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?