Drama and film workshop – ‘The Great and the Small’ – a cultural project linking students in Nepal and Woodroffe school through story telling. July 2013.

A group of artists - Gail Sagman, Katia Marsh, Julie Critichinson from Dorset and Karla Ptacek from London, undertook a month-long research project in Nepal funded by the Arts Council. The project, 'The Great & The Small' uses a 250 million year old seam of Blue Lias that connects Lyme Regis to the Annapurna region as a prompt to explore the other unseen connections that connect these two seemingly disparate places.

Each artist worked with different specialism - photography, art, sculpture, film, performance. As a director and theatre practitioner, Karla’s interest was in the stories that accumulate around the saligrams (ammonites) and the life stories that emerged from their interviews. She ran a two day workshop in Kathmandu at the Village Theatre Company, with a group of young actors. This produced a series of first person testimonies loosely gathered under the title 'Life changing events..'.. Karla then contacted us to set up the same workshop with Woodroffe students.

The two sets of stories will be combined to produce one voice, in which young people from Nepal and Dorset speak about an event that inspired or changed their young lives. The film will be shown at the Jam Factory as part of ArtsFest.

Cicely Halkes-Wellstead, one of the participants writes –

Fourteen of our students ranging from year 9 to year 12 took part in the workshop which used Konstantin Stanislavski methods. First we did name games which helped us to become more comfortable around each other. Then we did further warm up games that used concentration, imagination and helped to warm up our voices. We then explored how an actor uses the fourth wall, we imagined we were stood at a bus stop and we were all having our individual phone conversations but also trying to look out at the audience without actually seeing them. Many struggled with this at first but found that constructive criticism helped them to improve  “I learnt that if I get any criticism then take it and learn from it, not let it get me down”. . “This was an extremely useful task when it came to the actual the story telling”. We had been asked to bring in an object which had some significant meaning to us, we discussed within the group why these particular objects had meaning, many of them were triggers to fond memories. This helped the group to further familiarise and understand each other as individuals. To understand how different genres are portrayed we were each given the same story but a different genre to act it in these included horror, adventure and a musical. One of the tasks which I found most interesting consisted of splitting into pairs and telling your partner a story which was significant to you, we then joined together as a group and had to tell our partner’s story as if it was our own. “It was interesting to see which parts they had remembered and which parts they highlighted” and for many members of the group “it was easier to hear the story told by someone else than tell it myself”.

Lastly we were filmed talking about a real life story for us which held some meaning, whether it was sad or happy or insightful we were all given the gift of hearing one another’s. “Not only was this workshop useful in terms of acting but it also helped me to understand my peers a lot better”. Some of us learnt how to draw an audience into a story and how to express the emotion of grief and sadness to an audience.

Rachael Clarke commented – ‘I really enjoyed the day, the workshop was so worthwhile . I didn't know what to expect and I was quite nervous but it was brilliant. All the year groups came together and supported each other so strongly we were all able to open up about things we never thought we could. On top of that we learnt some vital acting skills and techniques which will surely come in handy next year!

Cleo Nester commented ‘I found the workshop really interesting and I definitely learnt things that I will be able to use in my drama both in and out of lessons. It was also a really fun day and it was nice to be able to talk to other drama students from across the school. Hearing their stories was fascinating and I enjoyed the day very much’.

Anne Cruwys-Finnigan

Drama and Film Workshop – ‘The Great and the Small’

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