Congratulations to all the participants on NAYD’s Community Drama Training Programme who are graduating this week. They have blazed a trail as they are the first ever participants on the programme. The course took place in Drogheda and participants were from a number of local youth work organisations including B.O.Y.N.E. and CABLE Garda Diversion Projects, Southside Community Youth Project and Drogheda Youth Development. The course has been specifically designed to support youth workers in developing new skills in drama facilitation that they can use in their work with young people. It is facilitated by Colin Thornton, NAYD’s Community Drama Development Officer.
Ciara Duffin, Drogheda Youth Development, has been keeping us up to speed with her experience on the course and here she details one of the last sessions they had together:
Our drama training for month five, concentrated on giving us the skills to plan, structure, and deliver an entire one hour workshop to the group. We would be facilitating in groups to make it easier, and it would be the first time we would have had to deliver a workshop without Colin’s assistance. It was a little scarey, but exciting at the same time to have full creative control and I was looking forward to the challenge of leading the group on my own.
Colin lead us into the task gradually, by first asking each one of us to instruct the group in a warm-up exercise. It was interesting to take part in a warm-up where everyone contributed something different. After some concentration games and short improvisations, we divided into our groups to set about planning our workshops. It was a beautiful sunny day so we were allowed to sit outside and work in the sun, which lifted everyone’s spirits. I was working with Vivienne, my colleague from DYD, and Colin set us the task of designing a workshop that could be used at the end of an eight week introductory drama course - similar to what we had been doing with our DYD drama students for the past few weeks, but taking character development and improvisation to a higher level.
Firstly, we decided on our warm-up exercises. As we had a lot of specific ideas that were geared towards character development, and creativity, we wanted to keep the warm-up brief to allow for the time it would take to get through the more time consuming parts of the workshop. We settled on a quick rub down! and a shake out with names to energise the group. We decided next we would play the game Where do we come from?, as it is also a good energiser, but more importantly, it introduces the idea of creative play, movement and character development.
Participants are divided into teams where one team must come up with a physical movement/gesture that suggests a type of occupation and the other team must guess what the occupation is. We would then ask everyone to find their own space in the room and close their eyes. In our previous drama training session, as a group we all participated in the Role on the wall activity, where we came up with our own characters. We asked the group to remember the character they came up with, and using the technique Character Visualisation we instructed them to imagine seeing this character in a full length mirror. They are asked to consider their character’s appearance, physical stance, clothes, jewellery, hair, as well as how that character sees themselves i.e are they confident, insecure, indifferent to the way they look? More questions from the facilitator(s) help the participants to develop key notes on their character and explore them further in terms of personality and social status etc.
The character visualisation exercise then lead nicely into Character Walks, where we instructed the group to then walk around the room, still in character, taking on any physical movements or habits they felt their character should have. It was interesting to see the variety in the room, where some people were taking large confident strides around the room, others were wandering aimlessly or else walking very anxiously through the space. We felt that Imaging on the hour would also be a good tool to help the participants to explore a day in the life of their character. We went through various different times of the day and asked the group to demonstrate what their character would be doing at that time of day.
We then asked the group to hold on to their character and to bring them to the setting of a dating agency, where each character would have just twenty seconds to “sell themselves” on film to a potential dating partner. This was where the real fun came into play as each character was different to the next, some with sad stories of broken down marriages, others with hilarious attitudes towards men and dating. It was a fast paced exercise also, which gave the participants less time to plan what they would say in advance which added to the spontaneous fun factor!
We then developed this exercise further by adding a “collective role” element. We took two of the characters from the dating agency sketch and had them meet up on a date. Three of the group members were collectively playing one of the characters on the date which added an extra dimension to the improvisation. It was a challenge to the participants involved to know and understand their own characters as well as someone else’s, and it worked very well. We had hoped to take this further by having an improvisation set in a doctor’s waiting room, using the same characters from the group. As it turned out, we didn’t have time for this on the day, which is often true of planning a workshop. Timing is a difficult thing to measure, as any number of factors can affect how long it takes to perform an exercise or set of exercises, so you must be ready to adjust or make changes to your plan where appropriate.
Overall, it was an excellent experience to get a chance to deliver a full workshop to a group of my peers. I learned that I was in fact capable of doing it, and I enjoyed it a lot more than my nerves predicted I would! It was also exciting to participate in the workshops that everyone else in our group gave on the second day, and to observe the differences between them. We all proved to ourselves and to each other, that we are natural drama facilitators, who all have great potential in working with young people through drama. I am quite sad in fact that we only have one more month’s training before we finish, as the entire course has been so beneficial to me. I look forward to our last training session as they are always enjoyable, but with a heavy heart I begin to realise that my journey into drama facilitation is drawing closer to its end. I hope to ensure to follow it up with more drama training at the earliest opportunity.
Find out more about NAYD’s Community Drama Training Programme. If you are interested in participating in a future round of the programme, contact Colin.