Aspiring thespians from Harlow spent February’s half-term developing their theatrical skills in a series of workshops funded by a Jack Petchey Small Grant. Over three days, more than thirty schoolchildren from around Harlow worked with tutors at the Livewire Trust which runs regular community theatre projects for young people.
The workshops were based on the style of film director Mike Leigh, Naked 1993, Secrets and Lies (1996), and Vera Drake (2004) who famously uses lengthy improvisations to build characters and storylines for his films.
Project Leader Sam Ashford said, “We wanted to create robust and realistic characters, put them in different situations and see what happens! A key part of the workshops was to learn not to act, not to try to entertain and instead, simply be true to your own individual character. This is quite a challenging concept but the young people really enjoyed it and we saw some wonderful improvisations that ran for up to twenty minutes!”
After establishing characters and devising a story during the workshops, the young dramatists are developing a theatre piece addressing issues affecting young people to be performed to a local audience in the near future.
As well as giving Livewire Trust members the chance to develop their improvisational skills, the workshops provided an opportunity for theatrical newcomers to try a new activity during the half-term break. A number of young people who took part in the workshops have since joined the regular sessions, which take place on Monday evenings at Longwood Primary School.
Jack Petchey Foundation Grants Officer for Essex, Nikki Casey said, “The Livewire Trust projects are very inclusive and help to develop not only theatrical ability, but also individual’s self-esteem and levels of trust among young people. These workshops are a great way to spend time constructively over the school holiday’s, whether you’re an aspiring dramatist or not!”
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