Summer Camp Drama Group. 40 teenagers aged 14-18, male and female.

A write-up from today’s session.

Today we created a fun and creative space that was safe for everybody to explore real social issues that affect people their age. Everybody was keen to take part after we warmed them up with games. Through the use of games as well as discussion, we managed to get very far with this group’s progress very quickly. We are very pleased and are excited to play different games over the next two days to develop their confidence and self-esteem. By playing alongside discussing issues, they will all be engaged throughout the session and be able to create a performance that will speak to them and their audience. Tomorrow we will continue to enable them to think more deeply about social issues affecting their age group through ways that they find enjoyable.

Games

A key part of our practice is play and games so to inform the rest of the workshop we always start with games. Through games, we give the group the opportunity to take part in exercises to produce an affect – an emotional response – this is metacognition where we train them into having the skill of reflecting upon their behaviour later. Discovery of emotions is crucial in play as well as how to interact with others. Play teaches us about how to bond with other people, there is an openness and a space to experiment. Today, like any other drama workshop, we started the session with games. These games included:

  • Pass The Boo and Pass The Clap. In this game, the participants are asked to pass a sound and an action around the circle. This not only engages them, but also wakes them up for the session. Very important when there is a 3 hour session ahead. This game ensures that they are invested from the start. It also encourages them to be more confident in the group as it is quite a silly game and allows them to relax around eachother. The skills from pass the boo and pass the clap are crucial in devising with a tightly bonded group. It is a quick and easy way to build a bond within a group given the short amount of time we have.
  • Bomb and shield. The exercise is a metaphor that allows us to deal with issues later on. The physicality of the exercise allows you to see the game objectively. In this game, young people become very aware of personal space. We invite people to engage in play in a structured space that is seemingly chaotic. The facilitator in this game creates the opportunity for group-mixing as well as comfort in closer personal space. Comfort with closer contact (but not physical touching) is very useful for devising.
  • ‘Go’ ball game. This game is essential for focus. In this game one person stands in the middle and throws the ball to people in the circle. When another wants to go into the middle, they shout ‘Go’ and run in. This game is very effective at achieving eye contact. What was particularly nice in this game, although some were still quite shy at this point in the day, was that everybody is given an equal chance to take part and be centre within the space. Many times in children’s lives, some children do not get this sort of opportunity so games such as ‘Go’ are very useful ways to facilitate a space in which everybody has equal opportunity to take part.
  • Musical freeze-frames. Musical freeze-frames is a fun way to learn about freeze-frames, which are crucial in creating a performance. By playing music and encouraging them to dance and move around the circle they do not consider the session like a lesson but more a fun activity. Learning through fun is an essential part of our practice. We chose songs that they had used in the dance show to make sure that the game was catered towards them.

We then took everything we had learned from each game to apply them to the next activity.

Frozen-images based on issues. 

In order for the group to explore issues that are relatable to them, we put them in groups of 5 to discuss social issues teenagers face. Social learning theory says that ‘theatre provides opportunities to enable a new change’. You need new language to create new behaviour. Through playing games and talking about social issues, we give the group the opportunity to create new language and therefore new behaviours and understandings of topics. This was shown particularly evident in the comments made in the group discussions.

They all were brilliant, using the skills and energy from the games to create images that they were passionate about. Each group had 10 minutes to create their image before we made an audience & asked them to sit and watch one another.

The whole group had to guess what image each frozen image was of and then decide on a solution to the problem.

Group 1

 Issue: A boy is proposing to his girlfriend so her brother fights him.

The rest of the group discussed a solution to the problem.

Their solutions:

1 – talk peacefully

2 – the girl should tell her brother if that is her boyfriend

Group 2

Issue: A teenager is adding a pretty girl he doesn’t know on Facebook. He wants to add her.

 Their solutions: They are strangers, she should not accept him and he should not add girls that he does not know. He may try to meet her.

 Group 3

 Issue: A girl is on the bus being harassed by a man whilst a policeman takes another man off the bus.

 Their solutions:

  1. The girl should learn self-defence
  2. She should inform people around her
  3. She should call the police
  4. Leave the bus

To the comment about the police, a debate started regarding whether or not the police would help & why the police was not arresting both men. One girl said ‘police would come after, they are bad like that’.

A boy responded: She should travel with her brother all the time.

Girl reacted: How do you always travel with your brother? They lead different lives…’

This was evidence of a very interesting debate starting relating to women’s responsibility to look after themselves – does the blame lie with men, women or both?

Group 4

 Issue: Drinking and smoking leading to addiction.

 Their solutions: Don’t drink or smoke. As teenagers it turns into addiction or health issues like cancer. You can drink in moderation.

Group 5

Issue: Boys paying off the police after harassing a school-girl.

 Solution: Make a video of the policeman taking the bribe, do not trouble a girl so that you don’t have to pay the money in the first place.

Group 6

Issue: Going on your phone during exam period and failing your exams.

 Solution: Set times for studying and time for using your phone. Put your phone away.

 Group 7

Issue: Men grabbing girls as they walk down the road. They do not know eachother. The public watching and not doing anything to stop it.

 Solution: Record for the police, respect women, the girl can run or shout for help. ‘Just don’t harass the girl’, ‘today they’re doing this to her but tomorrow it could happen to their mother or sister’.

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