Drama Workshops

Commedia del Arte Drama Workshop

On Wednesday 20 April we, the Year 10 drama students, had a Commedia del Arte workshop with Cheryl from the Forte Theatre company – a specialised physical theatre company who have been offering innovative and alternative workshops to secondary schools since 2004.

Commedia is a very physical form of theatre and it is where we get the basis of our panto genre from. Originally it was a form of street theatre that was performed in the 1550’s. It consists of the typical stock characters we would expect to find in a pantomime. There are two types of characters: the Zanni (servants) and the Vechi (masters). Within each class there are different levels of superiority.

During the workshop we explored three masters: Capitano, a cowardly soldier who acts all brave, but gets scared very easily; Pantelone, a very nasty old man who treasures his money so much and will trust no-one; and finally Il Dottore, the doctor who acts as though he knows everything although in reality he knows next to nothing. The zannis we looked at were Arlechinno, a trickster who always gets his words in a muddle; Brighella, Arlechinno’s master, a very lazy man who likes to get other people to do his job; and Columbina, Arlechinno’s girl-friend, always willing to get Arlechinno out of beatings or scolding’s.

The two hour workshop was FANTASTIC, full of energy and enthusiasm and everyone enjoyed themselves. One member of the class loved how confident the woman who ran the workshop was and that whenever she put the mask on she went straight into character. We could see how important this was for our own performances. Another member of the class said that it really helped with our teamwork and awareness of others and how it allowed us to work with people we normally wouldn’t work with in this way. We also felt that it gave us a broader range of drama techniques. What was particularly enjoyable was the fact that the scenes where based on just a few points and we were allowed to freely explore and improvise around those ideas.

A fun and fascinating afternoon was had by all of us and we are looking forward to using these skills in our work this term.

Aidan Rees, Year 10

The Last Wish in the World

In the first half of this term Year 7 drama students have been exploring a modern tale fairy tale ‘The Last Wish in the World’, a story about a wizard sent to give away the last wish. He meets a range of different characters, a bag lady, a rich man, a policeman, a professor and a honeymoon couple, all of whom have their different reasons not to take the wish. The story explores issues around material wealth, greed and poverty and gets students to think about how they would use this wish if they had the opportunity. As part of this project the Year 7 are given their only drama homework of the year, to somehow source some bits of costume and props for one of the characters. They then bring them in for a Last Wish fashion parade. There were some really fantastic creations this year, so well done Year 7!

Ms Cruwys-Finnigan, Head of Drama

Two by Jim Cartwright

Recently the Year 12 Drama students performed their AS Drama and Theatre Studies Unit 2 exam performance to audiences of family, staff, friends and other drama students. Taking place over the course of one evening in a typical Northern pub, Jim Cartwright’s play ‘Two’ famously features fourteen characters and was originally written for just two actors. For exam time purposes we had to edit it down to a maximum time of forty-five minutes thereby losing three characters. Written in 1989, but still astonishingly real today, ‘Two’ waltzes the audience through a spectrum of human emotion, through the intimate insight into the lives of the colourful pub regulars. Sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic, yet always incredibly human, the audience catches snapshots of the community through self-contained nuggets of life.

The script is challenging and sophisticated requiring the group, Ollie Binion, Georgie Harwood, Isaac Rodin and Joe Urquhart to play a range of contrasting characters in a convincing and engaging way. In addition to these demands both Isaac and Joe took on female roles. We started rehearsals in January and a huge amount of hard work and dedication was needed to get performance ready. I was really impressed by the commitment the group showed and the end performances certainly reflected the hours of work they put into it.

Audience feedback was extremely positive, as can be seen by the following comments from some Year 11 drama students. “Hilarious and heart-warming. It had me in fits of laughter and floods of tears”, Eleanor Hills. “Incredibly stirring! It inspired me to want to do more acting myself”, Anthony Duncan. “Full of emotion, but funny moments too”, Katie Pike. “I didn’t want it to finish”, Jade Hawkins.

A big thank you to Harvey Causley and Katie Pike who operated our lighting and sound and to Olivia Bedford who helped the cast develop their brilliant Northern accents. Well done to the Year 12, I was very proud of them. Their next task will be to devise an original piece of theatre from scratch based on a stimulus that I have given them, so look out for a play about the Tolpuddle Martyrs in November.

Ms Cruwys-Finnigan, Head of Drama

World War One Drama Workshop With Professional Theatre Practitioner Charmaine Parkin

Report by Annabelle Knivett – Year 9
During the Easter holidays students from Years 9, 10, 11 and 12 attended a drama workshop run by Charmaine Parkin, creator and Director of BOK Theatre in Bournemouth. During the workshop we were taught different skills to use in performing using the theme of World War one. To start off we did activities which engaged communication skills such as eye contact, memory and multi-tasking. Charmaine explained how the left and right side of your brain were being used, the right where you concentrate on vocal expression and memory the left focusing on the physical task throwing a ball to one another and receiving. It showed us how some people focus more on the physicality of drama and others on the vocal side.

Afterwards we were put into groups (mixed years) which allowed people’s different views, skills and opinions to be combined in performing together using teamwork. Each group had different material (research) about WW1. Every group had to incorporate similar techniques to represent their information about the war. One of the techniques was to write our own Haiku poem from inspiration of three words to describe what our section of the war was about. However, before we could start on the practical we had to plan/structure what we were going to do with the research given to us and how we were going to combine it with individual tasks.

When each group performed their work, the rest of us who were watching did an evaluation, the same as we do in lessons at school. We evaluated how they did by observing their work, deciding what was effective and then what could be improved by offering ideas.

There was a scene during the performance in which everybody was involved and Charmaine gave us the feedback. For this section four of the group read a famous poem ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen whilst the rest of us represented what happened around them with imagery using body language and facial expressions in silence. The four readers, had under-readers which is a technique where a partner speaks their lines in a neutral voice whereas the other partner repeats with expression and their own interpretation of the emotion within the lines. It was a very useful skill to observe and learn, I thought that in the performance it was very effective and became a powerful overall image.

Before our final performance we had a Question and Answer session were we got to ask Charmaine questions. Many different aspects such as her own knowledge of useful skills, her experiences and what drama meant to her where discussed. What Charmaine had to say was very interesting to listen to and very useful.

The performance overall went very well. The parents, family and friends, who had come to watch, enjoyed seeing what all of our hard work had produced.

The workshop was really beneficial and I believe that it helped everyone involved to improve and develop their skills for future work.

Everyone who took part in the workshop were also given a free ticket to see ‘Shot At Dawn’ in Bridport in April.
Thank you very much to Charmaine Parkin and Ms Cruwys-Finnigan, from all the students who took part.



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