Thursday, 7 April 2016

Creative School Blog Seven

Creative School Blog Seven

Break a leg!

February 8th 2016 - the day of the Scoil Dramaíocht competition came around very fast. We brought a coach of very excited students and teachers, anxious to showcase the fruits of their creative labour. Knocking knees and stomachs filled with fluttering butterflies were abound. 

We performed the play again on March 15th in Gullane's Hotel in Ballinasloe to an international audience of Erasmus visitors and our biggest fans - our families, to rapturous applause I might add.

It was a joy and  an inspiration to work with this talented group of young people and I am proud to announce that we achieved the award of 'Best play with an Inclusive Cast'. 

You did it. You came up with the ideas, you wrote the script, you choreographed the dances, you added suspense, you acted it out and now you relish in the glory. Well Done. 

Creative School Blog Six

Rehearsals Begin

With a script in hand, thanks to a few translator experts, including a local poet Seán Ó Leocháin, we finally have reached the stage the children are most excited about - rehearsals. This is where the experience of having staged numerous productions in the past comes in - students were on hand to suggest facial expressions, tone, emphasis, stage directions, props, even lighting and sound effects. This creative process happened very organically as rehearsals progressed.

As facilitator, I realised early on that if you encourage suggestions early on and are seen to value and implement them, the children feel empowered and make better and better suggestions.

Once the children became familiar with the lines, it was time to begin gathering costumes. Suggestions for celebrity costumes, hairstyles and make up were made. Children brought items from home and made suggestions for recycling costumes we had used for other productions e.g. the jungle backdrop (AN DUFAIR) was redesigned from a play we staged in 2012. 
 The set for the 1916 scenes needed to be designed and painted.

Remember this is all for a play to be performed as Gaeilge in a school that is not a Gaelscoil.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Creative Schools - Blog five

A Script???

As the deadline of the end of January for the submission of script for the Scoil Dramaíocht competition approached the need for an actual script and not pages and pages of scribbled ideas became apparent.

What was the solution?
Method: Divide and conquer and apply a bit of pressure.

Two teachers, a rough storyboard, some blank paper, some children and an hour.

The challenge: To write one scene each

Showcasing recently written material

We did it. And surprisingly it wasn't all that difficult. When you are under time pressure it is amazing what can be achieved. After that hour, the first scene when the characters swap programmes from the I'm a Celebrity Jungle to 1916 and vice versa was finally on paper after a series of improvising, recording and reviewing. The draft was certainly untidy but at least it was written and that constituted success. As the facilitators, the teachers was happy to write so that the student's creativity would not be hampered or slowed through having to write it down. 

We already had an opening scene with the children arguing over their TV programme. We had an initial jungle scene where the Ant and Dec as presenters introduced us to the celebrities and we saw Beckham and Ronaldo discuss their fame and fortunes.

The issue was the ending. How to tie it all together?
I decided to employ a creative process (that I have only since learned the name of) known as Synectics.
The children were asked to create an ending in their own time (a Springboard).

Each springboard was discussed and a list of the positive aspects of each were recorded.
A collaborative shared writing of an ending began with a clear focus on the theme that had organically emerged as the writing process progressed - one that revenge really achieves very little.

An integral part of our school drama has always been music. It's where we tried, in the past, to put our own modern twist on other people's dramas. We had an open brainstorming session for suitable music to include as a finale and also throughout the play.
A list of music was made and suggestions were taken as to where they could fit in. Once it was decided that a version of FIGHT SONG should be included for the character of Seán Healy, the children composed a the dialogue around it. It became the stimulus.

Further in the process the music choice evolved from the dialogue and the scene created. When the child is killed by the British soldier, an Irish lullaby was chosen from a list as the most suitable song to create the chilling atmosphere that the writers' wanted to create.

Creative Schools Blog Four

What happened in 1916?

