Community Drama Training
NAYD’s Community Drama Training is up and running. Four days of training have been delivered on the pilot programme in Drogheda. Participants come from a range of local youth/community work organisations. The Training is delivered by Colin Thornton, NAYD’s Community Drama Development Officer. Below some of the participants share their experience of the programme so far:
I was both nervous and excited when I arrived bright and early on a Monday morning for the first day of our Drama training. My physical body was awake enough to actually get me there, but my creative mind was still hitting the “snooze” button so to speak. Having been a participant in a youth theatre in my teens and loving every minute of it, now at age thirty one, I was worried I would find it difficult to be open and expressive in front of a group of strangers. It had been a long time since I had been asked to “perform” in front of any kind of audience and even though we were all in the same boat, it was hard not to be anxious about feeling foolish or self-conscious. I looked around a circle of pale and nervous faces, and even though our fear was evident, so too was our comittment and determination, as we threw ourselves into the warm-up games and activities Colin set before us.
The most memorable of these initial exercises, was when we were asked to represent in a pose how we were feeling at that moment, at the beginning of the workshop. We were allowed to keep our eyes shut to save any embarrassment or uncomfortable feelings. This, we learned, meant the activity was a “low focus” excercise, as no one in particular was the focus of the group, we weren’t aware of each others’ poses. I personally adopted a very closed position, my body contorted in an anxious knot with my hands held to my mouth as if I were gnawing on my fingernails with stress. Colin then led us through various other low to medium focus exercises that followed smoothly from one to the next, each time with a slight increment in the amount of concentration and improvisation required. After some time, you could really feel the energy we had created in the room. The once pale faces were now flushed with the warm pinkish colours of healthy exercise and it was obvious that the group were becoming more relaxed with one another, as we laughed and joked amongst ourselves in between drama exercises. Finally that morning, Colin asked us to repeat the initial experiment of closing our eyes and striking a pose to represent how we felt now. The position I now adopted couldn’t have been more different than the previous one. My arms were stretched out in an expression of freedom, energy and joy, and when we were allowed to then open our eyes I saw that mostly everyone else had adopted similar open poses. Within a few hours we had broken down many barriers within ourselves and it was an exhilarating and empowering experience to feel somehow changed for the better.
It was this exercise that prompted me to really consider the Psychology of a drama workshop for the first time. I was noticing that even though every game we played had a “fun factor”, there was a hidden learning/development exercise within, that was either helping us to build our confidence, increase our focus, or develop our imaginations. As a youth worker, I find that a lot of our young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have severe difficulty in using their imaginations, so this was something I had a particular interest in learning how to develop in others.
Overall, as an introduction to the world of drama again, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I learned a lot about introducing drama to a group, and how best to include everyone in the activities in a supportive non-intimidating manner. It really reminded me, how drama is an amazing tool for getting to know people very well in a short amount of time. I felt extremely nostalgic for the friends and wonderful people I had met through drama the first time around. I’m convinced that it would highly benefit the young people I work with everyday, to participate regularly in an activity where they can form the kind of lasting friendships that help to create your own individuality and self belief now and later on in life. Drama offers a platform for freedom of expression and personal development in a way that can really benefit young people who are struggling to find their place in society. I am looking forward to the future training workshops, in particular the ones where we will be learning how to use drama as a tool to discuss important social issues with a group of adolescent teens.
I have always known drama was enjoyable both as a participant, and a spectator. Now I am learning that it can also be extremely fun as a Drama Facilitator, and I look forward to the challenges and benefits that this new journey will bring.
My first day at the NAYD community drama training was fast paced and fabulous. Coming from a drama background, I worried that it would be a lot of sitting around discussing the theories of working through drama with young people. It was nothing like that, we were on our feet from the word go, doing all the exercises that we would be using ourselves as a drama facilitator. Once you have experienced the exercises with a group of people you don’t know, you know exactly how your group will be feeling when they start. It was a brilliant way to learn what would work best for your group.
I left exhausted but really looking forward to day two.
The second day at the NAYD community drama training was again a fantastic day. It flew by. We went through some more workshops and could experience first hand the bonding that takes place quickly within a group when it is well facilitated. We were all starting to build up trust within the group. Colin had very clear tables of what took place in each workshop and what the expected result would be.
We were also provided with a document listing all the exercises, which was important as I couldn’t remember half of them.
The only downside was I have to wait another month till my next session, I can’t wait!
Find out more about the Community Drama Training Programme.