Early morning start at Barnes Primary School for another Schools workshop. These TIE pieces are going really well with full participationfrom the children, who are delighting in the Alice theme and engaging fully in the Maths work being set.
The one problem that none of the groups have quite got to grips with is finding a fluid way to configure the space for the children, who have a natural desire to get as close to the action as possible, particularly in the free space of the school hall. I haven't been to a workshop yet where somebody or other hasn't made a grab for the Mad Hatter's hat.
Occasionally we, as facilitators, want to crack on with the exciting work and don't take the needed time to get everybody sitting where we want them to observe the action. It's the kinesthetic urge to always have the children active. Somehow sitting in formal arrangements, watching or listening to the story is seen as almost offensively passive. We're learning a lot from the patient insistance of the regular teachers we meet.
Of course Drama is the perfect discipline for learning about how to manipulate space. So much of our work relies on choosing were the actor is and where they're observed from. At it's best a body or bodies in space can be fun, witty, poignant or just plain imaginative and new learning is also completely reliant of seeing something familiar from a fresh perspective. If we're thoughtful about this side of the work we can really open up some incredible opportunities for the children to engage with anything from the Olympics to the works of Lewis Carroll.
It's good to watch the the way the students work to maintain focus and order, without upsetting the excitement and involvement of the children and I'm learning a lot in terms of how we work next week, when over 200 year fives come to see Cabbages and Kings.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.