bringing stories to life

Learning goals: Integrating different aspects of art (theatre, art, creative writing) into a single project

Activities: Creating short skits

We presented the kids with a choice of artworks and each one picked a single picture – so each group had about four kids. They were asked to put observations of all their pictures together and create a single story as a group. They either each noted down their ideas and one student scripted the story. In another case, they discussed as they went along, considering each others’ ideas and melding them together to write the story. After they recited it to us, the kids were given paper and colour supplies to make costumes as they were going to perform the stories as plays. The plays took all of two minutes each but the kids enjoyed the process.

Insights/surprises: Some kids are good leaders and committed to the exercise whereas some, who are rather disruptive, can affect the behavior of the whole class. There were two kids who were outright disobedient and that disregard translates to noise and stubbornness, which is in turn disruptive to the whole session. Once we were finished, we gave them a small talk based on the experiences of the writing and the theatre portion – they needed to learn to respect the person presenting at the time and not interrupt people onstage, as well as to behave in the workshop and to do as asked.

They did get quite inventive in building boats, parachutes and hourglass headpieces, among other things. Left to themselves in a group with a project of this magnitude fostered more communication and cooperation than we’ve seen before, and more innovation too.

Finally, it’s always the ones you think will come who don’t necessarily continue…meanwhile we have some “ruffian” boys who are really into the workshops, and now their little brother comes as well.

Workshop feedback: The kids really enjoyed this highly involved workshop and got really excited about their creations.

Continuing challenges: We lack funding for the more ambitious elements of the workshop series, like the field trip and exhibition. Afternoon workshops also result in a drop-off in attendance, but there isn’t much we can do about that, given work schedules. We’re also thinking about the best place to install the final project – we’re wondering if it’s possible to prop it up at the Mattakkuliya junction. (Muradh will talk to Varuna and get back to us about whether that’s possible.) Finally, we trying to think of ways to get the kids to take on leadership roles in future.

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