MET 2015 with Playwright Michelle Read – Session 16 – Tuesday 26th May

This morning there was a definite buzz of excitement when I came into the classroom. The children had brought in some great props and costume for their scenes and so we got straight back into rehearsals. This was complicated a little bit because some people from yesterday were away and some people who had been away were back! However, the children were very good at accommodating any changes and after around half an hour of rehearsal and re-rehearsal we started the performances.

All the scenes came from the children’s adaptations of Red Riding Hood.

The first group performed the final scene of their adaptation in which Wolf bursts into granny’s house and turns into an alien (who is then captured by the FBI). The scene involved a brilliant slow-motion fight and a transformation where the actor playing Wolf swapped with another actor when he became the alien. This was a really inventive scene.

The second group showed us the opening scene of their play – in their version Red Riding Hood comes from a super-wealthy family, but as the limousine driver is on holiday, Red has to take the public bus for the first time in her life to visit Granny. This group managed to develop their script during rehearsals, adding extra lines and a new character, which all worked really well. A very funny scene.

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The third group showed us the second scene of their adaptation – Red has gone to collect a pizza to bring to granny’s house, but Mum and then Granny ring her as she is trying to carry the pizza box. Meanwhile someone is following her… This was a complicated scene and the group did a brilliant job of making it flow seamlessly with the use of a screen – great stagecraft.

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The fourth group showed us scene three of their version, which is set in Hollister in Dundrum Shopping Centre – a brilliant modern setting. Red is using a voucher her granny gave her to buy a dress and once in the shop she chats to her friend Tom who works there. When he asks if she wants to hang out she realises she should be at granny’s because she has some medicine to bring her. There is great subtext in this scene (which means things that aren’t been said out loud), because Red reports that Granny didn’t sound sick on the phone, and Mum has asked her to slip the medicine into Granny’s tea without telling her…. This scene helps us to suspect Mum, who in this version is secretly trying to kill Granny (which we realised, when the group was writing the scene, makes her also the Wolf).

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The fifth group had set their version of the story in a creepy wood where Red and a friend stumble into an old laboratory on the way to Granny’s house. Bringing a friend into the scene was a great idea because then Red had someone to talk to and to tell some of the back-story of Granny’s secret history as an assassin. At the end of the scene Wolf, who has been watching the two girls, and who has been experimented on in the laboratory, tells his sad and vengeful side of the story. This scene was very atmospheric.

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The sixth group showed us the penultimate scene of their adaptation, where the Wolf tricks his way into Granny’s house by lying that he is a friend. In this version Red has a younger sister and both girls realise Wolf is really a thief come to steal their Granny’s drug stash. This is a great comedy action scene and the group had lots of strong ideas.

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All the scenes were terrific and really well played and I was hugely impressed by how each group managed to work together and create very polished scenes. I was particularly impressed at everyone’s ability to project their voice in performance. During the reading the children were quite muted, but in performance everyone made a big effort.

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This Session: Polishing and performing original, group written scenes from groups’ adaptations of Little Red Riding Hood.

Here is some feedback from the class on their experiences in drama and playwriting over the last five months.

Things You’ve Learnt

How to make a scene flow and make sense. Lily

I feel like I’ve learned that being an actor or even just having to speak to a crowd is a very brave thing. Marina

I’ve learnt a lot and we would be here all day if I had to list it all… improv, voice, how to stand in relation to an audience. Fionn

To project my voice better. Emily

How to compromise while writing a script. Muireann

What it’s like to be an actor. Aron

I’ve learnt to be more confident in myself and to not be shy. Molly

A lot of work goes into a play. Líadain

How to direct, write proper scenes. How to transform into a character. Leah

Acting and comedy. Leon

That body language sets the mood for the play. Mabel

Things That Surprised You In A Good Way

Writing scripts. Emily

At the start I wasn’t really interested in writing our own scenes, but by the end I really enjoyed it. Leah

I would be interested in writing scripts for actual plays in the theatre. Luke

I wrote a whole scene! Kate

I sounded a bit weird as the alien in our Red Riding Hood adaptation. Dayi

I surprised myself by writing a page or two for the play. I was surprised I could write a script. Saskia

Things Your Classmates Did That Surprised You In A Good Way

A lot of people were really talented at writing and/or acting. Lily

I found some of the scenes funny. Adam

When we wrote the plays and acted them out, I liked the way one group used the blue screen. Líadain

I was surprised how involved everyone got and how everybody just put their heads down and worked really hard throughout the whole thing. Leah

Good co-operation. Aron 

Other classmates surprised me by making up such complex stories for the play. Saskia

Leon was amazing at improv. We had a decent idea but Leon made it into, in my opinion, the funniest sketch that day. Fionn

In the improv – that we all had such crazy ideas. Lara

Some of their jokes were very good. Leon

Someone being a director was surprisingly handy. Mabel

It was a great pleasure to work with sixth class on developing performance, story structure and dramatic writing skills. They are an amazingly talented class bursting with creative ideas.

Michelle, June 2015

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