MET 2015 with Playwright Michelle Read – Session 6 – Thursday 5th March

This week we started off by looking at directing. This is very important role in the theatre – the director is the outside eye, who stands in for the audience and makes sure what the actors are doing makes sense and can be seen and heard.

To approach this, the children worked in small groups on a short scene for two or three characters. One person in the group was nominated as director and had to make decisions, alongside the actors, about how the characters would behave and what they would do – ie what their actions would be. We had a nervous character and a grumpy character, but half way through the scene the grumpy character had to suddenly become super polite. What was really interesting was seeing how each group worked (quite differently) on the same scene and what details they added.

Short Play 2 Rehearsal 1

Afterwards, most of the directors said it was quite hard work and they would have liked to be actors. However, most of the actors said they really liked having a director. Interesting. A couple of the directors said they actually preferred being a director and enjoyed working alongside the actors to make the piece better.

I suggested that as we continue to make work, it would be a good idea to take it in turns to direct the scenes. This is not always the most fun role, but it can make a big difference to how the scene turns out. I think there are definitely a couple of directors in the room.

Next, the class was put into five groups, so they were working in larger groups again, which meant a higher level of collaboration – not always easy. My friend, actor and director Gene Rooney, created a play outline for children and teenagers some time ago called The Bad School Report, which I was keen to try out with the group. The play is a structured outline – it shows five distinct scenes, which characters appear in those scenes and what action occurs. However, it is up to the group to figure out the details of the play – why has the pupil got a bad school report, the impact is has on them, and what do they reveal to their best friend at the end?

We only had a short while to start work on this, so we will return to it next week.

This Session – Introducing directing. Introducing working with a script. Working collaboratively to devise a play around a structured idea.

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