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The Gaiety School of Acting

Despite the fact that scientific developments permeate and enrich the lives of young people on a daily, or even hourly basis, studies across Europe are identifying pockets of this demographic that are struggling to relate to and engage with the science curriculum in the classroom. According to Science Foundation Ireland’s 2015 Science Barometer report, young women from less affluent backgrounds are less inclined to identify with science education at second level. This has a direct impact on the number of students from this demographic advancing to third level and ultimately working within the field.

Drilling down further into the statistics, researchers have found that young women from a cultural minority background or who identify as LGBTQIAP+ are even less likely to develop a positive scientific identity, meaning a far reduced number of people from these societal groups tend to aspire to careers in science.

With the aim to address these gaps in science engagement, The Gaiety School of Acting has teamed up with partners from Ireland, Finland, Poland and Holland to investigate ways in which performance, and specifically comedy improvisation, can be utilised by science educators to impact on their students in a new and dynamic way. The three year I-Stem  project, supported by the Erasmus Plus fund, began on September 1st 2020.

In its first publication ‘Creative Methods in Science Teaching – Ways Forward!’ an e-book resource for teachers, STEM subjects are related to arts. Use of arts in education tell us something about society: our educational systems and its angles of entry are creating the scientists of tomorrow. The combination of arts and science gives us a better starting point to develop our full potential which is needed when creating something new.

The publication has a preface video from Dr. Niamh Shaw, to view go to istem-project.eu/e-book/

This publication presents research and best practices of using arts as a means of improving pedagogy and classroom practice in STEM education. In these pages “STEAM” represents STEM plus the arts–humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media. It draws on theoretical understandings of arts in STEM disciplines to illustrate how researchers and practitioners are using creative initiatives to promote inclusive teaching approaches.

The e-book is aimed at post-primary school teachers who are currently using arts within their teaching practice or have an interest in doing so in the future. Examples of STEAM teaching in Poland, the Netherlands, Ireland and Finland are given. It is not intended to provide a fully comprehensive exploration of all aspects of arts in STEM disciplines. The I-Stem Project acknowledges the necessary limitations of this resource, but trusts that it will serve its purpose of guiding you through the main relevant concepts, and that it will give you insights and inspiration for your teaching.

To download the resource go to istem-project.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/I-STEM_e-book.pdf

The Ark

Available until 31 December

Explore the importance of all creatures small and large in this video drama workshop from The Ark for ages 2-4 with their grown-ups led by Early Years Artist in Residency Joanna Parkes.

Mouse may be small and shy, but does that mean he can’t help the lion? Let’s see!

Using the Aesop’s Fable of The Mouse and The Lion as a starting point, pack your make-believe backpacks, set off to find the proud lion and see where your imaginations can take you.

If you like, you can bring a few things with you:

A cushion
A small bag or backpack
A soft toy (any favourite cuddly animal will do)
Wear an adventurer’s hat of any kind if you want!

Combining drama, story and play, this video workshop invites little ones and their grown-ups to enjoy imagining together. So if you’re a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunty, godparent or carer, join in with a 2 to 4 year old to discover, explore and create together in this delightful workshop adventure.

Recommended:

Watch Free Online – ark.ie/events/view/video-workshop-lion-mouse

For ages 2-4 and their grown-ups
Video duration: Approx. 15 mins, plus pauses for you to pretend and play in your own time at home

 

Gaiety School of Acting

Recognising the struggle so many parents are currently facing as they broach the mountainous task of home schooling their children during the Coronavirus restrictions, the Gaiety School of Acting has released a series of comprehensive and fun lesson plans to inject a little creativity and some POSITIVE drama to your household.

With 34 years experience in drama training, the Gaiety School of Acting teaches over 2000 children across their Young Gaiety schools in Bray, Malahide and Temple Bar annually, in a range of classes from Parent and Toddler Drama to Musical Theatre Company, Acting for Camera to an eclectic offering of seasonal camps.

Our Home Drama Resources have been developed by the GSA’s education team, and in addition to creative drama, provide a selection of science, craft and film-making activities for you and your children to explore a variety of themes, have fun, and escape from reality!

Every Thursday a new resource is released with the following themes already available on the website: The Lion King, Harry Potter, Roald Dahl, Monsters from the Movies, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

For further information and to access downloadable resources go to gaietyschool.com/home-resources/

 

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Dates: 4th, 5th, 6th – 9th of March 2020

Barnstorm Theatre Company is delighted to present its new production of ‘Alice and the Wolf’ by Tom Swift.

Alice spends virtually all her time in Wolf Wood. You know, the world’s deepest, darkest online game. Why not? Her dad isn’t around, her mother’s gone to Canada to meet a lumberjack and her best friend’s dumped her for a YouTube star.

But what happens when the people you meet online come looking for you in real life? Who can you trust, and who is the Big Bad Wolf? This re-telling of the Little Red Riding Hood story is a digital fairy tale that’s deliciously funny and full of dangerously dark twists.

Workshop
For County Kilkenny schools attending the play, we offer two in-school workshops:

These sessions are optional and capacity is limited, therefore they will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

Teachers’ Resources
A resource pack will be provided to participating teachers. Linked to the SPHE syllabus, the pack will provide a focus for exploration and discussion of themes raised through the play.

Performances of ‘Alice and the Wolf’ will take place at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny.

Dates & Times

Wednesday 04 March at 11.30am
Thursday 05, Friday 06 and Monday 09 March 2020 at 10.00am & 12.30pm

School Group Rate €10, one teacher free with each booking of 12

For more information or to obtain a resource pack, please contact Barnstorm Theatre at admin@barnstorm.ie, or call us on 056 7751266

Tickets are available online at watergatetheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873615598

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

In February 2018 Landmark Productions and Everyman Theatre Cork approached us to ask what ancillary activities would we be organizing around the production of ‘Asking For It’ they were planning to stage in June and which would subsequently transfer to the Abbey in November.

We all saw the necessity to involve young people in the story and so aside from the Abbey’s usual provision of post-show talks and podcasts we decided to take the work into schools as directly as possible. We planned a structure of pre and post show workshops to support any school who was going to see the play. We also committed to the creation of a teachers study pack which could appeal to many levels of ability.

After speaking about schools visits to Louise O’Neill, the author of the novel on which the play was based, it became clear that we needed specific training in dealing with this project. Louise’s disturbing experience had been that in nearly every school she had visited herself at least one young woman had disclosed she had experienced sexual assault.

On 24th July we hosted a workshop by Tender UK a theatre company that specializes in exploring issues of abuse with post primary students. On their advice we changed the original plan of having a sole female facilitator to having workshops run by both a male and female so they could model healthy gender relationships. That’s when I stopped just managing the project and stepped in as co-facilitator.

Based on her previous work with the Abbey we contacted actor and facilitator Aoibheann McCaul and she and I planned the post-show workshop together. Aoibheann also attended a training session at the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Aoibheann and Phil started visiting schools in October using applied drama to explore the students’ sense of the characters involved in the story and any links they had to students’ own sense of gender roles, friendship dynamics and sexual consent. These pre-show workshops were introductory and often didn’t go into the ethics of consent or even the plot of the play if the students’ weren’t already aware of the story. We wanted the students to experience it theatrically. For those that were aware of the book though, we found that for some the issues of assault were still unclear, “Well she took him into the room so she was asking for it, wasn’t she?”

The groups went to performances of ‘Asking For It’ at the Abbey Theatre and met a couple of the cast afterwards.  The actors had all volunteered to talk to the students and were eager to engage with their responses. These ranged from the shy and practical (“How do learn your lines?”) to more in depth enquiries “How do you play someone so nasty?” “Why did you choose to do this particular play?” “What’s it like having to play Emma over and over again?”. One all-girl’s school which had been skeptical about assault changed their view completely and demanded their teachers give them better sex education in future especially about consent.

Aiobheann and Phil then returned do the schools for a two hour long post show workshop that built on the previously introduced techniques of statues, tableaux and walking in character to explore how both the characters and the students themselves had changed over the course of the evening.

As with the pre-show workshops we used a basic drama technique to encourage recollection  of a lived moment e.g. “How did you feel at the interval of the play?” or “What moment do you remember most about the beginning of the show?” and then encouraged others to ‘read’ these and reflect upon them.  The majority of the workshop was taken up with creating tableaux of the most striking moments of play and then exploring what could have been going through the characters minds at the time. This meant we could explore many of the themes of the work –gender dynamics, peer pressure, sexual consent, family tension – from inside realistic illustrations of how these manifest in behavior. Some highlights of this were the complex dynamics of single gender friendship groups, what was going through the minds of the young men while they were assaulting Emma, how Emma’s father uses emotional blackmail to reinforce her decision to drop the charges.

We also looked at how characters’ lives were changed by the events of the play and again found quite a range of responses from those who thought e.g. Zoe would be 1/ glad that she could now “Take over Emma’s place as top girl.” to  “/ Zoe will be even more cowed by the knowledge her assailant, Dylan, has avoided prosecution for a second assault. It was in this section that the students really got to see the differences in their views.

There was quite a range of responses with the majority of students becoming more understanding and articulate about the circumstances that led to Emma’s choices and how she had been raped. Our touchstone was whether they saw Emma’s encounter with Paul at the party as consensual or not (Emma is plainly on drugs and asks him to wait which he ignores). Before the show this encounter separated out those who had considered the theme of consent in any depth from those who followed conventional option.

Generally the more depth of engagement with the story and characters resulted in a more sympathetic response to the play and more varied and satisfying discussion. One school was already putting on their own play about consent looking at an incident from different viewpoints and our work here became much more do do with teasing out the nuances of motivation in the subsidiary characters e.g. why the mother was drinking, or how the father was avoiding responsibility when asking Emma if she really wanted to drop the charges.  We were surprised to find in another school they still felt Emma had been “asking for it” because she had taken drugs and therefore implicitly consented. In this school there was less empathy for the characters and many of them talked about Emma as ‘a girl like that would’ indicating the distance they felt to her. The work here was harder because the students seemed entrenched in their positions and surprised and resistance to being asked to question them.

The most dramatic changed came with one all girls school who in the pre-show had felt Emma had encouraged Paul. By the end of the show and in the post show workshops they were clear that the sexual double standards evident in society and the lack of appropriate sex education in the field of content were unacceptable.

At the time of writing this we have two more schools to visit. One, a private male only boarding school, will offer the most challenging work as some of the pupils were already defensive and dismissive of the whole premise of the story, believing it to be unrealistic and diverting the debate with arguments that some women lie, men get raped too etc….we were specifically asked to work here by an existing teacher because they felt attitudes towards women needed to be challenged.

For follow on work we created a Study Pack with an analysis of the play and its themes but also extra ancillary material on the history of consent in Ireland, plans of the pre and post show workshops, blogs by students form Cork who’d seen the original production and an example of a homegrown consent workshops. We also asked the pack’s main author, critic and activist Saoirse Anton, to contribute an essay on the connection between consumer culture and rape culture.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Phil Kingston, Community & Education Manager & Co-Facilitator

After speaking to Louise I had concerns about the work triggering traumatic experiences in the participants while remaining convinced it was essential young people be given a chance to engage with the issues directly; no amount of older generations talking about the topic of consent was going to make nearly as much difference as exploring it with their peers. I saw this clearly when attending a town hall meeting arranged by the Everyman Theatre and Land mark productions in Ballincollig where teacher Tim Burke arranged for his class to discuss the play with Louise O’Neil, Mary Crilly of the Cork Rape Crisis Centre. It was obvious the students previous discussions contributed to the depth and sympathy of their opinions as well as their intolerance of the lazy, self interested and vicious social forces that perpetuate rape culture.

So the visit of Tender UK was an eye opener about the depth of ignorance and indifference to young women’s agency they had encountered in schools already.  This prepared me for the casualness with which both young men and young women dismissed lead characters Emma’s behaviour as “asking for it”. It was still a challenge though especially when revisiting one inner city school after the play to find that many of the students opinions hadn’t changed and that “girls like that are half responsible”.

Methodologically all six schools proved so varied in responsiveness that we had to continually adapt our approach. This is more a highlight than a challenge because one of the pleasures of applied drama are those in-the-moment improvisations that help coax a non-responsive teenage into someone passionately arguing their point of view. It was also a pleasure to work closely with another facilitator, to be able to hand on to them and observe the different spin the took on what the young people were producing, to debrief and discuss afterwards and to have the space observe the students out of the main focus while your partner led.

All the groups became more responsive and engaged as the workshops went on, often prompting surprised teachers to exclaim how certain pupils were ‘coming out’ of themselves or asserting themselves more than usual. This may have been to do with the kinesthetic aspect of the work unlocking some student’s expressiveness ( a common enough result for applied drama) but also, especially with the young women, a reflection that the topic of gender inequality and consent was important enough to them to ‘raise their game’.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Seeing the play, which is very clear that the protagonist does not explicitly consent, wasn’t always enough to cut through the view that young women who take drugs, dress with sexual confidence and have sexual appetites must take responsibility if they are raped.

Every teacher we talked to was adamant their charges needed to be talking about this topic and as early in their school lives as possible.

There was one all boys schools that we were explicitly asked to visit because of the teachers’ concern about attitudes to women. The young men were indeed defensive and quick to offer counter examples of women lying about rape and we had to be clear the book and play of Asking For It are unequivocal in their depiction of an actual assault. The instinct to deflect the discussion then took an unusual route when they started to dismiss the story itself as unrealistic (“Those pictures would never have been left up there for so long”) and therefore not needing to be engaged with.

Despite having been worried, as mentioned previously, and prepared for the possibility that some participants might disclose that they had experienced assault the fast moving and generally fun nature of the workshops meant we never got to a space where this might have happened. We ensured that schools counsellors were aware of the work and many of them attended or kept in close communication. While the topics weren’t treated frivolously there was more a sense of the young people appreciated the respect shown by having them discuss them.

We were also worried that rules about reporting young people under 17 who revealed they had active sex lives would inhibit the discussion. This never happened and we managed to talk at length and in depth through the lens of the play and its characters without compromising any of the individuals involved.

Students Responses

‘The play had a huge effect on my awareness of my surroundings and really made me appreciate the life I have as the struggles portrayed in the play were devastating’. 

‘When the play was over it made me think how the word ‘rape’ is not being discussed as a problem. People are uneducated about the topic when they should’.

‘The play was very intense, the actors were very good at acting out their roles. By them doing this, it made the play very realistic’. 

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

A renewed enthusiasm to work with young people on ‘difficult’ topics.

A desire to continue to co-facilitate where resources allow.

A plan to use young people’s voice s more in the creation of study packs

Update from Phil Kingston, Community & Education Manager & Co-Facilitator

Facilitator Johanna Webb and I returned to the all boys school and were told a third of the class were in Australia on a school trip and this meant our two workshops would be smaller.

This was a very different encounter with these privileged and, mainly, self-confident young men. Before, with larger groups of 20-25, the atmosphere had been alternately raucous and resistant with obvious leaders asserting their authority and more introverted personalities being muted by the sheer size and testosterone levels.

This time there wasn’t any possibility of hiding and Joanna and I chose to take a very candid approach in the hope it would create openness all round. We told them how concerned we had been at the previous workshops, how genuinely interested in their responses we were and how we appreciated the difficult position they were in (that they had little contact with young women and that they might feel attacked by the topics we were discussing). After moving through some responses obviously designed to give us what we wanted they started to actually say what they thought, prefaced with such remarks as ” I know this is an unpopular opinion but..” Once they saw they weren’t getting jumped on the whole workshop took off.

(My thanks here to Louise O’Neill who sent me an article about sex education in America which prompted us to focus more on these young men’s ignorance than their antagonism.)

