Year 10 & 11 Drama classes took part in a physical theatre workshop during the last week of half term which was run by freelance practitioner, James Edgington. The aim of the workshop was to help improve student’s range of performance skills and to give them some different perspectives and ideas about performance techniques, all of which will help them in their final exams.
The students undertook a range of activities designed to encourage them to consider how to tell stories through their bodies rather than their words. Physical theatre is (as the name would suggest) very physically and mentally demanding, so students worked on focus and trust exercises to begin with and then moved on to more physical activity. They were asked to consider how to demonstrate a range of emotions, using only their physicality, and how they could do this without it becoming a pantomime. To do this, they used the idea of performing as themselves taking a journey which they knew quite well (e.g Going from home to school). They then had to consider how to demonstrate five different emotions at different points of the journey without words. James encouraged the students to think about different percentages of emotion. How can you show irritated at 10% and irritated at 80%? This was a difficult concept as of course, the natural response is to ‘over-act’, however the James guided students to consider how to make these emotions more realistic- for example, we don’t all stamp our feet when we are very, very angry, but we might quicken our walking pace.
At the end of the workshop the students were asked to perform in front of each other and reflect on their experience.
As an observer of the workshop, I felt privileged to be able to watch these students working in such focused and controlled ways, as well as producing thoughtful and dynamic pieces of drama as a result of the techniques learnt. The group were respectful of James and his processes, supportive of each other and open and willing to learn and try out exercises which would put some adults out of their comfort zone. For this, I am both impressed and proud of the students involved and look forward to seeing the Year 11s final GCSE performances taking place on April 21st. I hope that many of you can come to watch and show your support.