Session 1 – Wednesday 22nd Jan 2014
My first week in the 2014 Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown Artist-in-Schools programme and my residency is at Mount Anville Primary School working with Miss Lawlor’s 6th Class. I’m a little bit nervous. What will the girls be like? Will they be interested in Writing for Peformance – creating scripts and performing them? Not everyone is interested in creative arts, but I do know that the skills involved in making stories and communicating them effectively are valuable in all areas of life. Anyway, I needn’t have worried. The class are very welcoming. They are open and attentive, if a little nervous (we were all nervous it seems!).
I am a playwright and theatre-maker, so I wanted to start off by introducing myself to the children through my work. I brought in images of some of the more unusual theatre pieces I’ve made and explained that for me the audience’s relationship to the performance – their agreement to “suspend their disbelief” and share in a live experience – is very important.
Scenes from Toxic and Play About My Dad by Michelle Read
We then jumped straight into a creative exercise. Working with logic and imagination the girls created two parallel story ideas from a basic scenario. We used the “building bricks” of drama i.e. questions – who, where, when, what, how and very importantly, why – to figure out who the characters were, what they wanted and why they wanted it.
The basic scenario – two characters plan to steal something – is open to wide interpretation but does contain a dramatic action. Working from this starting point the class “brainstormed” various options and came up with two really interesting and very different ideas.
In Story 1, Ruth and Yvette are two eleven year-old school friends. Another friend of Ruth’s has borrowed her bracelet, but refuses to give it back. Yvette is annoyed on Ruth’s behalf and hatches a plan for herself and Ruth to break into the friend’s house during school time and steal back the bracelet.
In Story 2, Ruth is the nine year-old granddaughter of 85 year-old Yvette. Yvette has a life-long dream to visit Alaska, but as there are no charter flights, and as she can fly herself, she persuades Ruth to help her steal a plane from the airport in order to make her trip.
Both story ideas contain huge potential for drama as well as interesting moral dilemmas and the possibility of suspense and adventure. I was very excited by both these ideas as they contain the key ingredients of challenging and entertaining drama.