Week 10: Making time for play…

Half term comes around and not a moment too soon! Time to pause, take a breath and take stock.

The past few weeks have been a period of enormous creativity with the groups as we’ve started to explore mask work and puppetry. It’s been wonderful to see how everyone is starting to express themselves using a wider range of performing arts. It really started with the Punjabi drumming, the students finding news ways of communicating ideas and evoking emotions. Shakera has helped make them more confident with their movement and Tom, through his sessions with masks, has really liberated them and brought a greater sense of creativity through play into the work. I just had to sit back and watch them come to life.

I’m not sure the students really get the idea of archetypes, it’s a little beyond them as yet. But if you say ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘Who me?’ to them, they can very quickly get into character by focussing their attention to the pelvis, throat or lips. The Fool, The Victim and The Trickster are sure to work their way into our final piece. As for The Hero? Well, he really could do with being a bit more heroic but he’ll get there. Watch this space…

Last week we worked with the students on puppetry. It was amazing to see them so enchanted by puppets that were no more than a couple of plastic bags and a pair of black and white Wiggly/Wobbly/Googly Eyes moving around an improvised theatre made out of a cardboard box.  A table lamp and a wistful music added atmosphere, but really, it was the simplest of things. No CGI 3-D special effects. No millions spent on pyrotechnics. No Hollywood a-listers. But such is the magic of theatre. And for many of our new-to-English students it was their very first taste of it (it never really occurred to any of us that we’d have to explain what the word ‘puppet’ meant but that’s exactly what we had to do).

After watching the performance the students had a go at creating their own puppets and then bringing them to life, starting with the plastic bag puppets. 2 sandwich bags, a little wire tie and a lot of imagination later and they had the cast of their own shows. One group went on to create more puppet magic using wooden spoons and pipe-cleaners, whilst another got the chance to create environments for their creations using cardboard boxes, play dough and other assorted bits and bobs. Within minutes new worlds were realised and the stage was quite literally set for some wonderful story telling.

So, some amazing work has been done but we’ve only really started to tap into all that imagination and creativity. With 6 weeks to go until ‘curtains up’ things are bound to hot up a little soon, but if the past few weeks have taught us nothing else, they have taught us the importance of making time for play….


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