Act Out… Write Up – Four schools, Workshops with a playwright, A showcase performance at Curve, A published book of scripts…
‘Our year 5 and 6 children loved working with Rob, who really fired their imaginations! Thursday afternoons became an exciting time for all of us! Under Rob’s guidance they learnt how an idea can be developed and expanded into an imaginative and entertaining piece of writing. Being able to watch their own plays performed by professional actors at the Curve was a fantastic end to the project and a memorable experience for all of them.‘
Whitwick St John the Baptist CE Primary School
Mantle Arts worked with playwright, performer and poet Rob Gee and four schools in Leicestershire on a series of creative workshops to encourage and enable young people at all stages of writing ability to explore theatre writing, create their own scripts and produce their own short plays. A selection of the plays were produced and rehearsed by a professional cast and director, Phil Coggins, then showcased in a special matinee performance for the schools, family and friends at Curve in Leicester.
“Often, in life, we say things without thinking because really we want to say something else but are afraid, nervous or embarrassed. These are the things that can create really interesting drama in a script. Bringing a play to life begins in my head, as I try to imagine the story unfolding in a theatre space. Then, with the actors, we read the scripts so I can hear the voices of the characters. I try not to read along with the actors, rather listen to the words and imagine the story in my head. At the next stage, the actors play with the scripts in their hands. Moving about a space, imagining, pretending, improvising action in response to the plays. My focus shifts from imagining the story to thinking of the audience experience – can they understand what is going on? Is there a sub-text, another story here underneath the words?
When we presented the scripts to the young authors, they sat for over an hour engrossed in the dramas being played out. There was laughter and moments of silence (they please me more than laughter as it tells me the audience are totally gripped). Most of the scripts were funny, some had serious issues but told with humour, some had ambitions and dreams within them. Some of the stories we found baffling (in a good way.) Without the writer in the room alongside us to answer our questions we have to suppose and look for clues in the words on the page. Everybody has a story to tell, and everybody loves a good story told to them.”