We kept to our existing structure of exercises which explored the play ( walking around as different characters at different points in the story, making tableaux of significant moments) and the commitment was as mixed as any group but really these were just a springboard to keep discussing the themes of the play. Some preoccupations emerged – how culpable are you for your actions if you are drunk, how inhibited by convention the parents were, how over the top the lads were presented. The turning point was asking them, if were they Conor, would they take advantage of Emma’s offer to have sex in the second half of the play. Their outraged refusals introduced the idea of conscience and by the end of each workshop they had all agreed that really you always ‘know’ if you are overstepping the bounds of respect for another person’s autonomy regardless of how drunk you are.

The final exercise is choosing lines from the play (spread out on the floor in front of them) and talking about why they are significant. Several of these are from Emma when she is doubting her own position “e.g. Maybe I am a slut”. They were all clear this was an example of someone betraying themselves out of a desire to ‘get back to normal’. They also talked about their own fears of how to approach the whole area of sex and when two exchange students from France and Spain talked with obvious experience of having reflected on these topics you could see, past the odd embarrassed titter, that the Irish boys were impressed less at the achievement and more at the maturity. They all acknowledged the urge to brag about sexual conquests and how difficult it was to talk with the sensitivity they were displaying now when in the company of other young men. We did point out they were doing it there and then.

They came across as frightened, confused and tender-hearted, with no problem individually understanding Emma’s situation but also subject to a culture that made this empathy almost impossible to act upon. They seemed glad to have had the chance to talk openly and were noticeably more honest in the first workshop when we were left unsupervised for the last ten minutes.

Out of a possible 30 we only worked with 20 but these included the young man who’d previously called one of the characters ‘a pregnant bitch’ ( showing not only casual misogyny but a complete misunderstanding of the play) and another who’d been disruptively cynical. Both these behaviours disappeared quickly in the atmosphere of seriousness that the topics demanded. The teachers were amazed by how responsive some of the boys were but I wasn’t surprised that once they were listened to they re-discovered this sense of responsibility.

Before, after first visiting this school, I felt I’d seen the breeding ground for not only the rugby players in the Belfast rape trial but also the barristers who so calmly used their privileged education to spin the events to their clients’ advantage. Now I saw young men who could be advocates for more compassionate attitudes. So long as they resist the pack mentality.

Grow from Seeds Programme

Date: 17 January 2020

The Grow from Seeds project intends to provide a programme designed to foster intercultural dialogue in Primary Schools recognising European Parliament priorities to address anti-social behaviour through social cohesion and inclusion, active citizenship and the empowerment and participation of pupils. The methodology used to deliver this education programme adopts multiple strands of Creative Drama, storytelling and performing arts which are proven to be highly motivating, multi-sensory and active learning tools. The Grow from Seeds project engages partners from Ireland, Germany and France, and is supported by Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership.

Teachers, policy makers, researchers, artists, drama practitioners and academics are invited to attend the International Conference in Intercultural Education for Primary Schools to explore new ways of understanding Intercultural Education in Primary Schools and the use of the creative arts as a tool to foster intercultural dialogue in primary schools..

Keynote Address

The conference event will include a keynote talk from Joe Little, RTÉ Religious and Social Affairs correspondent. The event will also showcase the work from the Grow from Seeds project as well as presentations and contributions from practitioners and educators through a panel discussion.

Venue: Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin

Date: 17th January 2020, 9.30am registration

RSVP by January 6th to educate@gaietyschool.com

 

 

The Ark

10 – 11 January 2020

As the fun of the festive season fades and the new year sets in, this early years drama workshop for little ones aged 2-4 will explore how to cope when things go wrong. Part of First Fortnight festival and led by The Ark’s Early Years Artist in Residence, Joanna Parkes.

Oh dear! Elliott the Dragon is having a bad day. It’s a cold, snowy day and he’s fed up. Everything’s going wrong and he doesn’t know what to do. He says he’s going to give up and not try anymore but… maybe we can help him? Maybe we encourage him to try again? Maybe we can help him bounce back?

Join in to discover, explore and find out if you can help Elliott figure out how to be resilient in this delightful workshop adventure.

Combining drama, story, play and props, this interactive drama workshop invites little ones and their grown-ups to enjoy imagining together. So if you’re a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunty, godparent or carer, come along with a 2 to 4 year old and join in the fun.

For further information and bookings go to ark.ie/events/view/seedlings-first-fortnight2020

The Ark

Dates: 14 – 29 December 2019

Little Bigtop in Association with The Civic

Escape into space in this fantastic interactive theatrical adventure for ages 3-5 from Little Bigtop in association with The Civic.

Moon Woke Me Up Nine times
It was still 4am
So I built a rocket with my friends
And went on a journey that never ends

Come up and away with us. Come and play with us.

You are invited to come and build a rocket that will BLAST OFF and take us on a magical adventure. Once inside their homemade rocket children are treated to a magical shadow show as they journey to the moon! Come with us all the way, up there, into outer space!

I wonder if it smells of cheese?
I wonder if it will make me sneeze?

Let’s find out!

Inspired by a Haiku of the same title by Basho Matsuo, Moon Woke Me Up is an interactive theatrical adventure to space for ages 3-5, using a wonderful blend of performance and interactive drama, construction play and sensory explorations.

For further information and bookings go to https://ark.ie/events/view/moon-woke-me-up

 

 

Museum of Literature Ireland

The Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) are excited to offer a free primary school creative programme ‘Shut your eyes and see’ to Irish primary school teachers and students in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th class. Workshops explore Irish literature, past and present, hoping to inspire the next generation to read, write, and unlock their creative potential in whatever form it takes.

Developed in collaboration with students from our learning partner schools, teachers, educators, administrators and librarians, our programme is designed with different learning styles in mind.

We offer a two-hour experience in MoLI from 10am–12pm, during term time. Teachers and students participate in a creative workshop and a tour of our exhibition space and gardens.

Connecting to our exhibitions and gardens, and reflecting elements of the school curriculum, workshops seek to develop critical thinking and research skills as well as visual, verbal and information literacy.

When booking, primary school teachers can choose from one of three workshops:

To book go to moli.ie/book-a-primary-school-workshop/

For further information and to download a teachers resource pack go to moli.ie/learning/schools-and-teachers/

 

The Ark 

Date: 1 & 2 November 2019

Embrace the wonders of the wind in this fun drama workshop for little ones aged 2-4, led by The Ark’s Early Years Artist in Residence, Joanna Parkes.

It’s a whirly, swirly, windy day and the Wind Wizards are busy at work. Not everyone likes the wind though, as it whips up fallen leaves and tousles their hair. Can the wind wizards help people see how wonderful the wind can be?

Join in to explore, imagine and discover your own secret love for the whistle and whoosh of the whispering wind.

Combining drama, story, play and props, this interactive drama workshop invites little ones and their grown-ups to enjoy imagining together. So if you’re a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunty, godparent or carer, come along with a 2 to 4 year old and join in the fun.

Dates & Times: 

Friday 1st November, 10.15am & 2pm
Saturday 2nd November, 10.15am & 11.45am

For ages 2- 4

45 minutes

For more information and booking go to ark.ie/events/view/seedlings-whirly-swirly-wind

The Ark 

Dates: 10 October – 2 November 2019

The Ark invites schools to the world premiere of a brand new show by Wayne Jordan and Tom Lane for Ages 8+.

Labhraidh Loingseach has a secret. He wears his hair long and he has it cut only once a year. Once a year on the same night in the same place and in the same style. But never by the same barber.

The Haircut is a cautionary tale with a live musical soundtrack. The Haircut is a fairytale remixed and retold.

The Haircut is a play about secrets and about creativity stifled. About fighting for what you believe in and standing up to power.

About music and magic and hair.

Set in a magical modern day Ireland, The Haircut is a new commission written by Wayne Jordan, delivered with ineffable charm by bright new talent Thommas Kane Byrne and accompanied by Tom Lane’s vibrant score played by three outstanding musicians.

Classroom Activity Pack

A new Classroom Activity Pack is available for teachers is available to download to accompany the production.  Created by Joanna Parkes and Anita Mahon – renowned specialist facilitators for educational drama and music programmes – the pack uses the show’s rich themes and ideas as a starting point for a range of engaging classroom activities and is a useful resource to teachers, whether or not they have seen the performance.

To download the full Classroom Activity Pack for The Haircut! go to ark.ie/news/post/just-released-the-haircut-classroom-activity-pack

Dates & Times

10 October – 2 November

School Days
Wednesday 16, Friday 18, & Wednesday 23, Friday 25 Oct @ 10.15am & 12.15pm

Mid-Term Break
Tuesday 29 October – Friday 1 November @ 2pm
Wednesday 30 October @ 7pm

Relaxed Performance Wednesday 30 October @ 2pm

For further information and ticket booking go to ark.ie/events/view/the-haircut

 

 

 

The Ark 

Dates: 2 & 3 August 2019

The Ark continue our monthly early-years programme Seedlings with a special workshop perfect for children ages 2-4 to get creative with their older relatives.

We’re heading to the sea this August in this early years drama workshop for little ones led by The Ark’s Early Years Artist in Residence Joanna Parkes.

Come on an imaginative journey to the beach! It’s a fine sunny day and the children are having fun playing in the sand. Then some unexpected visitors arrive and seem to behaving in a suspicious manner.

What is going on? Join in and explore what happens in this delightful workshop adventure by the sea.

Combining drama, story, play and props, this interactive drama workshop invites little ones and their grown-ups to enjoy imagining together. So if you’re a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunty, godparent or carer, come along with a 2 to 4 year old and join in the fun.

Dates & Times

For further information and ticket bookings go toark.ie/events/view/seedlings-early-years-workshops-aug19

The Ark 

Dates: 19 – 23 August 2019

Back for a fourth summer, The Ark are excited to present this really popular engaging arts summer course focusing on the two curriculum areas of Drama and Music.

This is a five day Department of Education and Skills and EPV-approved summer course for teachers.

Working with two outstanding creative practitioners, you will enjoy a week of experiential learning and development. Your confidence and skills in both music and drama will increase through highly participative and inspiring course content.

Using themes drawn from SPHE, English and other subjects, participants will explore a variety of imaginative approaches to integrated curriculum delivery. Teachers of all levels of experience will be able to fully engage in this rich week of professional development.

Course content and highlights will include:

 

Artists – Anita Mahon (music) & Joanna Parkes (theatre)

Dates & Times – Five Day Course
19-23 Aug 2019, 10am to 3pm each day

Presented by The Ark & Dublin West Education Centre

For further information and ticket booking go to https://ark.ie/events/view/teachers-5-day-course-creative-music-drama-1

 

 

Baboró International Arts Festival for Children

Deadline: 4pm, Friday 12th July 2019  

Pathways to Production is an artist support programme led by Baboró, who has partnered with Druid, the Mick Lally Theatre, Branar Téatar do Phaistí, The Irish Theatre Institute (ITI) and Galway Theatre Festival, to support artists and young companies to develop their ideas with a view to presenting a full performance piece.

What GROW ‘Pathways to Production’ offers:

 

The exciting scheme involves workshops, sharing of works-in-progress with peers, as well as support in developing funding strategies. Baboró, Druid and the Mick Lally Theatre, Branar Téatar de Phaistí, The Irish Theatre Institute and Galway Theatre Festival will make our collective organisational experience and resources available to participants.

The Pathways to Production programme runs from October 2019 to October 2020.

Who is it for?

 

Deadline for submissions is 4pm, Friday 12th July 2019. 

For further information including the application guidelines and submission from go to www.baboro.ie/about/work/grow/pathways

 

 

Baboró 

Dates: 1st – 5th July 2019

Baboró releases final spaces for ‘Drama Tools for the Classroom’, an EPV approved Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course for educators, therapists and artists.

A limited number of tickets are now available for Baboró’s annual Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course, Drama Tools for the Classroom, taking place from Monday 1st to Friday 5th of July at the O’Donoghue Centre, NUI Galway.

Develop practical, fun and engaging teaching methodologies in this EPV approved CPD course; delivered by teacher, dramatist and facilitator Irene O’Meara, B.Ed., LLSM, MA Drama & Theatre Studies.

The week-long course of workshops is designed for primary school teachers but is also open to educators, therapists, artists and facilitators. It is for those who value the art of communication, empathy and co-operation, and wish to use drama and the creative arts to effectively engage children in teaching a range of topics.

The course will cover all the required teaching methodologies such as Active Learning; Problem Solving; Collaborative Learning and Discussion and Use of Environment, while also developing skills that can be used in a multitude of settings with many subject areas. Participants will then be guided through the processes of using drama as a methodology that supports the Using, Understanding and Communicating as per the New Primary Language curriculum.

Booking and Event Details:
Course cost of €70.00.
Taking place from 9.30am – 2.00pm Monday 1st to Friday 5th of July at the O’Donoghue Centre, NUI Galway.

Tickets available on Eventbrite at bit.ly/2JbUBG0. Places are limited and advanced booking is required.

For further information go to www.baboro.ie/news-events/cpd-2019

This is an EPV Department of Skills and Education approved course and participants will receive a certificate of completion. For further information contact admin@baboro.ie or call 091 562 667

The Arts Education Research Group (TCD) and the Association for Drama in Education in Ireland (ADEI)

Dates: 9th & 10th March 2019

The School of Education in Trinity College will host an exciting international conference on drama and theatre in education on March 9th and 10th.
This is a timely event in today’s world, and explores the theme of the social and political in children’s and young people’s drama and theatre. This conference will be of interest to teachers, artists and anyone working at the cutting edge of drama, theatre, education, creative and cultural studies, arts education, sociology and social policy, political science and education, psychology, and related fields.

The conference features an impressive line-up of speakers who will explore the conference theme with reference to their own practices in different parts of the world. With subsidised rates available for attendees (€105,) and a bursary scheme available for full time students (€38 for the 2 day event).

For further information and booking go to www.tcd.ie/Education/Drama-Davis-Conference19/

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Dates: 6th – 9th of March 2019

School Shows: 10am & 12.30

Barnstorm Theatre Company is delighted to present its new production of ‘Boy with a Suitcase’ by Mike Kenny. Directed by Philip Hardy, the play deals with migration, focusing on the stories and cultural touchstones that sustain a young boy on his perilous journey to Ireland. The play has been written specifically for children aged 8-12 but is an interesting and thought-provoking piece that can be explored by all.

Like his hero, Sinbad the Sailor, who undertook many perilous voyages in search of his fortune, Naz must travel half-way around the world to reach the safety of his brother in Dublin. Naz teams up with Krysia, a young girl in similar circumstances, who helps him dodge soldiers and find safe passage over mountains, across seas and through the mire of a city slum.

A gripping tale of adventure and stories, Naz’s journey throws a spotlight on the real dangers faced by children in other parts of the world, and the lengths to which they must go to reach safety in the relative security of a country like Ireland.

A resource pack, developed in association with Ann Murtagh (Teacher/Tutor at Kilkenny Education Centre) , will be provided to participating teachers. The pack with provide a focus for exploration of the themes that arise throughout the play.

For more information or to obtain a resource pack, please contact Barnstorm Theatre at admin@barnstorm.ie, or call us on 056 7751266

Performances of Boy With a Suitcase will take place at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny from the 6th-9th of March.

Tickets are available online at watergatetheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873602052

 

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

 

Creative Schools: New Beginnings in 2019 – Blog 3

Step Two: ‘Develop’

2019 has been great so far with the continuation of the Creative Schools Project. Having completed the ‘Understand’ stage, I have moved onto the next stage: ‘Develop’. Using the planning framework, I work with schools to firstly develop a ‘Creative Schools Vision’. This is a long-term vision for placing the arts and creativity at the heart of the school. It should be aspirational but realistic. It is used to enable the school to develop aims, success criteria and activity plans. The aims state what the school ideally hopes to achieve by introducing the plan. As I previously mentioned, the voice of young people is of key importance to all stages of the project. The school must outline the role of young people in the development of their plan. The success criteria must then be detailed which states how the school will know if their plan is having the desired impact on the school and wider community.

