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Drama workshops for primary pupils

Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by debhogan, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. Hello
    I was wondering whether anyone could advise. I am a Year 5 class teacher tasked with planning (with a view to implementing in a few weeks) the drama element of our year group's Collaborative Arts week. The theme is the Olympics and I have sketched out a plan for the week. The week will incorporate planning, creating, rehearsal and performance. I will have approximately 8-10 hours work of actual sessions (with approximately 30 children). I am an NQT and don't really have any prior experience of putting on a school performance.

    My idea is to have 5 separate "scenes" from different Olympic eras: Ancient Greece, 1st modern Olympics, 1st Olympics at which women could compete, 1939 Berlin, lead up to London 2012. I am envisaging that there will be a roving reporter type character who will narrate and conduct interviews with the characters. The scenes themselves will be silent.

    My issue is with planning each of the sessions that will contribute to the final piece. I believe that each session will be 1 hour long (interspersed by regular lessons). I am thinking that some of these sessions need to be on actual acting skills and creating the scenes themselves - this is where I would value specific advise as I am not trained in drama and performance. How much of the prep work will I need to do myself in terms of researching the period and deciding how the information should be conveyed in play form, and how much can I expect the pupils to be able to achieve?

    Any thoughts or ideas gratefully received.
    Best wishes,
  2. Hello
    I would consider using ensemble and have two people that link each scene with very short narration (roving reporter is a good idea or someone who doesn't understand the Olympics so the teams job is to teach them.) Open with this.
    I would also advise having a prologue and epilogue that the children co write with you that introduces the audience to what they will see and where they will go. It works really well if it rhymes and all the children are involved all doing exactly the same actions and using the same intonation (great opener!). If you begin with this is sets the discipline but also the idea that this is a whole team effort and that we will only succeed by working together. Asking them to create simple actions for each lines also ensures the whole process is co constructed.
    i would then split the classes in to small groups and have four/five per scene (called an episode!) and tell them that this is their special episode and their moment to shine. That way everyone gets to demonstrate what they are good at as well as having a key moment to use what ever skills they have. Support them to devise their own scenes but keep them short and succinct. They really respond well to this and moves away from those awful plays where the usual kids get to be the stars and the rest feel left out! You also discover secret talents doing this!
    The roving reporters look on to each episode and just link (easier to rehearse then!) In terms of staging have all the children sat in either small groups around the edge of the stage or in a semi circle and they just get up when it is there section. Another good idea is to have small choral moments in the link scenes as this keep them all watching and involved. Try and encourage each scene to be slightly different so that one may be comedic, one may be movement, one involves a song, one is verbatim etc
    Be very clear about what you want the information to be and keep it very succinct for each scene. Give them ownership over the style and how it will be done but this keeps them devising on the same track.
    I would def begin by sitting down and saying what the content will be, exploring the content practically e.g. through freeze frames etc (as they will give ideas here) and then structure the actual episodes. E.g. the roving reporters link each one but which one should we have first? Do we think this should be funny or perhaps we could use movement? once you have a clear structure and style then ask them which episode they would like to be in (don't forget to ask what secret skills they have as this can be built in or be the basis for an episode!) then write the prologue with the group and begin with learning the prologue, discussing the vocal intonation and what action we could do with each line. This makes it a collaborative process from the beginning.
    I wouldn't just have silent scenes as you are in danger of it becoming very dry and boring. Creating theatre with children needs to be both about the process as well as the product. Kids can be brilliant and creative and setting this undermines what they are capable of.
    With the separate scenes it really depends on the children's experience of drama. They may need support or could have more of a free reign but I would be tempted to sketch it out with them and always show back at the end of the session asking the group for positive feedback. Start each session using the prologue as a warm up and then finally piece together with a short epilogue. I have used this structure a lot (the last time was with year five classes from five different primary schools where we had over 180 pupils all performing together! great fun. )
    email me emma@bramleyapplecreative.com if you want some more info about how to structure a devising session. Good luck and have fun!!
  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a comprehensive response, it's much appreciated! I may well email you once I have drawn this together more. Many thanks!
  4. angelinascullina

    angelinascullina New commenter

    If you want something scripted have a look at OLYMPICS: THE NAKED TRUTH by Angela and Andrew Scullin. It is basically what you described - a history of the Olympics narrated by sports commentators with songs too. It is as cheap as chips and you could use that as a starting point to explore other technical aspects of performance. Just a thought.
    Good luck
    Angela Scullin [​IMG]
  5. You might find this useful.


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