a character who was being bullied ‘really badly’ and took up karate in order to challenge his bullies (and this was just half of one group).

Everyone then gave written feedback on each other’s ideas and began to discuss which they thought would work well as a play to be performed by themselves in a few weeks time. They also discussed whether they could combine some elements of the different ideas.

Next week we’ll try to get some story decisions and have a look at the main character!

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