The next step I take is to work with schools to develop a ‘Creative School Plan’. This plan is used to support the ‘Creative Schools Vision’. It includes key areas for development which should be implemented over a number of years. It is used to support the following areas for development: children and young people, teaching and learning, leadership and management & school environment, opportunities and networks. The work completed to date in the ‘Understand’ stage is used directly to the benefit of the ‘Develop’ stage.

I also work with the school to develop an activity plan. The school uses this plan to detail the exact arts and creative activities they wish to undertake this year. A series of questions must be answered which ensure schools think thoroughly about the long-term benefit of chosen activities for example: Which areas of the curriculum are involved (including the potential for collaboration/integration across subject areas)?

Linking Schools to Opportunities:
Every school is unique and they each have particular strengths and arts/creative areas which they wish to develop. I am now working to link schools to relevant opportunities according to their plans. Some activities which have come up so far include: staff undergoing CPD training in drama education to learn how process drama can be used in a cross-curricular fashion as a means to enhance learning in a practical, engaging way. Another includes: students working with a street artist over a series of weeks to create their own work. There has been a fantastic response from arts/creative organisations and artists to the project. Some of the links I have made so far include: artists (in a variety of disciplines), Arts Officers, Creative Ireland Officers, Education Officers (from arts organisations), art galleries, university drama department, music organisations and dance companies.

Student Advisory Group:
To ensure students play an active role in the implementation and evaluation of the project I work with schools to set up a ‘Student Advisory Group’. This is a cross-section of students from different class groups that I engage with on a regular basis. These students give us a valuable insight into their own artistic & creative interests. Their views must be taken on board in the development, implementation and evaluation of the project.

Arts in Education:
This project is raising the level of importance of the arts and creativity in education across the board. It is not only creating opportunities for schools but also for artists that are highly skilled and trained with vast experience. Personally speaking, my career to date has revolved around creativity. On a regular basis, I hear about the benefits creativity has to mental health and well-being. Exposure to the arts and creativity is something which needs to be made possible through the education system in order to ensure equal opportunity to young people. In a world that is constantly changing, creativity is needed more than ever.

The Ark 

Date: 19 January 2019

Meet the King who has banned feelings and colours from his Kingdom in this fun and interactive workshop for 3 to 5 years olds and their grown-ups at The Ark, Dublin. In partnership with First Fortnight.

The King finds feelings confusing so he says no one can laugh or cry when he’s around. Feelings of happiness, sadness or anger are not allowed. He wants everything and everyone to be grey and gloomy all day long – so he’s banished colours as well.

Be part of a group of brave, young adventurers who decide this can’t be right, so go an a mission to collect the missing feelings and colours and bring them back to the Kingdom.

About Joanna Parkes

Joanna Parkes is a freelance drama facilitator and theatre practitioner working in Primary Schools and Teacher Training Colleges. As well as devising and delivering drama programmes in schools she has also written a number of teacher’s resources packs and publications. She has been running workshops and teacher-training at The Ark since 2013.

About First Fortnight

First Fortnight is a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action. The First Fortnight Festival creates a consistent space in the cultural calendar where citizens can be inspired through arts events and experiences to talk about mental health issues in a non-scripted manner. This year they are delighted to host the European Mental Health Arts & Culture Festival in Ireland. Find out more at www.firstfortnight.ie. 

For more information and bookings go to ark.ie/events/view/the-king-who-finds-feelings-confusing.

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

Creative Schools: The Journey Continues – Blog 2

Creative Schools Coordinators:

In every Creative School there is a Creative Schools Coordinator. The coordinator is my first point of contact with each school and I liaise with them in regular meetings. I have now met all coordinators in my corresponding schools. In some schools the coordinator is a member of the teaching staff and in others it is the school principal. There has been a great response and enthusiasm from all coordinators and schools as a whole to the project and a strong belief in the positive impact it can make on putting the arts and creativity at the heart of young people’s lives.

Completion of Step One: ‘Understand’:

I am continuing to work with schools on the process of gaining an understanding of the school’sengagement with the arts and creativity. Having completed workshops and meetings with relevant parties and staff, I am liaising with Creative Schools Coordinators to complete the documentation for this section. All schools are provided with a document called ‘Understand’ complete with four sections: 1) Children & Young People 2) Teaching & Learning 3) Leadership & Management & 4) School Environment, Opportunities & Networks. In each section there are a series of statements which are rated on a scale of: 0-5 (0 means: the statement is ‘Not at all true’, 5 means: the statement is ‘Very true’). For example: “Pupils/students are involved in decision-making on existing arts opportunities and are able to shape their learning experiences in school” (Section 1: Children & Young People). Using age specific surveys designed for appropriate parties and information gathered from staff discussions I work with coordinators to rate all statements (using an average from the individual ratings). The following individuals are consulted with in this process: the school principal, deputy principal, coordinator, teachers (including resource staff & S.N.A.s), staff with a responsibility for the arts, parent’s association and board of management. These findings will support the development of the Creative Schools Plan which will be carried out in step two: ‘Develop’.

What is Creativity?

As I mentioned in my previous post the voice, opinions and views of young people is of key importance to this pilot project. Through ‘The Voice of Young People’ workshop I collected lots of useful information which I use as data for the ‘Children & Young People’ section and to influence my work with schools going forward. I go through this information, document and analyse it. I found it inspiring to read young people’s understanding of the word ‘Creativity’. From my experience, all young people have their own individual understanding of creativity. It is very interesting and uplifting read their definitions:

“I think it is about showing who you are and what you like to do”. “I think if you’re creative, you have a big imagination”.

“It’s about expressing yourself”.

“Imagination”.

“Like your dreams are what you feel & draw & do”.

“Do what your mind tells you”.

“Creativity is free! When you break rules, you are being creative”.

I believe it is important to let young people come up with their own understanding of creativity rather than provide them with a set definition. This is similar to the constructivist approach I often use in my own teaching. Using constructivism, students are actively involved in constructing their own meaning and knowledge as opposed to passively receiving information.

Through the workshop, I also gathered information on student’s individual artistic and creative interests. Students listed: the creative activities they are currently engaged with inside and outside school. They also listed the creative things they would like to do if they had the opportunity. It is very interesting to hear their responses. The answers vary greatly from school to school. The school’slocation and the cultural and artistic opportunities in close proximity of the school also have an influence on the responses given.

Meeting Teachers:

I have commenced meeting all teaching staff in my corresponding schools. It is very important that staff are fully aware of what is involved in Creative Schools and are able to contribute their ideas in order for the project to be of benefit. The staff are of key importance to ensure the sustainability and longevity of the project. In these meetings I initially provide staff with a thorough understanding of Creative Schools. I then explain the different components of the programme including the first step: ‘Understand’. I design posters listing the following questions as headings:

What are the creative strengths of the school?
What creative areas can the school develop?
What creative activities can the school implement to develop these areas?

I then facilitate a discussion with staff where they are given the opportunity to provide answers/ideas to questions listed. We pass around the posters and everyone makes a written note of their contributions. I also ask staff about their own individual areas of expertise for example: Is there a staff member that is a particularly skilled/trained musician/dancer? etc. This is very beneficial for all staff to be aware of going forward. I have found that a lot of schools are interested in working collaboratively together to share their creative skills and knowledge.

New Beginnings in 2019:

I am looking forward to a new year of opportunities for Creative Schools and excited to move on to the next stage of the project.

Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) is a unique Department of Education and Skills initiative for supporting and enhancing arts in education in primary schools. The CPD Summer Course and residency programme is now mainstreamed and consists of free DES approved (EPV days) Summer Courses operating in each of the 21 full-time Education Centres in Ireland. The initiative includes funded Artist in Residency opportunities in which participating teachers and artists work together in collaboration in the School during the following academic year.

For more information click here.

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

There were three central elements in our partnership; a teacher who is also an archaeologist, a drama facilitator who loves to weave a dramatic tale and a class of lively, enthusiastic 3rd class pupils. Joanna is a vastly experienced drama facilitator who has been working in the field of Educational Drama for many years and Jenny is a dynamic teacher with a previous career in archaeology and a history of engagement in theatre and youth drama.

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

When I’m planning my drama sessions I focus on creating a story that evolves over a number of weeks through a drama process. Developing a narrative arch in this way means you can respond to the elements of the story that are of particular interest to the children involved and can reflect the unique contributions of all those involved so this project was an ideal opportunity to merge Jenny’s and my skills and experiences in a collaborative venture.

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

I have a deep love of history, archaeology and the arts, therefore we decided to locate the story for the drama at the local Dunamase monument. This commanding ruin provided an ideal vehicle to weave a magical story and to entwine my professional experience with a place of local interest and beauty. The result was 8 weeks of adventure, dramatic recounting and thoughtful reflection through the story which we called Donal of Dunamase and the mighty boar of Ballyfriar.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

This particular dramatic narrative developed over 8 weeks when I visited the school and working with Jenny and her 3rd class for 90 minutes every week. The story began in the present when the class went into the role as archaeologists on a dig at the historic site of Dunamase.  Working with care and attention on this imaginary dig the girls discovered ancient artefacts dating from the 800’s. Over the next two weeks in girls made the objects they had imagined finding on the dig, these objects were then incorporated into the drama narrative.

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

My class went on an incredible journey back in time to 814CE and the fort at Dún Masc through the medium of drama. Over 8 weeks we worked together as children, artist and teacher to imagine this community of people, their everyday lives and preoccupations. The children were divided into six different family groupings: the Potters, Weavers, Druids, Metal Workers, Farmers and the Clan Leader’s Family. In history the girls developed their background knowledge of each families’ skill-set in the daily life of the dún so that in drama, using small group and whole class improvisation, in role negotiation, discussion,  teacher in role and mime the children could explore and develop their roles, giving depth to the drama personae.

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

Through immersion in the rich narrative the children came to know the characters in detail. They were introduced to their Clan Leader, Donal, his unconventional and inspirational daughter Alfric, and her cousins Tadhg and Tuan. They developed an understanding of these key characters and the significant events in their lives. Jenny used her dramatic skills to great advantage when in role as the Seanachaí, captivating her class with a dynamic and hair-raising account of the great battle between the Clan Leader and the wild boar.

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

I was delighted with how the class became absorbed in the story through the characters Joanna created and they developed. The class entered entirely into role as members of the Clan, resolving dilemmas, engaging in debate and finding resolution along the way. I noted that they particularly enjoyed playing Alfric, the feisty daughter. When we reflected on the process afterwards, the girls noted that she became a positive role model for them as they enjoyed her energy and physicality. They noted how much more they enjoyed learning about history through immersion in a story by becoming people in the past and finding out what everyday life was like.

They got a true insight into what has changed, but also how people and their preoccupations remain similar in 2014 in 814. When I gathered the children together again in 2018, as they prepared to graduate primary school, the girls remarked on how their drama had helped them to build self-confidence, develop their understanding of each other and work as part of a group. Their memory of this work was bright, nuanced and life enriching.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Successes

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

The reason I believe this partnership was so successful was that it was a shared, collaborative experience. Every element of the process, from the initial imagining of the story to the weekly planning and delivery was developed in partnership so we had a unified vision and understanding. Since we were equally involved and connected, when the children were particularly engaged with the reality of their drama or when unexpected “moments of magic” occurred, there was someone to observe, share and reflect with.

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

I loved having a partner in the room. Joanna’s deep well of drama knowledge, creativity and skill encouraged me to develop and share my own creative skills through my work with children. This project was a professional turning point in my career approach as it encouraged me to look outward from the classroom. My partnership and friendship with Joanna was crucial to this change of perspective. I actively enjoy and seek engagement with professionals outside of teaching to help enrich the educational experience of my pupils and my own professional skills.

Challenges

The most significant challenge in this project lay in documenting learning, as process drama focuses on engagement. Creativity is experienced, felt and communicated in the dramatic moment. The work of artist and teacher focuses on creating the opportunity for dynamic “moments of magic” for the children. There is then a separate and challenging task of evidencing this ephemeral form of learning.

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

Throughout my work I have found process drama presents unique challenges in terms of documentation. Learning is focused on the emotion and engagement of the moment rather than in presentation, performance and product. Photography and recording rarely capture or communicate powerful moments of drama, story and learning that emerge, such as Donal’s funeral or the election of Alfric.

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

Within the project we were deeply conscious of the “invisibility” of our creativity and learning to all except those directly involved. This generated unique pressure to create tangible, concrete evidence of our work. I consciously planned lessons that developed and produced pieces of writing, construction, photography and visual art we not only extended, but evidenced our learning. The pressure to record tended to pull the artist and teacher out of the dramatic moment and into the role of an outsider recorder.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

Working through Joanna’s narrative, I developed a programme of broad and deep curricular integration for the class. This approach, which encompassed English literacy and writing, history, storytelling, visual arts, illustration and music, was significant in enabling the children to engage knowledgably and immersively in learning. As they spent time outside drama thinking about the story (making their artefacts in Art, writing the story in English, completing their Drama Journals) they became active agents in the story. This resonated more deeply with them than other classes who limit drama reflection to the confines of a weekly drama lesson.

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

As a free-lance artists I can often feel isolated in my work, so I really appreciated the opportunity to plan and deliver the drama workshops with someone else who was equally committed to the process. Also, compared to other drama projects, it was very striking to witness how much more embedded and committed the children were to the drama process because of the cross curricular nature of the project and how it resonated throughout the school week. Due to the extra time and energy Jenny dedicated to this process, outside our drama sessions, the pupils had the opportunity to genuinely connect to the fictional community we created and to actively engaged with the characters, with their dilemmas and life-choices.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

Since the 2014 initiative, Joanna and I have engaged in subsequent projects with children and developed a workshop for educators on 1916. I employ the skills I developed in partnership with Joanna throughout my professional work, with both colleagues and children. This project has made me more cognisant of the arts and creativity in our schools. I believe passionately that all children deserve life enriching arts experiences. Through looking outward, reflecting inward, communicating and connecting, our primary schools can be centres of whole-child and teacher learning where physical, emotional and spiritual needs are expressed, acknowledged and fulfilled.

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

Working with Jenny during this partnership gave me an ideal opportunity to appreciate the full potential of working in partnership with a committed and enthusiastic teacher. Working in this way does take time and extra resources but as a result of this partnership, I realised more than ever that it is worth cultivating a strong collaborative relationship with the teachers in such projects. It is very evident that when this committed collaboration happens, the engagement and connection is deeper and more meaningful for the pupils.

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

Creative Schools: The Start of the Journey – Blog 1

Creative Schools is a pilot initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme. It is led by the Arts Council in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The aim of this initiative is to put the arts and creativity at the heart of children and young people’s lives. My job as a Creative Associate is to enhance and shape the place of creativity in schools. I work to inspire, energise and drive schools forward in developing creative opportunities in the school and wider community. I enable schools to understand, develop and celebrate young people’s engagement with the arts and creativity.

Getting to Know Schools:

I work with a number of schools throughout Cork and Kerry. At the beginning of November, I began engaging in meetings with the Creative Schools Coordinators from my designated schools. There are a series of objectives I aim to achieve in these meetings. Initially, we go through the Creative Schools Planning Framework. We then begin to discuss the first step of the programme: ‘Understand’. This allows schools to understand their current engagement with the arts and creativity. It also enables them to assess the creative interests of students and the resources which are available in the school and wider community. We talk about the school’s current involvement with the arts and artistic areas which they wish to enhance. Through this meeting I develop a better, more thorough understanding of the school as a whole.

In each school I run a workshop with students on ‘The Voice of Young People’. All creative associates were lucky enough to have the opportunity to undergo training in Hub na nÓg. This is a national centre of excellence which supports us to give children and young people a voice in decision making. I use the Lundy Model to ensure the voice of young people is a priority. This model indicates that young people should be provided with a safe space and appropriate information to enable them to express their views. It is also important to make sure that their views are communicated with someone with the responsibility to listen, taken seriously and acted on where appropriate.

