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Our work breaks down barriers within and between people. It knows no boundaries. We are ready to travel anywhere in the world to share what we have with others.
The only requirement from students, apart from an interest in what we offer, is a working knowledge of English. In fact, one of the purposes of the workshops in continental Europe is to develop pupils' speaking and listening abilities in English. For more details see Language learning.
A more fundamental aim of our work is the development of the imagination and personality through theatre, and of the body and voice as instruments of expression. See Content.
Just as small children stop repetition from becoming tedious by incorporating it into their play, so students can use rehearsals and theatre games to take the drudgery out of language learning. Teachers watching or taking part in the workshops will discover all sorts of ways in which drama school games can be adapted for use in the classroom, to build vocabulary and clarify structural rules. To take a simple example: a story can be told around the class, with each pupil repeating what has already been said, after the teacher has made corrections, then carrying the plot a step further.
See Content for more details.
The two hours of movement, relaxation, breathing and voice that normally follow continue some of the work begun during the theatre games, helping pupils feel at ease with their own and one another's bodies. The aim is to increase the body's suppleness, not its strength, tuning it and making it a more expressive instrument. We encourage pupils to think of the voice not as something separate from the body but growing from it as branches and leaves grow from a tree-trunk, and of breath as the sap that feeds the whole tree.
The amount of time given to improvisation depends on pupils' interest and abilities. Where improvisations have worked well, we have sometimes captured them and made them the basis of a short play. We have recently been using improvisation with our European pupils as a way of increasing their awareness of the poverty and exploitation in former European colonies. See Illustrated talks.
Much of our work is text-based. We have studied over twenty plays, extracts and condensations, among them Romeo and Juliet and Arthur Miller's The Crucible. The parts of Romeo and Juliet have sometimes been played by students of different racial types, making the play especially relevant today. The Crucible describes a witch-hunt at Salem, Massachusetts, in the seventeenth century but is at the same time a metaphor for the official persecution of suspected Communists in the United States in the 1950s, of which Arthur Miller was himself a victim. We have also worked on medieval miracle plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream and other plays by Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.
Acting is the expression of the intellect, imagination and emotions through the body and voice, and the aim of an actor's training is to re-integrate the separated parts so that they work in harmony. Our story-teller turns out to be an Olympic swimmer, and at the same time an academic and the mother of four.
Fundamental to the synthesis of mind, body and emotions is physical relaxation, which forms an important part of our teaching.
With relaxation comes greater self-confidence and fluency of speech, making it easier for a pupil to stand up in front of a group or crowd, to persuade and entertain.
As pupils overcome their anxiety about themselves, they start to look outwards at the people around them.
Rôle-playing in improvisations and the close study of character in a play develop a pupil's awareness and understanding of others.
The theme of the talks also runs through some of the short plays we work on with our pupils, and through their improvisations. The talks therefore usually form part of a workshop programme, although they can of course be given independently of the theatre workshops.
One of our illustrated talks can give added depth to a workshop programme. We spend anything from a day to ten days with pupils. Normally our work covers five days: twenty hours with each of two groups of about fifteen, culminating in a sixty-minute performance in front of friends and relatives or other students.
For details and prices, please contact us.