Sunday, 3 May 2009

Norwood Girls School- workshop no1

Norwood Girls School - Brixton - 30th April - 1.00-4.00pm

Last week myself and Monsay were asked to attend another class with BOT at the Norwood Girl School. The group were looking at the play called 'Little Sweet Thing' by Roy Williams and we were asked to perform a scene from it. Monsay had recently performed in a production of this play so she had a great understanding of it. They chose for us to work on a scene between a student and a teacher so they could look at the relationship and discuss it in the session. The section was from page 68- 74 where the teacher Miss Jules has stopped a fight between Tash and another girl. I took the role of Miss Jules, as we had realised earlier on that i was good at authority roles and Monsay was good at being the victim, the person who was being oppressed as the audience could relate to her more. On Wednesday, myself and Monsay met with Zeph, who is one of the facilitators for this group, so he could help direct us in the scene. He guided us with the staging and with the true intentions of each character. It really helped having a direct present as he was able to see what worked and what didn't work, and also gave us confidence. Also before the session we met up with the other facilitator for Norwood, Sheila Preston, who used to work at St Marys University, but now works at Central School of Speech and Drama. She was very friendly and helpful and was looking forward to what we had prepared for the session.

The workshop:

I have to be honest, i was very tired before the session, as I had gotten up at 6am to go to the COLA workshop and was exhausted for the rest of the day. But when we entered the ask i immediately woke up. The girls welcomed us in straight away, all acknowledged us and said hello. There are eight girls in the class, all black. We introduced ourselves and what we were doing, and instantly they said they liked Monsays voice and what she was wearing. They connected straight away with Monsay as Monsay grew up in North London and has a similar background and lifestyle to them. I on the other hand have no similar grounds with them, except that I'm a woman studying drama!

We all checked in, and this time i noticed some low numbers in the group. Most of them didn't want to give an explanation why, just simply said that's how they feel.

To warm up we started off with a name game called 'Budge', where you all sit in a circle, before leaving your chair you have to say someones name and 'budge' then walk towards them. They then need to say someones name to be saved. If you don't say someones name before the person gets to you then your out, and if you leave your chair without saying the name first you're also out. The game was fun and as there was lots of pressure, it helped me to remember peoples names. Zeph then introduced the 'Blind Bottle' game, which was enjoyed by all.

The class was half way through reading Little Sweet Thing, so we continued reading until it got to the scene me and Monsay had worked on. We performed the scene to the class and the response we got was great. They responded well to Monsay's character Tash as they saw a softer side to her and realised she's just in a bad place at the moment. They really liked seeing the relationship between Miss Jules and Tash come alive. It fleshed out the characters for them and it gave them an illustration of the scene to feed off rather than just seeing it as a text. We were then asked to be hot seated, which we weren't prepared for! Monsay went first as Tash. She really captured the essence of Tash and stayed in character throughout. The girls said they learnt a lot about Tash which helped their understanding of the play. Then it was my turn as Miss Jules. I didn't know the background of the play or the character so i just had to think about how i portrayed the character in the scene and work off that. I feel i answered the questions well and i gave a fair outline of Miss Jules. The class were great at asking questions and they were all eager to find out more. The hot seating allowed for them to be experts on the play and ask questions about situations that came before of after the scene. They completely took ownership of the play.

We then continued to read on. I noticed that only three or four members of the class were enthusiastic about reading. Sheila told us that last week a lot more of them read, but maybe they felt a bit shy in front of new people and they may have felt some pressure into reading at a high standard. During the reading, if they don't understand what is happening they will stop and ask Sheila to explain. They will also offer up their own interpretations of the scene and characters. Towards the end of the session some of the girls were becoming quite restless and distracted and started becoming disruptive during the readings.

The group is quite competitive and aren't afraid to say what they are feeling and what they think. The group have calmed down a lot from when they first started out, but there are still some boisterous girls in the class, and you can tell who they are straight away! The group did start off with eleven, but they all selected out as they weren't interested in it. The sessions aren't for everyone and you have to be ready to change and work hard in them. I felt i bonded quite well with the group and me and Monsay were very pleased with the outcome of our work. The group really liked us being there too and have asked us to come back next week. I guess its nice for them to have a change in the group so everything seems fresh and doesn't become stale and boring for them. I really look forward to next weeks session with them., even if i will be very very tired!

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