Workshop:

Giving young people the opportunity to actively participate in a workshop is a great way to hear their views. Let me give you a brief insight into ‘The Voice of Young People’ workshop. I use two different methods in this workshop called: ‘Open Space Method’ and ‘World Café Method’. The‘Open Space Method’ involves me asking student three questions as follows: 1) What is creativity? 2) What kind of creative things do you currently do? 3) What kind of creative things would you like to do? Students write their answers on post-its and stick them on three different parts of the wall. Students then divide these answers into sections according to what kind of arts activity they are e.g. music, dance etc. This leads to a very effective visual portrayal of student’s artistic interests. We then move on to ‘World Café Method’. Students are provided with a poster on which they are asked a series of questions containing blanks: 1) What is …..? 2) What kind of …… activities have you done/do you do? 3) What kind of ….. activities would you like to do? The young people use the arts activities they came up with in the previous exercise to fill in the blanks in these questions. Students then design the poster using a series of words and illustrations in order to answer these questions. I like using these methods as students take ownership of the kinds of arts activities they would like to explore and they are decision makers from the offset. I also give students surveys which are specific to their age and ability which allow them to express their opinion on their experience of the arts. These are important to give me concrete data to work from. If you want to know what young people want the best thing is to ask them. This workshop enables me to do that.

Further action I have taken in my role as Creative Associate is to create links between the school and local arts opportunities. So far, I have met people such as the local arts officer, programme manager from arts centre etc. These links are important to make to ensure the sustainability of the Creative Schools Programme.

The next step for my work as Creative Associate is to develop a Creative Schools Plan schools. Finally, schools will celebrate their experience with the arts and creativity by sharing their experience as a school, community and beyond.

Onwards & Upwards:

I firmly believe that providing young people with improved, sustainable arts opportunities will benefit them now and into the future. I am delighted to be working as part of this exciting new programme which allows us to make a positive difference in the lives of young people through the arts & creativity.

 

Róisin O’Donnell is a 19 year old leaving cert survivor and writer. She was a participant in the first ever Young Playwrights’ Programme. Her play ‘Bernie’ premiered through the programme. She lives in Cork, where she spends her time writing fiction and plays, obsessing over books and her dog.

College has changed the way I write… – Blog 2

I write this blog like a stereotypical college student, with a deadline looming, on a tiny computer, in a big academic library. Eight months ago I was accepted into the Young Playwrights Programme and four months ago my first play took to life on the stage. Do I miss the programme? Short answer: Yeah.

In college, I am constantly reminded of the time I spent at Graffiti – not to jinx it. Just like then I am surrounded by people I like with my trusty keyboard only a stretch of my arm away.

A lot of things that I did not expect happened when I became a first-year student at UCC.

I can stare/glare/laugh at the ‘world’ now. And feel comfortable enough in it. John and Katie always encouraged us to say what we are- writers. An obvious title. But up until this new chapter of my life, I was waiting. Waiting for proof that I could post on Instagram and make everyone stop scrolling for a second and think- wow, Róisin… she’s not average… every negative thought gone…

I am not going to type bullshit if my time with the journalism society has taught me anything. The doors did not open present my ambitions to me.

My personal life turned into the Titanic on speed when the Leaving Cert came around. And the neat blue lines of the exam booklets had no sympathy marks to give. I didn’t get the results I wanted. The State Examinations Commission said you’re not good enough, the days, the months, the YEAR you spent was as worthless as the paper the results are printed on.

I got my dream course because I got lucky. Any other year… let’s not think of that.

My Leaving Cert is worthless now. Lecturers don’t mention it and us students squint and cringe about it, rarely.

I have learned to stop wishing and writing sloppy coming of age stories that made me sick with boredom. I write about my life now and the world around me. I send my drafts to the UCC Express or the Motley to connect with other students. So far I haven’t got a no, just edits. and ‘you can do it.’ And I am happy. The tiny achievements college has offered me have given me more than six years and two exams ever could.

Jessica O’ Brien is a 16 year old student and aspiring writer from Cork. As part of the Young Playwrights’ Programme with Graffiti Theatre, she along with eight other young people wrote and staged plays in The Everyman as part of the Midsummer Festival in 2018. She is currently writing her first book and hopes to have a career in writing novels or journalism.

Why I Write – Blog 3

I write for a reason, though I know that most of it is just instinct. Since I was a kid I would fill these hardbacks with creative writing and acrostic poems and I would fill my suitcases with my favourite books for the summer holidays – to the despair of my Mom. (my case was always overweight)  I distinctly remember the first Young Adult novel I read, ‘The Fault In Our Stars’, and immediately being hooked. I couldn’t get enough of these characters and worlds that were realistic, these people I wanted to be friends with. Within two years my room was unrecognisable, with massive shelves to facilitate my little library.

When I started studying for the Junior Cert I was taught to read and look at other forms of art critically. I am very grateful for the English class, classmates and teacher I had. Instead of just spewing out whatever Ithought was good, I took criticism from others. I listened to the other girls and realised I could be as good at writing answers as them if I tried. It was then I realised just how much I loved writing. I loved being able to start writing and forgetting about where I was and having that right word come to me. Suddenly I was in love with cinematography, the meaning behind words and I began to read and write differently. Now I couldn’t just read any YA book, I would scan the fonts and blurbs and as I read, I would add things to my mental list of what I liked or disliked. My journals became a source of comfort, and they still remain so.

But as I have gotten older and learned more about myself and the world, I realised that I had never truly been able to find myself in a book. There is such a lack of diversity, there are so many cliche stories with happy endings and straight romances and I got tired. One day I was walking home from the bookshop with my Dad and he asked me what the books I had bought were about. I explained, and I guess he was surprised because the books had strong themes in them. ‘I thought you read to escape reality,’ he said, with his bag of crime novels. ‘I guess I write to help change my reality,’ I thought.

I write because I can’t not write. I write to tell people what I can’t say or to get my feelings out on paper. My journals are almost like scrapbooks in a way. But most importantly, I now write because I have stories I need to tell. There are people in the LGBT community like me who’s story never gets told. People of colour. Different religion. Disabilities. Those love stories that don’t work out and real life teenager scenarios. We are all hot messes. It is so much nicer to read a book and relate to it rather than read a book and strive to be like it.

I write for myself, and everyone who ever deserved a voice. One day, maybe I’ll be scrutinising the YA section and I’ll see my own name there. That’s the dream I have for this reality.

Róisin O’Donnell is a 19 year old leaving cert survivor and writer. She was a participant in the first ever Young Playwrights Programme. Her play ‘Bernie’ premiered through the programme. She lives in Cork, where she spends her time writing fiction and plays, obsessing over books and her dog.

Youth, the Internet and Fiction – Blog 2

There are millions of stories on Fanfiction.net. 791K of those stories alone are listed under Harry Potter.

Meaning: Thousands of mostly young people around the world using their keyboards to enter the writing world. All because of words someone else has written.

I think that sounds amazing.

But attach the label ‘fanfiction’ and people start cringing.
Why?

Using the incorrect form of ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ shouldn’t automatically make you a joke. Writing isn’t easy. And I can relate.

On my way to becoming a writer, I went through the terrible years of primary and early secondary school feeling average. I had nothing in front of me, so much energy and nowhere to put it.

According to school there are only three categories to slot into. Athletic, brainy or social butterfly and if you aren’t a superstar at one of those things – tough shit. To the end of the pecking order, please!

One day, out of boredom, I typed 500 words on my phone and called it a first (bad) chapter. I wanted nineteen years later to be more than a just happy ending at a train station. Those 500 words turned into 230,000 words and counting. And that, I can safely say, drew me to more books, made me see things from multiple perspectives and start to question things. English class didn’t improve my editing skills, get me into the Young Playwrights Programme or give me the opportunity to write this blog. Writing something I loved did.

Yes, there are the scandalous stories but isn’t there Mills and Boons lining the shelves of every library? You just need to know where to look. The most followed stories on the site are under the genre adventure and are longer than any of the books I have on my shelf.

The readers and writers work together. They learn to improve their writing technique by editing and even beta-ing. People constructively break down each other’s work and work together to build each other up. Even the reviews are kind and supportive for the most part.

You wouldn’t believe the number of teen writers testing the waters and spreading their wings. They are trying to teach themselves. They want guidance and acknowledgement.

If you type fanfiction into any search engine late-night talk show segments will show up trying to get a cheap laugh and articles trying to teach parents what it is like in the depths of the community will appear. No one on the sites cares. That’s the outside world. The writers and readers do what they do with confidence. Confidence that would be benefitable to schools and societies in this cynical world.

And I’ll end this first blog with the lessons online writing has taught me. Lessons I should’ve learned in school:

Ability, even a magical ability like creativity takes works.
And
The only way to really succeed is to push forwards through the shitty phase every writer goes through and post that next update.

The Ark

Dates: 20 Aug – 24 Aug 2018

Department of Education and Skills and EPV-approved summer course for teachers.

The Ark, Dublin are excited to present a new five day arts-science summer course led by scientist and theatre-maker Dr. Niamh Shaw, aimed at primary teachers of 1st-3rd classes.

Discover STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) anew through a range of enjoyable and accessible creative drama processes designed to lift these subjects off the page and bring them to life for both teachers and students.

The course is created and led by the inspiring Dr Niamh Shaw – an engineer, former science academic and a theatre maker as well as one of Ireland’s leading science communicators and STEAM specialists. Niamh’s scientific knowledge and warm engaging style will help you in finding exciting new ways of communicating science themes to your students.

This practical hands-on course will improve your confidence in teaching STEM subjects as well as Drama and how to meaningfully link and integrate these in the classroom. A range of relevant STEM curricular areas will be explored through Drama including Mathematics, Geography, and of course Science.

The course is aimed at teachers of all levels of STEM and drama knowledge and experience.The course content and aims include:

For more information and booking go to ark.ie/events/view/5-day-teachers-course-bringing-stem-alive-in-the-classroom-through-drama

Jessica O’ Brien is a 16 year old student and aspiring writer from Cork. As part of the Young Playwrights’ Programme with Graffiti Theatre, she along with eight other young people wrote and staged plays in The Everyman as part of the Midsummer Festival in 2018. She is currently writing her first book and hopes to have a career in writing novels or journalism.

Let Creativity STEM – Blog 1

All my life I have been aware of what subjects defined me as ‘intelligent’ and what made me ‘subordinate’ by the education system.

Since I made the jump from primary school to secondary school I have become increasingly aware of the differences between myself and the students who excel in STEM subjects. It’s pretty clear what careers are portrayed as sensible, high intelligence careers, as careers in the arts are simply never discussed. STEM subjects include science, technology, engineering and mathematics- and recently I have noticed what a huge effort is being made to promote careers in these subjects, especially as my school is all female. We have been visited by countless representatives encouraging us to begin a career in a STEM subject and we have had several different weeks in school dedicated to science and maths. I believe this is hugely positive and will inspire us girls with the message that we too can hold positions of power in careers dedicated to these subjects- but I do think that those who are genuinely not interested in these subjects are being tossed aside.

Despite science being a choice in my school, I am constantly made to feel like it was never my choice to drop it. There have never been weeks dedicated to the students that excel in the arts. Yes, there are classes available, but they were hard fought for and aren’t treated as important by those who don’t participate in them. I spoke to my art teacher at an open night once, and she told me that parents would approach her, and ask her if ‘art was really that hard.’  My music teachers have only recently been given time slots for practicing for our carol service that is one of the biggest events on our school calendar. This would never happen with any other subjects. I was at a meeting being on our school’s magazine team. Our teacher didn’t show up to the meeting, which was a regular occurrence, but we decided we were going to power through on our own and show the school what we could do. But that couldn’t happen now. We were told the school didn’t have the funding for the 6 extra pages we wanted to produce. Yet our school bank gets hundreds to rent in famous guests to hype up their work. Our school has an annual run to pay for a new running track for sport. Our science labs are always stocked for experiments and our art classrooms are used as supply cabinets whenever people need to make posters. If you want to work hard in schools in a subject to do with the arts, you are pretty much on your own. I feel that the way people who work hard in these creative subjects are treated is really offensive. Music, art, and all other creatively based subjects are also fulfilling and big earning careers. The world needs them just as much as it needs scientists and engineers. Would you turn around to a world famous actor and chastise them for not becoming a mathematician?

Jessica was a participant in the Young Playwrights’ Programme with Graffiti Theatre which was a recipient of the Arts in Education Portal 2018 Documentation Award.

 

 

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 4: Rights Museum

The Rights Museum is a participatory art project that attempts to allow our objects to tell our story through the medium of a museum. Its subject is the lives of students in Larkin Community College and how the rights enshrined in the UNCRC intersect with their actual lived experience. Or don’t.

In my last blog post I detailed how I worked with a group of first year CSPE students and asked them to invest in the stories behind their rights – and learn about their rights in reality.

In our next session, I presented a simple everyday object to the group – I used a shoe. I like to gather the participants around the object in a circle. First I asked them to make objective observations: what can we say for certain just by looking at it? For example; “it’s a shoe”, “it’s got white laces”, “it’s black” “there’s dirt on it”. I kept this going, correcting them if they brought in any subjective observations (eg. “They look like they’ve been used to go running” or “They’re ugly”). Keep it to the facts that you can tell just by looking.

Once I’d just about exhausted this, I asked them to make subjective observations. I prompted them; who might have owned these shoes? What might they have used them for? Did they value them? And with each answer, I asked them to support their claim with evidence that they can see.

Then I placed the shoes on a raised platform (I used a bin but asked them to imagine it was a plinth in a museum!) and I asked them if that changed the way they saw it? Did it make it seem more important? Why? What could possibly be so important about this pair of shoes that they would be in a museum? I asked them to imagine that there was a label on it that said “Plastic and canvas shoes. Shoe size 5. 2017. Syria.” and then I asked them what they thought of them then. What would they think about the story of these shoes and who wore them?

I put the shoes away and then put another object on our “plinth”. This one was of personal importance to me – a pair of cufflinks displayed in their box. But I didn’t tell the participants anything about them yet. Again I asked them to make objective observations, then subjective observations (“is this important to the owner? Why do you say that?” “Are these expensive? Why do you say that?” “When were they made?” etc.) I then told them what they were, the story behind them and why they were important to me. Then I asked them all to bring in an object that was important to them, look at their UNHCR which we’d been working on, and relate what was important to them about the object back to an article in the charter.

Now we were facing the task of putting together an exhibition in the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks. Our questions for this were; how do we represent the work and the participants’ learning in that space for members of the public to see? And how do we invite the public to actively engage with the ideas within it?

We decided to keep it simple; we photographed all the participants with their chosen object and asked them why it was important to them and what right(s) it related to. We then got Sarah Moloney, a graphic designer (although this could have been done by me or someone who had time to learn Photoshop) to lay out the photographs with quotations from the students laid over the image, along with the text from the UNCRC that were relevant. Each of these was printed on A2 card and was displayed on the walls of the exhibitions space. This allowed all of the students who had taken part to be represented in the exhibition.

There were three large windows in the space; the middle one we printed the text of the UNCRC and on the two sides windows we wrote “What would be in your Rights Museum?” and invited the public to write on the windows in liquid chalk pens which we provided. This allowed the public to actively engage in the ideas that the Right Museum was provoking.

The Museum kindly lent us a display case, for which I chose eight objects that were representative of the whole group, to be displayed for the duration of the exhibition. This was the centre piece of the Rights Museum and showed the seemingly everyday objects, contributed by young citizens, enjoying the prestige and equal importance that is given to the treasured objects in the National Museum’s collection.

The power of this statement seemed to resonate with those we told about it and we had an enthusiastic response to our invitation to the opening of the exhibition. The opening was attended by the Minister for Education Richard Bruton, Director of the National Museum Raghnall Ó Floinn and the Ombudsman for Children Niall Muldoon, as well as national media including RTE news and the Irish Times. Two students from Larkin Community College, Ciarán Hayden and Isabella Anthony, spoke about their experience of the process at the podium, alongside the Minister, Director, and Ombudsman for Children. A number of students led guided interpretive tours of the exhibition for our guests.

