Ballinteer Educate Together – 5th Class – Session 2 – Friday 18th January 2019 Teacher: Lucy Abraham Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting

This week the session started with each group performing their Skellig scene from last week. It was great to come in and have some “scratch” theatre performed straight away in the classroom – myself and Lucy really enjoyed it! And all the scenes were so interesting in their variety and their approach.

Some groups opted for the scene where Michael meets his neighbour Mina and they get off to a bumpy start in their friendship. These scenes showed the characters being argumentative, but also curious about each other. They were funny too and they created a “hook” for the audience because I wanted to know what would happen at their next meeting.

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The other choice of scene – the one where Michael meets the old man in his shed, who turns out to be Skellig, were also really interesting and well dramatised, but with quite different personalities for Skellig himself. This demonstrated how the same character might be played differently by actors in different versions of the story. In one he was very weak and passive, but in another version, he was still weak, but much more grumpy.

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The children commented…

The plays we did for Skellig, it was really funny and it gave us a new perspective on Skellig because in the book you couldn’t really see what was happening you just had to imagine it but when we made it into a play it gives it a realism.

It was really nice seeing all the plays, most people were making the same scene but they ended up different. A lot of them were acted out different in how they portrayed the characters. The way one person acted the character of Skellig was very different to another.

We liked working as part of a group, sometimes I like working by myself but the group was good because they helped write scenes when I ran out of ideas. It’s really nice working with someone from outside the school because it helps get new ideas and Michelle is an expert for writing scenes.

Next we started to look at STORY, and how European stories are constructed. We are very used to the BEGINNING, MIDDLE, END story format in this part of the world, and this works very well for plays and films, but I did mention that this form can be different in other cultures, where stories might be more episodic, or more philosophical (more about what the characters are thinking). We did briefly mention sequels and soap operas where the story seems to keep going, but we noted that for a play – which has to happen in real time, and in a real place – a Beginning, Middle and End (BME) is a good structure. We also brain-stormed the notion of story a little bit, and there were lots of great suggestions – something interesting has to happen… things happen that are exciting or dangerous  things work out okay in the end.

I did note that in some stories, things don’t work out in the end, but that the MAIN CHARACTER will definitely have been involved in some kind of ACTION which usually effects them and possibly CHANGES them. Michael will always be affected by meeting Skellig  and his and Mina’s ACTION of helping to save Skellig and what happens after that (no spoilers!) changes a lot of things in Michael’s life – including making a strong friendship with Mina, but it also changes the way he thinks about the world.

We then had a look at what is actually inside the BME of a familiar old story, to try and break it down even further. As far as we know stories have been told since human beings first existed and have helped us to pass on information and even today, they are still used to entertain us, but also to advertise to us, to help us understand other people’s situations and ever to make complex ideas in science and technology more understandable and personal.

So, we went right back in time to the folk tale or fairy tale of RED RIDING HOOD, and each group tried to remember all the STORY BEATS that they knew. These are the main THINGS THAT HAPPEN in the story. And they really do vary because the oldest stories, (of which Cinderella might actually the oldest), were passed down in different cultures, and  from person to person before they were written down, so everybody involved got to add or take bits away. In Riding Hood there are versions where Grandma gets eaten by the Wolf or she just gets shoved in the cupboard. And there are version where Riding Hood is saved or saves herself. However, the main STORY BEATS are consistent.

So then we looked at the same story but from the Wolf’s point of view (POV), because last week we had noted that the MAIN CHARACTER, was the one whose viewpoint we were following. So what would it be like to switch that viewpoint to a different character? This was interesting because it totally changed the way the story felt, and it became much more real and much less fantastical than the folk tale version.

Each group then had the option to take the Wolf’s or Riding Hood’s viewpoint, and to write one of the scenes from the story from that POV for next week.

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What the children thought….

We found it really interesting when everyone was giving the version of Red Riding Hood that they knew, we didn’t know there were different versions. We got to talk about the moments of the story that were important and how they shaped the story. Then Michelle gave us a choice of different endings and some of them were so funny like Red Riding Hood marrying the wolf.

We also got to see a real script that Michelle wrote about a wolf and it was really cool to see the struggles of a wolf and not just him as a nasty character. That was really interesting and it makes you think differently about Red Riding Hood.

Lucy added…

The children were really looking forward to sharing their scenes with Michelle and acting them out for the class. They really enjoyed seeing and discussing the variations in how each group had interpreted and written the characters for the scenes. It was very apparent that what Michelle had done with them the previous week really resonated with the children and they applied it to their scripts and acting.

Next they looked at the story of Little Red Riding Hood, identifying and discussing key characters and moments. Michelle also shared with the class a script she had written from a wolf’s point of view. The children looked at potential endings for each story and enjoyed thinking about more unusual outcomes.

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