Sunday, 10 February 2019

Story Makers: Space Tortoise- Week One: 'Characters.'

Story-Makers is back! After a relaxing hiatus it was wonderful to start off a brand new term with our story makers: Sundays have felt empty without it. With a new term comes a new story and a few new faces to the group, and this time we have a pretty cool space theme to go alongside all of the drama. This term we are looking at 'Space Tortoise,' a story by Ross Montgomery about a tortoise who sets out to reach the stars in the hopes of finding other animals. As always, each week we have a particular focus and to get us started we looked at characters.

Characters are an important part of any story, so it seemed a good point to begin with. In a similar fashion to our Chameleon Group, the aim with the story makers is to inspire the development of creativity, but also form the foundation of how to create and tell a story. We began the session with some fun moving games- these were low stakes games, essentially to building up the confidence for both newcomers and long-term story makers. With a new group it is always important to give them time to get used to the feel of the sessions, as it is for those who have not taken part in a while. The Anthos Arts approach is to get everyone comfortable through games. Once everyone starts laughing most nerves have been forgotten.

The games we played focused on moving. The group always enjoy a game where they can move around a lot and be a tad silly. The exercise I prefer is the opposites game, where the group have to do the opposite of what they are told. If they are asked to walk, they stop, if they are asked to jump, they clap, etc. It's a familiar game to those who have worked with us before, but effective and, importantly, amusing. We next moved onto a favourite game played by entry level dramatists and experts alike. The group have to pretend to be something from a specific place; for instance pretending to be a bed in a bedroom, or if the setting was a garden, something found there. There are always a few wild card dinosaurs here and there, but the aspect of the game that is important is having everyone involved and pretending. There's no wrong answers in our group!

Onto the story then and we read it together. Afterwards we discussed characters and what a character was. Some very good answers came from the group and we agreed that a character "was someone in a story." Some members of the group even gave examples, such as a narrator. The challenge for the story makers then was to create a character card. When deciding how to explore characters, character cards seemed a sensible route. Again, it was something accessible for the group that everyone could enjoy, but not something demanding (as it was only the first session back) of them.

The story makers could create a character card from the story, or create their own character. We had some fantastic creations, both of the tortoise from the story and some completely original ones. Featured in the lineup were Puss in Boots, Elsa, a space-kitty and, outstandingly, a space-bin. All fantastic examples of characters and great to see. We sat as a group and asked everyone to share their creations with each other. Another step in building confidence is to create a space where everyone feels they can share ideas.

Lastly, at the end of the session, we sat down to meet Anthos Arts latest friend. For a project about a space tortoise, it seemed fitting that we should have our very own turtle to help us week to week. The group were asked to name him and we had some incredible names put forward. In the end it was decided that he would be Timmy the Turtle (though it was a hard decision indeed.)

A wonderful but wild first session. It was great seeing our story makers from last term and meeting our newcomers. The group suddenly feels a lot bigger and our room much smaller. Over the holidays I had forgotten how much energy and creativity these guys had, and am super excited for this term to continue. The story is a great one and there are sure to be lots of fun sessions exploring it ahead!

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