I’d count among the Rights Museums successes; the way that it was able to facilitate learning about children’s rights in an active and personal way, that it succeeded in placing, on equal footing, the objects and stories of the young people alongside the artefacts of the National Museum, and the wide reach that the Rights Museum had to the public, through the media and from those who visited it.

The main challenges were in finding time and space with the young people to work in a way that was outside of the curriculum – although there are important curricular subjects being addressed. I am eternally grateful to the staff of Larkin, particularly Máire O’Higgins for facilitating that. Another challenge I found was a lack of understanding, of and buy-in to, the idea of human rights by the young people that I worked with. I picked up on a prevailing perception, before I started working with them, that human rights were a

My takeaways from this projects are many but the main ones that jump to mind

1. That artists have a different approach to working that the students can benefit from that perspective. The artists way is often a more circuitous, process and enquiry based approach than students are used to in mainstream education. It’s one that’s comfortable with the state of ambiguity you find yourself in while you’re working, one that allows one to say “I don’t know what this is yet” and for that not to be a bad thing. That’s not to say artists are the only people who can demonstrate that way of working, but it is something that artists can do because of the way many of us work.

2. That as an artist working in a school, it’s important that that’s what I remain – an artist. My job is to be an artist, not an Art or CSPE teacher or anything else. The job is artist and that has value.

3. That the framing of work by young people has a profound impact on how it’s perceived by people, but most importantly themselves. The way their work (whether it be a copy book, or a sculpture or a story told in class) is handled by the people in the world around them, subconsciously tells them something about it’s value. And my feeling is there is a huge artistic and social potential in subverting expectations of that value – as we did in small way by displaying “ordinary” objects in a museum.
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office has commissioned an education pack that features a guide on how to create your own rights museum in your school or community, and it will be available from their website in the autumn 2018 term.

If I may, I’d like to thank the Arts in Education portal for offering me this chance to share the process; Rebecca Mclaughlin and Niall Muldoon in the OCO for their support and vision in making this happen; Helen Beaumont and Lorraine Cormer in the National Museum’s Education Department for all that they did in hosting the exhibition, giving it a platform and providing expert facilitation on museum curation to the students; Richard Bruton for officially opening the exhibition; the students at Larkin Community College, and staff Siobhán Mckenzie, Declan Quinn, Emma O’Reilly, and Principal Thomas Usher. In particular I would like to thank Assistant Principal Máire O’Higgins, without whose drive, vision and passion for education and art, this wouldn’t have started and would have fallen at the first hurdle.

 

Limited Places Left

Baboró International Arts Festival for Children

Date: July 2nd – 6th 2018 from 9.30am to 2.00pm

Would you like to build on your ability to use the creative arts to aid learning in the classroom?  This July 2-6 Baboró International Arts Festival for Children presents a five-day, EPV Department of Skills and Education approved summer course, which has been specially designed to explore the use of drama, both as a subject as well as a methodology. The aim of this CPD course is to inspire and augment learning in the classroom and enrich the professional practice of teachers and educators. A limited number of tickets remain.

The course provides participants with an opportunity to gain insights and practical tools to explore drama in the classroom in a safe and relaxed environment, supported and mentored by drama specialist and primary teacher Irene O’Meara. The emphasis is on process drama and enhancing teacher and child experience in the classroom.

Who is it for?

This professional development course is suitable for teachers and professionals working with children, who are enthusiastic about gaining useful drama tools to support their teaching via an integrated approach within the primary curriculum, and using drama games and strategies to enable their students to become directly involved in their own learning.

What will you learn?

The course has a practice-based approach, and offers participants 5 days of rich, fun and engaging learning, enabling them to enjoy engaging in drama activitieswith students in a confident manner while exploring a broad range of stimuli for the creation of drama. It will also help participants to feel better equipped to deepen students’ experience of the arts via simple exercises in pre and post engagement.

About the Facilitator

Irene O’Meara is a Drama specialist and primary school teacher, who has been facilitating In-Service for over two decades, and has designed and delivered programmes in Drama, Integrated Arts, Literacy, and Early Childhood Education. Irene has worked in the Drama Department at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and is currently a tutor and assessor with Hibernia College.

Course Details
Baboró CPD 2018 ‘Drama Tools for the Classroom’
July 2nd – 6th 2017 from 9.30am to 2.00pm
The O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, NUI Galway
Course Cost €70 per person
Places Limited to 23
Attendees Receive: Certificate of Participation

For more details please contact Baboró on 091 562 667, email admin@baboro.ie or online here www.baboro.ie/news-events/cpd-2018

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 3: Rights Museum

In my last blog post I detailed “Phase 1” of the process in which I facilitated drama and storytelling workshops with the 2nd year Art students at Larkin Community College, and the work-in-progress of the Rights Museum project which we presented in Croke Park for the OCO’s UNCRC25 Launch.

Although the presentation in Croke Park was supposed to be a “work-in-progress”, any readers who have done works-in-progress themselves will know there’s an inevitable sense of completion that sets in afterwards. Our challenge for “Phase 2” of the Rights Museum project was finding something new in executing the same idea. At the same time, the Art teachers Declan Quinn and Siobhán Mackenzie (who had been an essential energetic and creative force through the process from the beginning) started to feel the gravitational pull of the curriculum on their time, and thought that to continue with the process would be consume more time than they could afford to give. So, it was with some difficulty that we decided to draw a line under the phase 1 with the second year art students. This, I’m sure is a challenge and a decision many educators reading this will understand.

In order to continue, Máire O’Higgins, Deputy Principal and coordinator of artistic partnerships, needed to find an enthusiastic teacher and a group students who could benefit from the work. This she found in abundance in Emma O’Reilly and her first year CSPE class.

The task now was to recreate the process of phase one with a new group. This time, given that they were a CSPE class, we decided to find our way in through the UNCRC. Emma O’Reilly gave an introduction class to the United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child, supported by me and Máire O’Higgins. Human Rights is one of the core pillar concepts of their CSPE course which they would normally cover in second year, so there was a curricular link there.

In our next session we asked the students to pick what they considered to be the most essential article in the UNCRC and to say why. We found their answers tended to cluster around the articles relating to family (and this was a theme we saw bare out in the objects they chose for the museum later). As the students told us which articles they thought were essential , my job as facilitator was to foment debate and dissent.

I used an exercise called “The Continuum” in which we cleared away the tables and chairs, nominated one end of the room to be “strongly agree” and the other side to be “strongly disagree” with “unsure” in the middle. When I said a statement, the students had to place themselves in the room, depending on how they felt about the statement. So, for example I might say “’Article 24; you have the right to healthcare’ is the most essential right” and the students would place themselves in the room depending on whether they agreed or strongly disagreed or somewhere in the middle. Then I would call on people who had taken the most extreme positions to say why. As they listened to the conversation and opposing points, students were encouraged to change their positions in the room as they changed their minds.

In this way, the students learned, from each other, the importance of their rights through the personal anecdotes they shared; they learned about their rights in reality. Choosing extreme statements to polarise opinion at the start and then allowing them to tease out the nuances among themselves.

In my next, and final, blog post I’ll describe how we applied this knowledge to museum curation; how one can tell stories and create meaning through selecting  and placing objects. I’ll describe the process of working with the National Museum of Ireland, the launch of our completed Rights Museum exhibition in the National Museum at Collins Barracks and the Education Pack being commissioned by the OCO based on the Rights Museum.

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 2: Rights Museum

The Rights Museum is a participatory art project that attempts to allow our objects do just that. Its subject is the lives of the second-year Art students in Larkin Community College and how the rights enshrined in the UNCRC intersect with their actual lived experience. Or don’t.

In the last post I described the beginnings of the project idea and the partners who came together to make in happen; Larkin Community College, The Ombudsman for Children’s Office and the National Museum of Ireland.

I began work on “Phase 1” of the project in September 2017 with two second-year Art classes, along with teachers Siobhán McKenzie and Declan Quinn. I facilitated four weekly hour-long workshops  on Wednesday afternoons outside of class time. I also worked with the students in their art classes with their teachers.

The workshops used drama and storytelling techniques to three main aims; to surprise and entertain, to get them cooperating as a group, not just individuals; and to introduce new forms of self-expression. That work included a simple ball throwing and catching exercise (acknowledging the stress that it causes, allowing ourselves to drop the ball, and focussing on the thing that mattered; that we were all working together calmly to the get the ball around the circle). We also stood in a circle and played what I call “Kung Foo” (of which there’s many variations including “zip, zap, boing”) We also played a game in which 5 participants sit in a row, and then take turns standing up and saying “My name is X” followed by something that’s true. The aim is to always have someone standing and sating something, to act on the impulse to fill a gap where it occurs and to say anything that’s true, however mundane, that come into your head. This exercise allows for back-and-forth conversations to emerge, (eg. “My name is Dan and I have two brothers” followed by “My name is Stacy and I also have two brothers”) and for the participants to get to know each other better and have a way of expressing themselves through the exercise.

In two Art classes a week, I focussed more directly on the task of creating a Rights Museum. That time was devoted to introducing the concepts of the UNCRC (supported by a workshop delivered by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office) and a focus on objects and what story they can tell (supported by a “If Objects Can Talk” workshop in National Museum of Ireland).

The students were asked to pick an object that was meaningful to them and to bring it in to class.

They were asked to “free-write” about it.

They were asked to stand up and share why it was meaningful to them and what articles in the UNCRC it referred to.

This process lead the students to share among the following objects with their class:

In their other session each week, Ms McKenzie’s class divided into 4 groups. Each group took a theme of the UNCRC and created a large mind-map illustrating that theme and the rights that it represented. Mr Quinn’s class also divided into 4 groups and created interactive paper fortune tellers which illustrated the four themes.

The culmination of phase 1 was a work-in-progress presentation of the Rights Museum took place in Croke Park as part of the OCO’s launch of the UNCRC25 celebrations in September 2017. It featured :

The participants reported their surprise and delight at how their objects and artwork were displayed just like in a professional museum. They also reported experiencing a thrill at seeing other people coming to view their objects and read their writing, and a great sense of achievement in what they’d produced.

The work-in-progress was intended to mark the end of phase 1 and the beginning of another, but we were soon to discover that it had the sense of an ending in and of itself. For phase 2 of the work, we would be starting again with a new set of students and finding a way to join the work that both groups had done.
 

The Ark

Date: Saturday 10th March

Teachers are invited to enjoy a morning exploring a range of simple and accessible drama processes for the classroom using the Irish language. Using The Ark’s season theme of Me & the City and aspects of the primary curriculum as a bouncing off point, you will have the chance to develop confidence and skills in working thematically through drama in Irish. The workshop will focus on activities suitable for 2nd-6th class. It will be presented bilingually and is suitable for teachers at all levels of confidence in working through Irish.

Saturday 10 March @ 10:30 am to 1.30pm

For more information go to www.ark.ie/events/view/cpd-for-teachers-drama-sa-seomra-ranga-drama-in-the-classroom

The Civic Theatre, Tallaght

Schools Performances – Thursday 25th at 12 pm & Friday 26th January at 10am and 2pm

Original plays, written by 15/16 year old playwrights, provide a unique glimpse into the world of our young people; articulating their experience and their reality.

TENDERFOOT, meaning neophyte, newbie, greenhorn, is The Civic Theatre’s apprentice theatre programme for transition year students.  Now in its eleventh year the programme provides students from eight different schools in the South County Dublin region the opportunity to create and perform original work for the stage. From January 25th to 27th this work can be seen in The Civic Theatre.  Plays written by young people, telling their stories, presenting the world as they see it.  These diverse and exciting plays, the work of young theatre makers, include –

The End of the Beginning by Tadhg Slye, an exploration of male friendship in a world of exams and first girlfriends and exploding toasters.

Plastic by Jordan Lee, a supernatural chiller guaranteed to make you jump out of your seat.

Seaside Story by Aidan Kelly, a comedy about families, holidays and global warming.

And Just for the Cracked by Chloe O’Flaherty which takes a fly on the wall look at a group of young people who find their friend unconscious and unresponsive at a party.

Tenderfoot Performances 2018

Schools Performances Thursday 25th at 12 pm & Friday 26th January at 10am and 2pm

Admission €10 / €5 concession

Booking 01 4627477  www.civictheatre.ie/ whats-on/tenderfoot-new- writing-showcase-2018/

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Wed 21st – Fri 23rd February 

Rooting through an old trunk, Barney and his dad find more than they bargained for and a few things that set them wondering. Who makes the rules? What happens if you break the rules? And who is the lady with the beard?

Join them as they spread their wings in this comic tale of forgotten memories and future possibilities.

Written by award-winning children’s writer Brendan Murray and directed by Martin Drury, founder of The Ark – A Cultural Centre for Children.

‘Barney Carey Gets His Wings’ is a world-premiere of a new play for children in 1st to 4th classes, their teachers and families.

2 teachers free per class.

For bookings contact Watergate Theatre at www.watergatetheatre.com

For further information go to www.barnstorm.ie

Baboró International Arts Festival for Children

1 – 4 February, 2018

Baboró International Arts Festival for Children will host an exciting and imaginative programme of theatre and dance shows for babies and children aged 0 – 6 years, presented by Irish and international artists. Wide Eyes is a one-off four-day European celebration of Performing Arts for very young children that will take place in Galway from 1 – 4 February, 2018.

As well as an extensive workshop and performance programme for schools and early years groups, Wide Eyes will feature a range of talks and workshops for early years professionals, including a talk for early years educators and artists, Celebrating the Creative Arts in Early Years Setting, presented in collaboration with Early Childhood Ireland. There are also a limited number of delegate packages available for the event.

Wide Eyes is the culmination of a four-year ‘Small size, Performing Arts for Early Years’ project with European partners from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK and Ireland.

Wide Eyes will see 140 arts professionals from 17 organisations and 15 countries gather in Galway to present an extravaganza of new dance and theatre shows for 0-6 year olds developed specifically under the project’s overarching theme of ‘Wide Eyes’. The concept for Wide Eyes, developed by Project Leader, Roberto Frabetti of La Baracca – Testoni Ragazzi in Italy, is rooted in the belief that children are never too young to quite literally have their eyes opened wide in amazement while they experience the performing arts. The programme will feature performances for schools, crèches and families, produced by some of Europe’s finest creators of Early Years work, as well as professional development workshops and industry symposia.

For more information and to view the full programme of events go to www.baboro.ie/wide-eyes

Schools performances will take place on Thursday, 1 February and Friday, 2 February. We welcome bookings from early years groups such as; preschools, crèche and Montessori, junior and senior infants and those with additional needs.

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Sleeper Creeper was a collaborative creation between Robbie Perry (musician), Annie Callaghan (artist) and Philip Doherty (playwright) and was performed in Townhall Cavan at the end of 2016 as part of their seasonal programming for children. The success of the show duly inspired Joanne Brennan (Arts in Education CMETB) to approach Robbie and Annie and adapt Sleeper Creeper for a pilot project to run in two selected primary schools, one in Cavan and one in Monaghan. The original show was quite complex in its clever use of artistic disciplines. From live and improvised music being layered throughout, the use of loop machines to projected shadow puppetry involving unique, as well as, everyday objects. All of this was performed with no dialogue and told the story of an old and lonely inventor who miraculously creates a living being from parts that he finds amongst junk. Their friendship grows from their collaborative performances and zany situations they find themselves in.

Rather than try to create the same performance for young students, Robbie and Annie chose an entirely new story titled, Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream in which Paddy Red Downey fishes for junk and finds himself transported to a world beyond his wildest dreams eventually hearing an old women’s voice calling him to return home and share his new found wonders with everyone.

