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Online Drama Clubs from Creation Theatre

Join Creation Theatre on an enchanting journey to fantastical creatures and incredible characters whilst exploring 12 classic stories. 12-week course with 60-minute workshop each week.
Photo credit: Richard Budd

September 11, 2020
A mixed railway ride

The Railway Children taster session

This was a tricky write-up for me, and quite so tricky that I was even delayed in getting it finished for which I humbly beg pardon. The tricky part is that we love the Creation Theatre Company, but in the end my daughter Maya (8) didn’t love this session.

Maya helped contribute to another write-up for an online workshop for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ from the same company which she absolutely loved when she joined in the early weeks of UK lockdown back in April - you can find our rave review of that below.

Now granted, I think that children and adults alike are a little more burned out with online interaction than we all were in April. Most of my family-and-friends weekly quiz nights have naturally wound their way around to eating their own tails now that we’re more able to connect face-to-face again (albeit at a remove of a few steps!).

I think kids are a little less enthralled with the screen now as well. Aversion by over-exposure perhaps. Still we always have a lot of time for anything involving acting, hence our natural enthusiasm to take part in this session.

The other thing that differed this time was that it was a bigger group, eighteen in all. Maya spoke about it being harder to see and hear people, about more children having connection issues, sound and video not always syncing up so well, and so forth. Possibly some of this could have been at our end of course, and it’s an occupational hazard of Zooming, as we all know well by now!

Maya recounted various activities, including the adventure from the book of trying to flag down the train to stop it colliding with a landslide on the tracks. She described the activity of waving red things in the air as “a little boring.” One activity which went down better was celebrating a friend’s birthday, thinking about gifts for that family member and the teacher then showing screenshare of relevant images of those imagined presents.

Maya mentioned that gallery view seemed to be in use most of the time unless the teacher was speaking. I guess this is also a difficult compromise in Zoom with large groups, between letting everyone be seen, and letting there be focus on the current participant in an activity. She recounted some activities as seeming to have been “rushed through” and said that whilst the teacher was funny and friendly he did seem to address the group as if they were “younger”. She said she struggled a little to maintain interest.

One thing Maya particularly liked in the session was the use of effects. A moustache effect was used at one point, overlaying on the faces of participants, and a train effect and linked activity where the children appeared as if in the window of a train. She did note though that everyone took a turn and it “took a long time to get through.”

Her favourite activity was the courtroom one in which everyone voted on the verdict for the father of the story who was on trial accused of being a double agent. The voting was done privately by clicking a button and it was fun, reported Maya, to see the results at the end. She did note regretfully that this, along with most of the other activities, didn’t seem to her to involve a great deal of acting. There was waving out of a train, acting like a train, being a still image in a newspaper showing differing emotions, but overall Maya longed for more opportunity in the session to be creative and to act, for more chance to speak in character.

She did like the story though - she’s going to read it! And we’ll be staying big fans of the Creation Theatre Company as a whole. I do hope we get to see an actual outdoor performance from them again sometime soon - I’d love Maya to see one of their Shakespeare productions.

April 20, 2020
Full-on acting on screen

If the lockdown has taught us something, it is that we can learn almost anything online. However, few resources will be as interactive and engaging as the Drama Club run by Creation Theatre. I was actually concerned about adding another date to the already very busy online agenda of my eight year old, but when I heard about Creation Theatre I knew that at least with this club she was going to be very active, moving around the sitting room and not as quiet as she is when concentrating on her maths and writing tasks.

It was a very pleasant surprise to see that from the very first activity this was going to be much more than a pretend game with an adult involved. There were eight children on Zoom with brilliant guides for the session, Andy and Ellie, who ran the Sprites group, aimed at children aged 5 to 10. Andy was charismatic and very welcoming; Ellie supported him, doing the activities with the children enthusiastically.

It was pleasing to see how the participants quickly became very comfortable thanks to engaging in answering questions about the mysterious bunny rabbit. It was also interesting to realize that these “new normal” interactions online between children and teacher are not so new to them anymore, after just a few weeks.

The session was based on Alice in Wonderland, and they did not waste any time in taking the participants down the rabbit hole. To begin with, the children were each set a task related to key selected moments from the story, without needing much more than a bit of space and a few improvised and easy-to-find props. For the first task my daughter had to find and roll a sheet of paper and then place it on the camera and look through it. All the children did the same and Andy took a screenshot to show them the result. They were looking through the rabbit hole. The screenshot was so artistic and effective that I spent a good amount of time wondering how they were going to engage the children in equally creative ways for each of the forthcoming activities. I would spoil this review if I told you all of their secrets. But I am sure that they must have thought about every detail very carefully - they came up with such engrossing ideas.

The production of this club was also meticulously prepared. Andy and Ellie were supported by other actors who appeared in cameo video segments designed to inspire the children. The actors were dressed as Alice in Wonderland characters and their performances were very stimulating. My daughter particularly enjoyed doing tongue twisters, following the instructions of the Queen of Hearts. She had huge and wide open eyes, her lips were painted in the shape of a heart and it seemed impossible not to be grasped by the strength of her gestures.

The participants seemed to be completely immersed in Alice’s world and the involved realms of acting. I am sure that they learnt not only about how to impersonate creatures and characters, but also something of camera use, perspectives, lighting, colours and textures, as well as mimicry, pronunciation and fluency. Doesn’t that sound remarkable for a single one-hour Drama Club session?

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