Our first course us is for children aged 9 – 10, referred to us by the local primary schools. Children attend weekly after-school classes working alongside volunteer theatre professionals in a mixture of group drama activities and one to one writing time.
The central focus of the course is The Writing Weekend, where the children meet and interview the professional actors who will perform their plays. Each child then works alongside their own dramaturg/mentor, who acts as scribe and facilitator as they write their own short two-character play. They are encouraged to exercise their imaginations by writing non-human characters, which range from the bizarre to the seemingly impossible!
Ten teams of two actors and one director each rehearse the plays and the children attend a full company rehearsal before the culmination of the course in four public performances. These performances have high production values including spectacular costumes, hand-made cartoon-style props and slick technical effects. Children join the actors for company warm-up sessions before each show. Each child sits in a special ‘Playwright’s Chair’ for the performance of their play before taking a bow on stage alongside their professional actors. By the end of the course each child is a confirmed Scene & Heard Member Playwright.
We now have a teacher’s pack that can be used to teach the Playmaking One course,
Playwriting the Scene & Heard Way. Click here to find out more.
A year after Playmaking One we invite the children back to work with us again. Replay builds on the previous course, further developing their creative writing skills as they introduce a third character into their drama. This character’s appearance is brief and its purpose is to change the course of the action. In performance, the same actor, ‘The Third Man’, plays the third character in all of these plays. Again each Member Playwright receives public affirmation as they take their playwright’s bow.
Find out about Replay and The Third Man >>
A weekend workshop course that does not lead to a full production, Stage One is open to children aged 11 – 13 who have completed Playmaking One and Replay. It combines writing with teaching the Member Playwrights some basic acting skills.
Each child is partnered with a volunteer theatre professional and together they devise and rehearse a short play which they then perform as a rehearsed reading to an invited audience of volunteers, family and friends.
Our fourth course is performance-based. The young people aged 12 – 14 have a play especially written for them by a professional writer. Each Member Playwright is then partnered with a professional actor and the teams rehearse their plays with a director in readiness for a technical and performance week during half term. The young people perform alongside their professional actor in fully produced plays with the same high production values as Playmaking One and Replay.
Our fifth course combines writing and performance skills and is open to anyone who has completed the previous four courses. Each participant, in partnership with a dramaturg, writes their own short two-character play for themselves and an adult to perform. A professional writer then writes a ‘Response Play’ featuring the same two characters that the young person has created. Both plays are performed back-to-back by the young person and their actor.
Writeback is designed to offer a more sophisticated playwriting opportunity to our older Member Playwrights; in particular, those who do not wish to perform. The writing element of the course takes place during the summer holidays at an institution within The Knowledge Quarter. Each young person creates a character for a professional actor to perform and inherits a character from someone else. They then write a two-character scene without knowing what the characters have already done or may go on to do. The resulting scenes create one long relay play where characters move in and out of each other’s stories. The pilot of this course took place in 2017 at The Foundling Museum culminating in a production at Theatro Technis.