Andrea Malone, Teacher

The Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream project was easily one of the most effective projects I have been involved in. Initial conversations with Joanne Brennan (Arts in Education CMETB) and meetings with Robbie and Annie entailed planning, organising and ensuring all requirements were met e.g. garda vetting, school space, curriculum linkage etc. Robbie and Annie also met with the children to introduce themselves and explain the project.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

The ideas were developed as a direct result of the principles of Sleeper Creeper. A multidisciplinary approach to art form and the themes based around recycling and repurposing of everyday materials and junk. The story itself was created as a catalyst for inspiring young minds. Using the story as an opening for the project workshops, we were able to demonstrate to the young audience aspects of theatre, drama, storytelling, music and shadow puppetry that they would in turn learn to use over a two day period for their own collective performance.

The teacher allowed Robbie and Annie to bring the children around the school grounds to examine and collect, in pairs, any objects they found of interest. These objects were then projected through the use of an analog overhead projector and discussed openly and collectively on how their appearances changed with our changing perceptions. This example facilitates a validation process for the individual in what they later view as art and how it can then be manipulated and viewed to help create a story.

Then began a separation of the group into two halves. One half facilitated by Annie and the shadow puppetry and the other half by Robbie and music creation as a means to underscore the students very own production.

The teacher’s role within this workshop was almost only to observe and maintain any control if needed. It cannot be overstated how important this approach was to the project overall. Conversations and shared opinions with the teacher, revealed aspects and qualities of each student’s character as they worked closely and intensely with the artists that were keenly observed and somewhat enlightening to the teacher.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

The project itself was quite experimental. We hadn’t taken something as complex as our performance, and adapted it with a workshop in mind ever before. Also, there were many challenges such as time needed for the students to learn multiple skills with a final performance, questions regarding the suitability of their classrooms, rather than a hall for the workshops etc. We were very pleased to find that we coped quite favorably with all these challenges which were also challenges for the schools. The fact that we could work within the classroom meant no upset to the rest of the school in organizing or rearranging scheduled use of alternative rooms. Also, the fact that the hours we put in were arranged for an intense two days consecutively meant a greater opportunity for all involved to focus and achieve a fully immersive creative experience.

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

One of the activities that I felt really supported the children’s confidence with regards to the music aspect was the time in which they were allowed to explore the different instruments. I found that at the age the children were at doing the projects, they were conscious of whether or not they were “good at” something. It can often be hard to try and get them to engage fully in something if they feel it is on an area that they aren’t talented in. However, the vast arrange of musical instruments that were available to them allowed them to try out their musical abilities on them. I found that my class would often associate musical talent as to whether or not you could play the piano etc. However, with the way in which they were able to explore the vast array of instruments and create backing music for a story, it was a whole new side to music for them. It was also something that after we had engaged with in the workshop, they wanted to do it more in class. The more exposure they get to experience this, the more confident they will grow in it.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

Probably the most significant thing for us was the true potential of each and every student to achieve in an extremely short but significant amount of time, an entire production. From inception until final performance in front of an audience, the entire class worked as a team with individuals quickly finding their strengths and how best they could contribute to the group as a whole. It was wonderful to observe, for example, two students that were much happier to be a part of the technical projection work rather than perform music or drama. This revealed for us the complex range of interests within any given group and reinforces the idea that we need projects that provide more opportunities which exercise the potential for total inclusivity.

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

Telling of a story is something most children love to do. Some I have found can find it difficult telling a story when they have to write it- for many different reasons. E.g. some might find spelling difficult and get so caught up on whether a word is spelt correctly or not hinders their story telling ability as they don’t get their story finished. The way in which the children were allowed to tell a story through art and music really developed confidence in not only the children who love writing stories but also in the children who find that hard. While doing this they were also developing their Drama skills- even though they may not have realised that. They were able to use their imagination and tell a story not only with their drawings but just by using environmental objects- again, allowing those who didn’t feel confident in their artistic abilities to still their artistic confidence by using environmental objects in an artistic way. It was something that they really enjoyed. They developed so many different skills by doing the project, learnt lots of new things without realising it.

Andrea Malone, Teacher

This process of choice supported confidence in its own right. The children learned through many different methodologies that suited all learners. Robbie and Annie facilitated so appropriately but still allowed the children to have responsibility for their own learning.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

It has only further increased my belief in the creative potential of children and the potential of group orientated creative projects

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

It has changed the way in which I teach arts education as it reminded me how important it is to not only teach the subjects but to allow them to co-exist with each other, to use them together as a way to allow for further exploration as to what they can achieve when combined.

It has given me more confidence in doing projects like this, integrating the Arts subjects- along with others, in the classroom

Andrea Malone, Teacher

This project has given me the confidence as an educator to give the children much more responsibility for their learning. My Arts lessons are less structured which has resulted in a smoother flow to lessons. The power of integration throughout the Arts subjects was evident throughout the ‘Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream’   project hence I have increased integration throughout Drama, Art, Music and Physical Education.

‘Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream’ was a wonderful project where I witnessed children growing in self-confidence, learning and having so much fun!

Graffiti Theatre Company

Touring: November – December 2017

‘The world may be in miniature but the story is universal …’

Walking Man tells the tale of a man who has spent his whole life in pursuit of success.  He has always rushed headlong through life, determined to follow in his father’s footsteps to the best job on the top floor of the tallest building in the whole city. And when he has done all that, with Walking Woman and little Walking Baby at his side, something doesn’t feel quite right …

So, Walking Man must go on an entirely new journey, which takes him far from home.

Walking Man is a charming allegory, which will captivate its audience. With the help of an original live music score, the actor brings us into the miniature world of the Walking Man, a tiny wooden figure.

Walking Man is designed for 1st, 2nd & 3rd classes and performs to one class at a time (up to a maximum of 35 students). The accompanying Teacher Resource Book (available online) links carefully with the curriculum across a range of subject areas.

Please note: Graffiti Theatre can give your school the exciting opportunity to attend a performance in their fully equipped Theatre on Assumption Road. If the performance is booked to take place in your school please contact Graffiti for space requirements.

Cost: Thanks to their funders, Graffiti Theatre Company can offer this production for just €150 per performance (and €100 for a second performance on the same day).

For more information & booking: tel. 021 4397111,  email:bookings@graffiti.ie

www.graffiti.ie

Barnstorm Theatre Company & Watergate Theatre

Wed 29 November to Sat 2 December

Post-primary schools in the south-east are in for a theatrical treat this November and December!

Due to the success of last year’s first Curriculum Play Live co-production with the Watergate Theatre: Brian Friel’s Translations, Barnstorm Theatre Company’s second Curriculum Play is Seán O’Casey’s ‘The Plough and the Stars’.

These productions are in response to requests over the years from post-primary schools to produce a curriculum play and to give students the opportunity to see the play that they are studying as live theatre, and not solely as a text to be studied in the classroom.
The Plough and the Stars is one of the greatest in the Irish canon and one that Barnstorm and the Watergate are proud to present as the second Curriculum Play. (Barnstorm values input from teachers about our next curriculum play.)

Watergate Theatre:
Wed 29 November to Sat 2 December; performances nightly at 8pm.

School performances:
Thursday 29 November – 10.30am
Friday 1 December – 10.30am

Tickets :

€10 –  student groups of 10+

€18 / €15 concession

Watergate Box Office:  056 7761674

For more www.watergatetheatre.com

 

Vicky Donnelly is coordinator of the Galway One World Centre, and works on the design and delivery of the Global Teachers Award CPD programme, as well as development education and antiracism workshops for schools, community groups and universities. 

Vicky Donnelly Headshot

Exploring Refuge and Migration Issues With Young Children: notes from Baboro’s Primary In-Career Course, Drama Tools for the Classroom.

You know you’re in good hands when the facilitator of a week-long course for primary teachers, can guide a roomful of strangers from the polite stiffness of a Monday morning, to improvising scenes at a horse fair, and tracking the thoughts of a young character’s deepest fears and longings, all before lunch on the first day.

For the first week in July I had the good fortune to spend a week participating in Baboro’s ‘Drama Tools for the Classroom’, facilitated by the truly remarkable Irene O’Meara, who drew effortlessly from her vast experience in theatre, music, visual arts, a Masters in Drama and Theatre Studies, and all refined through years of real life experience in the classroom.  In addition to a number of primary school teachers, our diverse group included a youth mentor, a Spanish teacher, a Community Circus coordinator, an after-schools programme animator, a couple of play therapists, and me; a development education worker with the Galway One World Centre.

GOWC’s function is to provide workshops for schools, youth and community groups addressing a range of local and global justice issues, including refuge and migration; poverty; and anti-racism perspectives. Since 2012, GOWC has been delivering the Global Teachers Award programme in Ireland, offering training around the country for teachers who wish to bring a greater global justice perspective to their work.

In that time, the issue of rights for people fleeing danger and persecution has become increasingly urgent, along with the need to create opportunities to explore it in the classroom. But how? There are real challenges involved in addressing a crisis of this scale, in the context of rising Islamophobia, racism and right-wing sentiments, and a crushing accommodation crisis at home. And even greater challenges emerge when working with young children. There are numerous teaching resources available, and some of our own materials developed in-house, but I came looking for fresh ideas and inspiration about how Drama might offer ways of engaging younger children. In particular, I was seeking an age-appropriate approaches, that would allow for deep exploration of thoughts and feelings, and build empathy, without overwhelming children, but also, without trivialising the issues.

Over the course of the week, Irene shared numerous insights, tips and practical examples from her vast knowledge and experience, taking us through a number of drama conventions and sharing ideas about books, poems, artefacts and images for prompts. For my purposes though, most useful was her reminder of the 3 prerequisites for drama in the classroom: a safe environment; appropriate content; and a fictional lens.

While these are, of course, essential for approaching any theme, they provided me with a helpful framework to guide and anchor the design of classroom activities and lesson plans on the theme of refuge and migration.

The safety of the environment, beyond the practical need to ensure that the space is free of hazards, may also include considerations about working in smaller groups, to avoid intimidating ‘high-focus’ attention, or to ensure that consent is sought in advance before ‘spotlighting’ individuals. This concern for a safe environment also spills over into the need to make sensitive choices about the content being presented: is it age appropriate? Whose perspective is being shared? Are the characters portrayed as having agency, or as helpless victims?

Then comes the fictional lens. At a time of unprecedented crisis – over 65 million people are now displaced from their homes by war, conflict and persecution – I found myself gently steered away from the stark world of statistics and terrifying news reports, to the more accessible world of fiction.

Irene’s frequent reminders of the power of the fictional lens to explore potentially ‘difficult issues’, were peppered with quotes from the likes of Emerson and Camus (“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth”) and were accompanied with examples from the classroom, using storybooks, such as the beautifully illustrated When Jesse Came Across the Sea (Amy Hest and PJ Lynch) and Oskar and the Eight Blessings (Tanya and Richard Simon).  Though perhaps removed, geographically and temporally, from today’s crisis, the issues raised in these stories have much in common with the contemporary crisis, and provide opportunities for children to make those connections for themselves, and to explore the values, tensions, conflicts and opportunities attached to each.  Even seemingly whimsical storybooks, such as The Lighthouse Keeper’s Rescue (Rhonda and Simon Armitage), were opened up as spaces for young children to consider how it might feel to be displaced, or to need help from the wider community, as well as celebrating the diversity within a community that makes change possible.

While the news from Syria, Sudan or Iraq may be overwhelming for children (and, frankly, for many adults), the story of one child, or one family, will contain some universally recognisable details and concerns, and may be more relatable for pupils. All children love to play. All children want to feel safe.

This was the thinking behind German author, Kirsten Boie’s decision to base her book Everything Will Be Alright, on the experiences of a young Syrian girl, Rahaf, and her family. In Kirstens’ book, the family’s luggage, containing Rahaf’s doll, is stolen by people smugglers on the journey across the Mediterranean. “She’s very unhappy about losing her doll that way. The children here always start by asking, ‘Has she got her doll back?’ I think the reason for that is that this is something that they can imagine [happening to] themselves, whereas all the bombs and fighting and nights on the Mediterranean… they can’t imagine that happening to themselves. “Stories,” she explains, “…always make it much easier for children to understand something more than theoretical knowledge. I think that’s the chance we have…”

Briefly tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did it get started?

The story began with a play, After Dark, by Olivier Award-winning English playwright, Mike Kenny. It is about fear of the dark and plays to First and Second Class pupils in primary schools. Graffiti first produced the play in of Spring 2015 accompanied by a short workshop. The company has a long track record of developing workshops using educational drama methods linked to the curriculum and to supporting teacher and pupil practice. The second time we produced the play we decided to build a substantial workshop around the play that could also function as a stand-alone workshop related to science.

We thought it was interesting to relate Drama to Science. Doctor Darkness could help investigate things related to nighttime. It began with nocturnal animals. This is part of the ‘Living Things’ Strand of the curriculum for First and Second Class and the Strand Unit is ‘Plants and Animals’. It also allowed us to use the Curriculum Skills of Predicting, Hypothesising and Investigating – all key skills in Science.

For some reason we immediately came up with something which made us smile! Doctor Darkness immediately offered roles for the teacher (Chief Scientist), pupils (Investigators and Specialist Expert Groups of Scientists) and Doctor Darkness, who desperately needs their help to restore the world’s faith in the value of darkness!

We trialed Doctor Darkness with the help of six schools with whom we were about to begin another research project that involves teachers and pupils in active collaboration and research. We felt that this curriculum rich workshop helped establish confidence in the use of drama methods and developed good and sharing relationships with teachers and pupils. From our point of view, by building on the teacher’s own practice and by ensuring support in the teacher’s use of very light role, we are building confidence in the use of role in the classroom.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Educational Drama creates a world in a classroom where the exploration of a fictional hypothesis allows everyone to have a voice, to share authority and to explore ideas.

Each of the four groups of children in their classroom were experts in their fields, the teacher the instigator and monitor of the investigations and consultant authority on the dark, and the facilitator had a problem which could only be answered with the help of the experts.

Each class has its own atmosphere and dynamic and because there are no absolute answers authority is given to the children to decide and to follow up. All participants are explorers together.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

There was a lot to smile about for all participants and it was one of those special projects where there were few challenges. That’s not to be complacent – a lot of hard work and stepping out of comfort zones happened.

There really is very little training for teachers in the use of drama as a teaching method and teachers frequently fear that they will make fools of themselves, lose control, not have the confidence and so forth. It takes courage to take the first step into role.

By having a support adult in role and by taking on a role very similar to that of a teacher the pressure is eased and the teacher is more free to try things out. With this challenge came great positivity and a willingness to engage which made this a really enjoyable experience for all.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Creating an atmosphere of shared responsibility, mutual respect and mutual support, trust and daring is at the center of collaborative exploration and invention.

Ways in which this came about include:-
1. Being open to discussion – e.g., willing to be flexible with the workshop
2. Setting clear learning objectives and learning outcomes
3. Being passionate about the use of drama to support learning development
4. By building on the teacher’s own practice
5. By using clear curriculum links
6. By working in partnership with teachers, children and schools
7. By observing and sharing best practice
8. By giving the teacher and the children an active and exploratory role in the session, eliciting prior knowledge and extending learning/teaching

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

The relationship with teachers, pupils and management has been enhanced and that has given us and, we hope, them a firm ground to move into our collaborative research project, Raising My Voice, which we mentioned earlier.  Raising My Voice is based on the Young People’s Voices in Decision Making document from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Further Feedback from the Teachers.

Throughout the workshop, children took on new roles, explored their creativity and enjoyed the freedom to decide things for themselves. The inclusive and safe atmosphere that was created enabled quieter children to freely express themselves and contribute their own solutions to the problems that emerged.

The children benefited from engaging with a variety of drama methods at the hands of experts. The children gained confidence and competence from seeing a teacher being creative and ‘becoming’ a different character – just like themselves.

The classroom set-up is usually children and teacher. By crashing through the barrier, whereby children and teacher engage with a third entity (in this instance Graffiti Theatre Company), the usual boundaries were crossed creating a unique and powerful opportunity for growth and development. The teacher became one of the children in a sense, and this had a tangible effect on the quieter, less outgoing children who really relaxed and engaged.