As this process progressed I noticed as one of the guiding adults that the children were shying away from writing the dialogue for the 1916 scenes of which there needed to be at least two. I realised that this was because did not have the information and background knowledge required. Armed with this knowledge we chose the creative technique of

'Idea Advocate'

to decide as a group which character was most suited to our play.  As a homework exercise I asked the children to research some of the signatories of the proclamation as each participant had to present their case for including their chosen character in the script. Each case was taken on its own merit and evaluated. Padraig Pearse and Eamon Ceannt were chosen. Their Galway connections were not realised until afterwards.

We felt we needed to flesh out the scenes a little and so needed some more characters. We used the 1916 resource books that were in the school as inspiration.
Random ideas were suggested and we attempted to build on these. Many were discarded as they ran into dead ends but the story of young Sean Healy who was really too young to fight but begged to take part only to face death struck a chord with the group. They could see the dramatic effect an unexpected death of a well liked character could have.

The group were very animated jumping up, improvising  his death and his burial and the dialogue of revenge that would follow.

Creative School Blog Three

The Jungle Gets Fleshed Out

A brainstorming session where all the possible suitable celebrities were listed and ideas of the dialogue that they might inspire flowed from this.  Early on, Nathan Carter and Adele were suggested as celebrities to travel back in time. We improvised different dialogues and discussed the merits of each. Our early ideas are documented here by Laura:

Further ideas for other celebrities including Ronaldo, David Beckham, Ceryl Cole, Ant & Dec were brainstormed at this meeting.

Sorry that these pieces of evidence look a little worse for wear but they often say creativity is a messy process.

It was decided that Ronaldo and Beckham could argue over having the best goal record, the most  Balons d'Or or the most houses.  The children were anxious to add humour and understood that this could be achieved in a dramatic sense through conflict between two characters.

Creative Schools Blog Two

First Ideas

One could only be impressed and inspired when working with this group of young people. Given only one suggested inspiration, of perhaps using a 1916 Easter Rising Theme, I watched the creativity flow.

Ideas darted around the table. Students stood up, improvised, paced the room and even sang. They were sometimes difficult to document as one person added to a suggestion and elaborated and within minutes the ideas for entire scenes had unfolded. Songs and even stage directions were even suggested at this stage. They were eager to add a really modern twist.

By the end of the first meeting of this highly creative group, a clear beginning, that everyone was excited about, was emerging.
Here's an outline, so you can join in the excitement:

The stage opens with two children arguing over what to watch on TV. One child wants to watch a historical re-enactment of the 1916 Rising while their sibling is adamant that they want to watch a jungle based I'm a celebrity. GET ME OUT OF HERE!

Here is where the experience of being in the drama competition for a few years comes in. The children were not limited and decided on the following sequence of events.

There is a flash of lightning and terrible thunder and characters somehow end up in the wrong setting. Two 1916 characters find themselves in the jungle of 'I'm a Celebrity' and two modern day celebrities hurtle back 100 years to a 1916 battle site.

Where to from here? Wait and see.

Creative Schools Blog One

Where it all began!

It began in September 2015 with an idea from a student. An idea, that maybe this year, when we take part in our usual Scoil Dramaíocht Competition we would, dare I say it, write our own play! A daring task, it must be said.

Let me fill you in.
We are a small rural school in East County Galway within shouting distance of the Roscommon border. We have a good track record in the Scoil Dramaíocht competition that we are anxious to protect.
-  An Gresaí Bróg agus na Síoga (Best new Entrant) in 2012
- Rumpelstilskin (Connacht Finalist) in 2013
- An t-Asarlaí ó Oz (All-Ireland Finalist) in 2014

All these plays were adapted from other sources and while we tinkered with them to suit our needs and add a modern twist (One Direction also made it to OZ and Jedward bought shoes from the Elves and the Shoemaker), we had never attempted to write a drama from start to finish.

We didn't even know where to start!!

So we asked our experts, who are always on hand for issues big and small - the children! We asked them if possible to consider writing something to commemorate the 1916 rising. Check out the next blog to see their early ideas.