Wednesday, 5 December 2012

'Seasons' - Program Notes

We love the idea that theatre can happen anywhere and have spent time this term exploring ‘site-specific’ work where the inspiration for the drama comes from the actual space where it is performed. Part of this work includes something called ‘viewpoints’ where the actors take their cues from the shapes, objects and patterns in the room.

We have delved right into the very origins of theatre by discussing the role of theatre in ancient days and looking at the myths and gods that surrounded early Greek theatre. The storytelling opportunities were huge and within that we also focused on ‘Cheironomia’.  This is the ancient art of gesture used by the chorus to tell stories visually as well as orally. Many of the gestures used in this piece are actual gestures that historians have discovered on the paintings on pots from that time.

This term has been all about encouraging the students to improvise and create their own work. We have spent some time looking at the importance and power of dramatic tension. This is vital in character work, but most important in making a scene, or a play as a whole, gripping. The themes in this piece take that dramatic tension to the absolute extreme - enjoy!

This term we have explored mask work and how the body expresses 80% of all of our daily communication. When we remove the ability to speak or show our own facial expressions, we can really see the power of body language. Mask work is also a fantastic tool for boosting confidence - the  most shy of students will perform with vigour and panache whilst behind a mask. It allows the actor to really inhabit being somebody else.

It has been a delight to work with this group of mature, dedicated and feisty teenagers! The sessions with Tanushka have been dedicated to purely physical theatre, and particularly physical storytelling. We have found ways to jump deftly and swiftly through stories with visual imagery and emotional and physical commitment. We focused on physical comedy whilst at the same time allowing the space to invest emotionally in a simple action - whether it is folding a garment or waving goodbye.

Ben has spent this term focusing purely on character work and ways of creating truthful and real characters. By taking each actor’s chosen monologue and character Ben has scripted a surreal story that contains excerpts from all of the speeches. Watch closely and see which characters and references you can spot!


After-school clubs are a completely different environment to the Saturday sessions. For a start we only get just over an hour together. There are also peer groups that are already well established and therefore building ensemble amongst the entire group is very difficult. However, I am delighted that this current term’s students have been a revelation. We have now got to a place where all members are really committed to working with and supporting each other in their work. This performance marks the first performance for many of the students and so we wanted to keep it simple but solid, giving everyone a good chance to perform.

Windmill Young Actors is dedicated to providing affordable after-school drama classes for schools and their parents.

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