!!!! I-Stem Project Teacher Resource – The Gaiety School of Acting

The Gaiety School of Acting

Despite the fact that scientific developments permeate and enrich the lives of young people on a daily, or even hourly basis, studies across Europe are identifying pockets of this demographic that are struggling to relate to and engage with the science curriculum in the classroom. According to Science Foundation Ireland’s 2015 Science Barometer report, young women from less affluent backgrounds are less inclined to identify with science education at second level. This has a direct impact on the number of students from this demographic advancing to third level and ultimately working within the field.

Drilling down further into the statistics, researchers have found that young women from a cultural minority background or who identify as LGBTQIAP+ are even less likely to develop a positive scientific identity, meaning a far reduced number of people from these societal groups tend to aspire to careers in science.

With the aim to address these gaps in science engagement, The Gaiety School of Acting has teamed up with partners from Ireland, Finland, Poland and Holland to investigate ways in which performance, and specifically comedy improvisation, can be utilised by science educators to impact on their students in a new and dynamic way. The three year I-Stem  project, supported by the Erasmus Plus fund, began on September 1st 2020.

In its first publication ‘Creative Methods in Science Teaching – Ways Forward!’ an e-book resource for teachers, STEM subjects are related to arts. Use of arts in education tell us something about society: our educational systems and its angles of entry are creating the scientists of tomorrow. The combination of arts and science gives us a better starting point to develop our full potential which is needed when creating something new.

The publication has a preface video from Dr. Niamh Shaw, to view go to istem-project.eu/e-book/

This publication presents research and best practices of using arts as a means of improving pedagogy and classroom practice in STEM education. In these pages “STEAM” represents STEM plus the arts–humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media. It draws on theoretical understandings of arts in STEM disciplines to illustrate how researchers and practitioners are using creative initiatives to promote inclusive teaching approaches.

The e-book is aimed at post-primary school teachers who are currently using arts within their teaching practice or have an interest in doing so in the future. Examples of STEAM teaching in Poland, the Netherlands, Ireland and Finland are given. It is not intended to provide a fully comprehensive exploration of all aspects of arts in STEM disciplines. The I-Stem Project acknowledges the necessary limitations of this resource, but trusts that it will serve its purpose of guiding you through the main relevant concepts, and that it will give you insights and inspiration for your teaching.

To download the resource go to istem-project.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/I-STEM_e-book.pdf

!!!! Early Years Video Workshop: Shy Mouse & Show-Off Lion with The Ark

The Ark

Available until 31 December

Explore the importance of all creatures small and large in this video drama workshop from The Ark for ages 2-4 with their grown-ups led by Early Years Artist in Residency Joanna Parkes.

Mouse may be small and shy, but does that mean he can’t help the lion? Let’s see!

Using the Aesop’s Fable of The Mouse and The Lion as a starting point, pack your make-believe backpacks, set off to find the proud lion and see where your imaginations can take you.

If you like, you can bring a few things with you:

A cushion
A small bag or backpack
A soft toy (any favourite cuddly animal will do)
Wear an adventurer’s hat of any kind if you want!

Combining drama, story and play, this video workshop invites little ones and their grown-ups to enjoy imagining together. So if you’re a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunty, godparent or carer, join in with a 2 to 4 year old to discover, explore and create together in this delightful workshop adventure.

Recommended:

Watch Free Online – ark.ie/events/view/video-workshop-lion-mouse

For ages 2-4 and their grown-ups
Video duration: Approx. 15 mins, plus pauses for you to pretend and play in your own time at home

 

!!!! Gaiety School of Acting brings a little drama to your home

Gaiety School of Acting

Recognising the struggle so many parents are currently facing as they broach the mountainous task of home schooling their children during the Coronavirus restrictions, the Gaiety School of Acting has released a series of comprehensive and fun lesson plans to inject a little creativity and some POSITIVE drama to your household.

With 34 years experience in drama training, the Gaiety School of Acting teaches over 2000 children across their Young Gaiety schools in Bray, Malahide and Temple Bar annually, in a range of classes from Parent and Toddler Drama to Musical Theatre Company, Acting for Camera to an eclectic offering of seasonal camps.

Our Home Drama Resources have been developed by the GSA’s education team, and in addition to creative drama, provide a selection of science, craft and film-making activities for you and your children to explore a variety of themes, have fun, and escape from reality!

Every Thursday a new resource is released with the following themes already available on the website: The Lion King, Harry Potter, Roald Dahl, Monsters from the Movies, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

For further information and to access downloadable resources go to gaietyschool.com/home-resources/

 

!!!! Barnstorm Theatre presents ‘Alice and the Wolf’ – a new production for primary school students

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Dates: 4th, 5th, 6th – 9th of March 2020

Barnstorm Theatre Company is delighted to present its new production of ‘Alice and the Wolf’ by Tom Swift.

Alice spends virtually all her time in Wolf Wood. You know, the world’s deepest, darkest online game. Why not? Her dad isn’t around, her mother’s gone to Canada to meet a lumberjack and her best friend’s dumped her for a YouTube star.

But what happens when the people you meet online come looking for you in real life? Who can you trust, and who is the Big Bad Wolf? This re-telling of the Little Red Riding Hood story is a digital fairy tale that’s deliciously funny and full of dangerously dark twists.

Workshop
For County Kilkenny schools attending the play, we offer two in-school workshops:

These sessions are optional and capacity is limited, therefore they will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

Teachers’ Resources
A resource pack will be provided to participating teachers. Linked to the SPHE syllabus, the pack will provide a focus for exploration and discussion of themes raised through the play.

Performances of ‘Alice and the Wolf’ will take place at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny.

Dates & Times

Wednesday 04 March at 11.30am
Thursday 05, Friday 06 and Monday 09 March 2020 at 10.00am & 12.30pm

School Group Rate €10, one teacher free with each booking of 12

For more information or to obtain a resource pack, please contact Barnstorm Theatre at admin@barnstorm.ie, or call us on 056 7751266

Tickets are available online at watergatetheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873615598

!!!! ‘Asking For It’

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

In February 2018 Landmark Productions and Everyman Theatre Cork approached us to ask what ancillary activities would we be organizing around the production of ‘Asking For It’ they were planning to stage in June and which would subsequently transfer to the Abbey in November.

We all saw the necessity to involve young people in the story and so aside from the Abbey’s usual provision of post-show talks and podcasts we decided to take the work into schools as directly as possible. We planned a structure of pre and post show workshops to support any school who was going to see the play. We also committed to the creation of a teachers study pack which could appeal to many levels of ability.

After speaking about schools visits to Louise O’Neill, the author of the novel on which the play was based, it became clear that we needed specific training in dealing with this project. Louise’s disturbing experience had been that in nearly every school she had visited herself at least one young woman had disclosed she had experienced sexual assault.

On 24th July we hosted a workshop by Tender UK a theatre company that specializes in exploring issues of abuse with post primary students. On their advice we changed the original plan of having a sole female facilitator to having workshops run by both a male and female so they could model healthy gender relationships. That’s when I stopped just managing the project and stepped in as co-facilitator.

Based on her previous work with the Abbey we contacted actor and facilitator Aoibheann McCaul and she and I planned the post-show workshop together. Aoibheann also attended a training session at the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Aoibheann and Phil started visiting schools in October using applied drama to explore the students’ sense of the characters involved in the story and any links they had to students’ own sense of gender roles, friendship dynamics and sexual consent. These pre-show workshops were introductory and often didn’t go into the ethics of consent or even the plot of the play if the students’ weren’t already aware of the story. We wanted the students to experience it theatrically. For those that were aware of the book though, we found that for some the issues of assault were still unclear, “Well she took him into the room so she was asking for it, wasn’t she?”

The groups went to performances of ‘Asking For It’ at the Abbey Theatre and met a couple of the cast afterwards.  The actors had all volunteered to talk to the students and were eager to engage with their responses. These ranged from the shy and practical (“How do learn your lines?”) to more in depth enquiries “How do you play someone so nasty?” “Why did you choose to do this particular play?” “What’s it like having to play Emma over and over again?”. One all-girl’s school which had been skeptical about assault changed their view completely and demanded their teachers give them better sex education in future especially about consent.

Aiobheann and Phil then returned do the schools for a two hour long post show workshop that built on the previously introduced techniques of statues, tableaux and walking in character to explore how both the characters and the students themselves had changed over the course of the evening.

As with the pre-show workshops we used a basic drama technique to encourage recollection  of a lived moment e.g. “How did you feel at the interval of the play?” or “What moment do you remember most about the beginning of the show?” and then encouraged others to ‘read’ these and reflect upon them.  The majority of the workshop was taken up with creating tableaux of the most striking moments of play and then exploring what could have been going through the characters minds at the time. This meant we could explore many of the themes of the work –gender dynamics, peer pressure, sexual consent, family tension – from inside realistic illustrations of how these manifest in behavior. Some highlights of this were the complex dynamics of single gender friendship groups, what was going through the minds of the young men while they were assaulting Emma, how Emma’s father uses emotional blackmail to reinforce her decision to drop the charges.

We also looked at how characters’ lives were changed by the events of the play and again found quite a range of responses from those who thought e.g. Zoe would be 1/ glad that she could now “Take over Emma’s place as top girl.” to  “/ Zoe will be even more cowed by the knowledge her assailant, Dylan, has avoided prosecution for a second assault. It was in this section that the students really got to see the differences in their views.

There was quite a range of responses with the majority of students becoming more understanding and articulate about the circumstances that led to Emma’s choices and how she had been raped. Our touchstone was whether they saw Emma’s encounter with Paul at the party as consensual or not (Emma is plainly on drugs and asks him to wait which he ignores). Before the show this encounter separated out those who had considered the theme of consent in any depth from those who followed conventional option.

Generally the more depth of engagement with the story and characters resulted in a more sympathetic response to the play and more varied and satisfying discussion. One school was already putting on their own play about consent looking at an incident from different viewpoints and our work here became much more do do with teasing out the nuances of motivation in the subsidiary characters e.g. why the mother was drinking, or how the father was avoiding responsibility when asking Emma if she really wanted to drop the charges.  We were surprised to find in another school they still felt Emma had been “asking for it” because she had taken drugs and therefore implicitly consented. In this school there was less empathy for the characters and many of them talked about Emma as ‘a girl like that would’ indicating the distance they felt to her. The work here was harder because the students seemed entrenched in their positions and surprised and resistance to being asked to question them.

The most dramatic changed came with one all girls school who in the pre-show had felt Emma had encouraged Paul. By the end of the show and in the post show workshops they were clear that the sexual double standards evident in society and the lack of appropriate sex education in the field of content were unacceptable.

At the time of writing this we have two more schools to visit. One, a private male only boarding school, will offer the most challenging work as some of the pupils were already defensive and dismissive of the whole premise of the story, believing it to be unrealistic and diverting the debate with arguments that some women lie, men get raped too etc….we were specifically asked to work here by an existing teacher because they felt attitudes towards women needed to be challenged.

For follow on work we created a Study Pack with an analysis of the play and its themes but also extra ancillary material on the history of consent in Ireland, plans of the pre and post show workshops, blogs by students form Cork who’d seen the original production and an example of a homegrown consent workshops. We also asked the pack’s main author, critic and activist Saoirse Anton, to contribute an essay on the connection between consumer culture and rape culture.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Phil Kingston, Community & Education Manager & Co-Facilitator

After speaking to Louise I had concerns about the work triggering traumatic experiences in the participants while remaining convinced it was essential young people be given a chance to engage with the issues directly; no amount of older generations talking about the topic of consent was going to make nearly as much difference as exploring it with their peers. I saw this clearly when attending a town hall meeting arranged by the Everyman Theatre and Land mark productions in Ballincollig where teacher Tim Burke arranged for his class to discuss the play with Louise O’Neil, Mary Crilly of the Cork Rape Crisis Centre. It was obvious the students previous discussions contributed to the depth and sympathy of their opinions as well as their intolerance of the lazy, self interested and vicious social forces that perpetuate rape culture.

So the visit of Tender UK was an eye opener about the depth of ignorance and indifference to young women’s agency they had encountered in schools already.  This prepared me for the casualness with which both young men and young women dismissed lead characters Emma’s behaviour as “asking for it”. It was still a challenge though especially when revisiting one inner city school after the play to find that many of the students opinions hadn’t changed and that “girls like that are half responsible”.

Methodologically all six schools proved so varied in responsiveness that we had to continually adapt our approach. This is more a highlight than a challenge because one of the pleasures of applied drama are those in-the-moment improvisations that help coax a non-responsive teenage into someone passionately arguing their point of view. It was also a pleasure to work closely with another facilitator, to be able to hand on to them and observe the different spin the took on what the young people were producing, to debrief and discuss afterwards and to have the space observe the students out of the main focus while your partner led.

All the groups became more responsive and engaged as the workshops went on, often prompting surprised teachers to exclaim how certain pupils were ‘coming out’ of themselves or asserting themselves more than usual. This may have been to do with the kinesthetic aspect of the work unlocking some student’s expressiveness ( a common enough result for applied drama) but also, especially with the young women, a reflection that the topic of gender inequality and consent was important enough to them to ‘raise their game’.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Seeing the play, which is very clear that the protagonist does not explicitly consent, wasn’t always enough to cut through the view that young women who take drugs, dress with sexual confidence and have sexual appetites must take responsibility if they are raped.

Every teacher we talked to was adamant their charges needed to be talking about this topic and as early in their school lives as possible.

There was one all boys schools that we were explicitly asked to visit because of the teachers’ concern about attitudes to women. The young men were indeed defensive and quick to offer counter examples of women lying about rape and we had to be clear the book and play of Asking For It are unequivocal in their depiction of an actual assault. The instinct to deflect the discussion then took an unusual route when they started to dismiss the story itself as unrealistic (“Those pictures would never have been left up there for so long”) and therefore not needing to be engaged with.

Despite having been worried, as mentioned previously, and prepared for the possibility that some participants might disclose that they had experienced assault the fast moving and generally fun nature of the workshops meant we never got to a space where this might have happened. We ensured that schools counsellors were aware of the work and many of them attended or kept in close communication. While the topics weren’t treated frivolously there was more a sense of the young people appreciated the respect shown by having them discuss them.

We were also worried that rules about reporting young people under 17 who revealed they had active sex lives would inhibit the discussion. This never happened and we managed to talk at length and in depth through the lens of the play and its characters without compromising any of the individuals involved.

Students Responses

‘The play had a huge effect on my awareness of my surroundings and really made me appreciate the life I have as the struggles portrayed in the play were devastating’. 

‘When the play was over it made me think how the word ‘rape’ is not being discussed as a problem. People are uneducated about the topic when they should’.

‘The play was very intense, the actors were very good at acting out their roles. By them doing this, it made the play very realistic’. 

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

A renewed enthusiasm to work with young people on ‘difficult’ topics.

A desire to continue to co-facilitate where resources allow.

A plan to use young people’s voice s more in the creation of study packs

Update from Phil Kingston, Community & Education Manager & Co-Facilitator

Facilitator Johanna Webb and I returned to the all boys school and were told a third of the class were in Australia on a school trip and this meant our two workshops would be smaller.

This was a very different encounter with these privileged and, mainly, self-confident young men. Before, with larger groups of 20-25, the atmosphere had been alternately raucous and resistant with obvious leaders asserting their authority and more introverted personalities being muted by the sheer size and testosterone levels.

This time there wasn’t any possibility of hiding and Joanna and I chose to take a very candid approach in the hope it would create openness all round. We told them how concerned we had been at the previous workshops, how genuinely interested in their responses we were and how we appreciated the difficult position they were in (that they had little contact with young women and that they might feel attacked by the topics we were discussing). After moving through some responses obviously designed to give us what we wanted they started to actually say what they thought, prefaced with such remarks as ” I know this is an unpopular opinion but..” Once they saw they weren’t getting jumped on the whole workshop took off.

(My thanks here to Louise O’Neill who sent me an article about sex education in America which prompted us to focus more on these young men’s ignorance than their antagonism.)

