Connect, affect, disconnect
It’s been a fair few weeks since I took the plunge and decided that starting an MA in Collaborative Theatre would be a good idea.

A two week introductory course with Frantic assembly was the carrot that I needed having dabbled a little in some of the techniques I had come across in my teaching.  The impact that this has had on me and how I perceive me moving forward in the arts and in my career has been recognizable.

Scott Graham spoke much about the ‘Crooked Path’ and the journey that we find ourselves on in order to get somewhere. I certainly started on my journey a long time ago with a belief in my self and a passion for drama. Following my crooked path took me to starting my own youth theatre, having been to drama school and not truly getting where I wanted to be. I returned to my home town and  found myself teaching and directing and writing for young people. I believed myself to be good at this; following my instincts and enjoying the various results that came from collaborating with young people, enthusing their creativity and building their skills.

When it came to working  I don’t know if I actually followed a process. I discovered ways to encourage and developed exercises to work with, even using key phrases with students to resonate with students and help them work in practical ways. There was always a vision and improvisation and devising was key. I have always naturally been drawn to telling stories in different ways, I used physical theatre or what my concept of physical theatre was. Something I have learned is that I do need to record more of how I develop and take notice of the process. So much of what I do is spontaneous,which has its place but from that spontaneity could be elements of my own building blocks, things that work for me and how they can impact on the way I want to tell stories.

My understanding of how I can use the devising blocks in my studio to investigate and create moments of theatre have been amplified. I have a drive and knowledge and confidence in exploring with these tools where previously I may have floundered. I want to attempt new ideas and make collaborative connections.

As part of my self study I made a conscious effort to reintroduce music into my rehearsal space. I have been using this with my classes in school and with my youth theatre.

I have used this in warm ups, they have always been an essential part of my practise. Games and exercises are a vital resource and this was reinforced over the two weeks with frantic. The music is like the weather in the room, you can create the temperature. Moving on from this was the capacity to use it within the devising blocks, using a soundtrack and giving a different lens to the moments that  are drawn together from the devising blocks. I  have played around with this  a few times allowing students to see the difference the music may make to a scene played with the movement of hands in the same way but with just a change in music. I have deepened my interaction with music, using the app Spotify to support my knowledge of artists and genres, helping me build up a repertoire of material that may be useful to me when creating work.

Part of being on this course made me realize the huge gaps I have in my own knowledge, so reading up on plays and practitioners- looking into companies and directors that have passed me by while I have been busy with work and family. The approach I have to teaching in class room now has more structure. I feel able to deliver cohesive lessons that will enable young people to grasp what performance is about and I feel more confident to steer them in a direction that will allow them develop skills that encompass a wide variety ways that they can feel valued and supported in the drama room. I have implemented changes that already have a clear process and add clarity to the Schemes Of Learning I have in place. I have formatted the Proposal, Attempt and Presentation structure that we worked on with Simon in week 2. I’ve also developed the Terminology of ‘fixing’. To fix something- duel connotations in rehearsal to fix and improve work. But also about fixing- to secure something in place when they know they have found something that is working. All of this has aided  my Dept development plan and given me a clear vision of how I see the progress in the delivery of my lessons.

I have been writing, using my blog to put down thoughts, feelings. I have scribbled ideas down for plays and performances. I have also worked on some Automatic Writing and sent a letter to my Pen friend as part of the task to get me in the habit of writing. All in all my self study has opened up a lot of potential for me to explore. I feel that there is still a lot more. The writing aspect for me is something I want to develop further and certainly requires more input and exercise but I feel happy with the direction I am going in.

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