Sunday, 16 December 2018

Story Makers: The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat- Week 7: 'Shadow Puppets.'

Yesterday we had a very long and very busy day with our Chameleons at the Cygnet theatre: where they performed their show and we closed the book on another term. Fittingly, this morning also saw the conclusion of our first term with the Story Makers; and suddenly seven weeks seems to have flown past. It being the first term for the group, there was always the question of what would happen at the end of term.

Initially, the plan was to create a show, however after working with the group it seemed that doing so might be asking too much too fast. The group is comprised of some lovely creative minds and demanding a performance from them felt like the wrong approach. So, after much debate I decided a better approach would be to create a version of the story which, if needed, could be seen as a performance, whilst also teaching the group a new skill. The way in which I finally settled upon to achieve this was to do some shadow puppetry.

Creating shadows is easy- we used some torches, a couple of bed sheets and some string for the screen and light, but there are many other benefits for working within this age range as well. For instance; our story makers worked together (first in pairs and then as a group) to create the effect of the shadows on the screen. It was a good exercise for promoting teamwork and communication between them. Additionally, for those who would otherwise be too nervous to perform in front of others, being behind the screen alleviates the feeling of being watched.

In terms of learning the mechanics, the group paired up and took a screen each. Both had a toy chameleon which they could use to create shadows. Both pairs had to try and make the chameleons look larger and smaller by moving them towards/away from the light.

Next we set about telling the story. This involved using some small cardboard cut-outs of the characters who appeared. The group worked together, taking turns to hold the torches up and use the characters, whilst the story was narrated. All in all, it was a lovely performance, made up of elements which most could find at home. It sums up what this term has been about; teaching our story makers about drama using simple things to create something imaginative which helps to tell a story. Sure, we have focused on learning about the different elements needed and approaches taken to telling a story, but the intention has always been that the group could use the skills they learn outside of the sessions too.

So it was that we ended up with a performance to bring this first term to a close. While it may not be a similar one to our Chameleon group yesterday, or even as initially intended seven weeks ago; the group were all involved and got to tell the tale of the Owl and the Pussycat in their own way. It was a lovely to watch and so much fun to be involved in.

So that's it. All that is left is to say a huge thank you and well done to our wonderful Story Makers. It's been a wonderful seven weeks and there is bound to be more in store for them in the new year. More stories to tell and work to be made. These guys have completely made the early Sunday mornings worthwhile and will all be missed over the Christmas holidays. I couldn't have asked for a nicer bunch to kick off our Early Years drama journey. We will be getting back together again post-Christmas to see Hansel and Gretel at the Exeter Northcott. Can't wait.

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