We kept to our existing structure of exercises which explored the play ( walking around as different characters at different points in the story, making tableaux of significant moments) and the commitment was as mixed as any group but really these were just a springboard to keep discussing the themes of the play. Some preoccupations emerged – how culpable are you for your actions if you are drunk, how inhibited by convention the parents were, how over the top the lads were presented. The turning point was asking them, if were they Conor, would they take advantage of Emma’s offer to have sex in the second half of the play. Their outraged refusals introduced the idea of conscience and by the end of each workshop they had all agreed that really you always ‘know’ if you are overstepping the bounds of respect for another person’s autonomy regardless of how drunk you are.

The final exercise is choosing lines from the play (spread out on the floor in front of them) and talking about why they are significant. Several of these are from Emma when she is doubting her own position “e.g. Maybe I am a slut”. They were all clear this was an example of someone betraying themselves out of a desire to ‘get back to normal’. They also talked about their own fears of how to approach the whole area of sex and when two exchange students from France and Spain talked with obvious experience of having reflected on these topics you could see, past the odd embarrassed titter, that the Irish boys were impressed less at the achievement and more at the maturity. They all acknowledged the urge to brag about sexual conquests and how difficult it was to talk with the sensitivity they were displaying now when in the company of other young men. We did point out they were doing it there and then.

They came across as frightened, confused and tender-hearted, with no problem individually understanding Emma’s situation but also subject to a culture that made this empathy almost impossible to act upon. They seemed glad to have had the chance to talk openly and were noticeably more honest in the first workshop when we were left unsupervised for the last ten minutes.

Out of a possible 30 we only worked with 20 but these included the young man who’d previously called one of the characters ‘a pregnant bitch’ ( showing not only casual misogyny but a complete misunderstanding of the play) and another who’d been disruptively cynical. Both these behaviours disappeared quickly in the atmosphere of seriousness that the topics demanded. The teachers were amazed by how responsive some of the boys were but I wasn’t surprised that once they were listened to they re-discovered this sense of responsibility.

Before, after first visiting this school, I felt I’d seen the breeding ground for not only the rugby players in the Belfast rape trial but also the barristers who so calmly used their privileged education to spin the events to their clients’ advantage. Now I saw young men who could be advocates for more compassionate attitudes. So long as they resist the pack mentality.

!!!! Artists & Teachers invited to the International Conference in Intercultural Education for Primary Schools

Grow from Seeds Programme

Date: 17 January 2020

The Grow from Seeds project intends to provide a programme designed to foster intercultural dialogue in Primary Schools recognising European Parliament priorities to address anti-social behaviour through social cohesion and inclusion, active citizenship and the empowerment and participation of pupils. The methodology used to deliver this education programme adopts multiple strands of Creative Drama, storytelling and performing arts which are proven to be highly motivating, multi-sensory and active learning tools. The Grow from Seeds project engages partners from Ireland, Germany and France, and is supported by Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership.

Teachers, policy makers, researchers, artists, drama practitioners and academics are invited to attend the International Conference in Intercultural Education for Primary Schools to explore new ways of understanding Intercultural Education in Primary Schools and the use of the creative arts as a tool to foster intercultural dialogue in primary schools..

Keynote Address

The conference event will include a keynote talk from Joe Little, RTÉ Religious and Social Affairs correspondent. The event will also showcase the work from the Grow from Seeds project as well as presentations and contributions from practitioners and educators through a panel discussion.

Venue: Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin

Date: 17th January 2020, 9.30am registration

RSVP by January 6th to educate@gaietyschool.com

 

 

!!!! Early Years Seedlings Workshops at The Ark: If at first you don’t succeed…

The Ark

10 – 11 January 2020

As the fun of the festive season fades and the new year sets in, this early years drama workshop for little ones aged 2-4 will explore how to cope when things go wrong. Part of First Fortnight festival and led by The Ark’s Early Years Artist in Residence, Joanna Parkes.

Oh dear! Elliott the Dragon is having a bad day. It’s a cold, snowy day and he’s fed up. Everything’s going wrong and he doesn’t know what to do. He says he’s going to give up and not try anymore but… maybe we can help him? Maybe we encourage him to try again? Maybe we can help him bounce back?

Join in to discover, explore and find out if you can help Elliott figure out how to be resilient in this delightful workshop adventure.

Combining drama, story, play and props, this interactive drama workshop invites little ones and their grown-ups to enjoy imagining together. So if you’re a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunty, godparent or carer, come along with a 2 to 4 year old and join in the fun.

For further information and bookings go to ark.ie/events/view/seedlings-first-fortnight2020

!!!! Theatre for Early Years: Moon Woke Me Up by Little Bigtop

The Ark

Dates: 14 – 29 December 2019

Little Bigtop in Association with The Civic

Escape into space in this fantastic interactive theatrical adventure for ages 3-5 from Little Bigtop in association with The Civic.

Moon Woke Me Up Nine times
It was still 4am
So I built a rocket with my friends
And went on a journey that never ends

Come up and away with us. Come and play with us.

You are invited to come and build a rocket that will BLAST OFF and take us on a magical adventure. Once inside their homemade rocket children are treated to a magical shadow show as they journey to the moon! Come with us all the way, up there, into outer space!

I wonder if it smells of cheese?
I wonder if it will make me sneeze?

Let’s find out!

Inspired by a Haiku of the same title by Basho Matsuo, Moon Woke Me Up is an interactive theatrical adventure to space for ages 3-5, using a wonderful blend of performance and interactive drama, construction play and sensory explorations.

For further information and bookings go to https://ark.ie/events/view/moon-woke-me-up

 

 

!!!! New Primary School Creative Programme at the Museum of Literature Ireland

Museum of Literature Ireland

The Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) are excited to offer a free primary school creative programme ‘Shut your eyes and see’ to Irish primary school teachers and students in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th class. Workshops explore Irish literature, past and present, hoping to inspire the next generation to read, write, and unlock their creative potential in whatever form it takes.

Developed in collaboration with students from our learning partner schools, teachers, educators, administrators and librarians, our programme is designed with different learning styles in mind.

We offer a two-hour experience in MoLI from 10am–12pm, during term time. Teachers and students participate in a creative workshop and a tour of our exhibition space and gardens.

Connecting to our exhibitions and gardens, and reflecting elements of the school curriculum, workshops seek to develop critical thinking and research skills as well as visual, verbal and information literacy.

When booking, primary school teachers can choose from one of three workshops:

To book go to moli.ie/book-a-primary-school-workshop/

For further information and to download a teachers resource pack go to moli.ie/learning/schools-and-teachers/

 

!!!! Early Years Seedlings Workshops at The Ark: Who Loves the Whirly, Swirly Wind?

The Ark 

Date: 1 & 2 November 2019

Embrace the wonders of the wind in this fun drama workshop for little ones aged 2-4, led by The Ark’s Early Years Artist in Residence, Joanna Parkes.

It’s a whirly, swirly, windy day and the Wind Wizards are busy at work. Not everyone likes the wind though, as it whips up fallen leaves and tousles their hair. Can the wind wizards help people see how wonderful the wind can be?

Join in to explore, imagine and discover your own secret love for the whistle and whoosh of the whispering wind.

Combining drama, story, play and props, this interactive drama workshop invites little ones and their grown-ups to enjoy imagining together. So if you’re a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunty, godparent or carer, come along with a 2 to 4 year old and join in the fun.

Dates & Times: 

Friday 1st November, 10.15am & 2pm
Saturday 2nd November, 10.15am & 11.45am

For ages 2- 4

45 minutes

For more information and booking go to ark.ie/events/view/seedlings-whirly-swirly-wind

!!!! The Ark invites schools to a new production – The Haircut!

The Ark 

Dates: 10 October – 2 November 2019

The Ark invites schools to the world premiere of a brand new show by Wayne Jordan and Tom Lane for Ages 8+.

Labhraidh Loingseach has a secret. He wears his hair long and he has it cut only once a year. Once a year on the same night in the same place and in the same style. But never by the same barber.

The Haircut is a cautionary tale with a live musical soundtrack. The Haircut is a fairytale remixed and retold.

The Haircut is a play about secrets and about creativity stifled. About fighting for what you believe in and standing up to power.

About music and magic and hair.

Set in a magical modern day Ireland, The Haircut is a new commission written by Wayne Jordan, delivered with ineffable charm by bright new talent Thommas Kane Byrne and accompanied by Tom Lane’s vibrant score played by three outstanding musicians.

Classroom Activity Pack

A new Classroom Activity Pack is available for teachers is available to download to accompany the production.  Created by Joanna Parkes and Anita Mahon – renowned specialist facilitators for educational drama and music programmes – the pack uses the show’s rich themes and ideas as a starting point for a range of engaging classroom activities and is a useful resource to teachers, whether or not they have seen the performance.

To download the full Classroom Activity Pack for The Haircut! go to ark.ie/news/post/just-released-the-haircut-classroom-activity-pack

Dates & Times

10 October – 2 November

School Days
Wednesday 16, Friday 18, & Wednesday 23, Friday 25 Oct @ 10.15am & 12.15pm

Mid-Term Break
Tuesday 29 October – Friday 1 November @ 2pm
Wednesday 30 October @ 7pm

Relaxed Performance Wednesday 30 October @ 2pm

For further information and ticket booking go to ark.ie/events/view/the-haircut

 

 

 

!!!! Early Years Seedlings Workshops at The Ark: Saving Selma the Seal

The Ark 

Dates: 2 & 3 August 2019

The Ark continue our monthly early-years programme Seedlings with a special workshop perfect for children ages 2-4 to get creative with their older relatives.

We’re heading to the sea this August in this early years drama workshop for little ones led by The Ark’s Early Years Artist in Residence Joanna Parkes.

Come on an imaginative journey to the beach! It’s a fine sunny day and the children are having fun playing in the sand. Then some unexpected visitors arrive and seem to behaving in a suspicious manner.

What is going on? Join in and explore what happens in this delightful workshop adventure by the sea.

Combining drama, story, play and props, this interactive drama workshop invites little ones and their grown-ups to enjoy imagining together. So if you’re a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunty, godparent or carer, come along with a 2 to 4 year old and join in the fun.

Dates & Times

For further information and ticket bookings go toark.ie/events/view/seedlings-early-years-workshops-aug19

!!!! Creative Music & Drama in the Classroom at The Ark

The Ark 

Dates: 19 – 23 August 2019

Back for a fourth summer, The Ark are excited to present this really popular engaging arts summer course focusing on the two curriculum areas of Drama and Music.

This is a five day Department of Education and Skills and EPV-approved summer course for teachers.

Working with two outstanding creative practitioners, you will enjoy a week of experiential learning and development. Your confidence and skills in both music and drama will increase through highly participative and inspiring course content.

Using themes drawn from SPHE, English and other subjects, participants will explore a variety of imaginative approaches to integrated curriculum delivery. Teachers of all levels of experience will be able to fully engage in this rich week of professional development.

Course content and highlights will include:

 

Artists – Anita Mahon (music) & Joanna Parkes (theatre)

Dates & Times – Five Day Course
19-23 Aug 2019, 10am to 3pm each day

Presented by The Ark & Dublin West Education Centre

For further information and ticket booking go to https://ark.ie/events/view/teachers-5-day-course-creative-music-drama-1

 

 

!!!! Applications are now open for the – Baboró GROW 2019 Pathways to Production Programme

Baboró International Arts Festival for Children

Deadline: 4pm, Friday 12th July 2019  

Pathways to Production is an artist support programme led by Baboró, who has partnered with Druid, the Mick Lally Theatre, Branar Téatar do Phaistí, The Irish Theatre Institute (ITI) and Galway Theatre Festival, to support artists and young companies to develop their ideas with a view to presenting a full performance piece.

What GROW ‘Pathways to Production’ offers:

 

The exciting scheme involves workshops, sharing of works-in-progress with peers, as well as support in developing funding strategies. Baboró, Druid and the Mick Lally Theatre, Branar Téatar de Phaistí, The Irish Theatre Institute and Galway Theatre Festival will make our collective organisational experience and resources available to participants.

The Pathways to Production programme runs from October 2019 to October 2020.

Who is it for?

 

Deadline for submissions is 4pm, Friday 12th July 2019. 

For further information including the application guidelines and submission from go to www.baboro.ie/about/work/grow/pathways

 

 

!!!! Drama Tools for the Classroom – CPD for Primary School Teachers with Baboró

Baboró 

Dates: 1st – 5th July 2019

Baboró releases final spaces for ‘Drama Tools for the Classroom’, an EPV approved Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course for educators, therapists and artists.

A limited number of tickets are now available for Baboró’s annual Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course, Drama Tools for the Classroom, taking place from Monday 1st to Friday 5th of July at the O’Donoghue Centre, NUI Galway.

Develop practical, fun and engaging teaching methodologies in this EPV approved CPD course; delivered by teacher, dramatist and facilitator Irene O’Meara, B.Ed., LLSM, MA Drama & Theatre Studies.

The week-long course of workshops is designed for primary school teachers but is also open to educators, therapists, artists and facilitators. It is for those who value the art of communication, empathy and co-operation, and wish to use drama and the creative arts to effectively engage children in teaching a range of topics.

The course will cover all the required teaching methodologies such as Active Learning; Problem Solving; Collaborative Learning and Discussion and Use of Environment, while also developing skills that can be used in a multitude of settings with many subject areas. Participants will then be guided through the processes of using drama as a methodology that supports the Using, Understanding and Communicating as per the New Primary Language curriculum.

Booking and Event Details:
Course cost of €70.00.
Taking place from 9.30am – 2.00pm Monday 1st to Friday 5th of July at the O’Donoghue Centre, NUI Galway.

Tickets available on Eventbrite at bit.ly/2JbUBG0. Places are limited and advanced booking is required.

For further information go to www.baboro.ie/news-events/cpd-2019

This is an EPV Department of Skills and Education approved course and participants will receive a certificate of completion. For further information contact admin@baboro.ie or call 091 562 667

!!!! Conference on Drama & Theatre in Education at Trinity College

The Arts Education Research Group (TCD) and the Association for Drama in Education in Ireland (ADEI)

Dates: 9th & 10th March 2019

The School of Education in Trinity College will host an exciting international conference on drama and theatre in education on March 9th and 10th.
This is a timely event in today’s world, and explores the theme of the social and political in children’s and young people’s drama and theatre. This conference will be of interest to teachers, artists and anyone working at the cutting edge of drama, theatre, education, creative and cultural studies, arts education, sociology and social policy, political science and education, psychology, and related fields.

The conference features an impressive line-up of speakers who will explore the conference theme with reference to their own practices in different parts of the world. With subsidised rates available for attendees (€105,) and a bursary scheme available for full time students (€38 for the 2 day event).

For further information and booking go to www.tcd.ie/Education/Drama-Davis-Conference19/

!!!! Barnstorm Theatre presents ‘Boy with a Suitcase’ – a new production for primary school students

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Dates: 6th – 9th of March 2019

School Shows: 10am & 12.30

Barnstorm Theatre Company is delighted to present its new production of ‘Boy with a Suitcase’ by Mike Kenny. Directed by Philip Hardy, the play deals with migration, focusing on the stories and cultural touchstones that sustain a young boy on his perilous journey to Ireland. The play has been written specifically for children aged 8-12 but is an interesting and thought-provoking piece that can be explored by all.

Like his hero, Sinbad the Sailor, who undertook many perilous voyages in search of his fortune, Naz must travel half-way around the world to reach the safety of his brother in Dublin. Naz teams up with Krysia, a young girl in similar circumstances, who helps him dodge soldiers and find safe passage over mountains, across seas and through the mire of a city slum.

A gripping tale of adventure and stories, Naz’s journey throws a spotlight on the real dangers faced by children in other parts of the world, and the lengths to which they must go to reach safety in the relative security of a country like Ireland.

A resource pack, developed in association with Ann Murtagh (Teacher/Tutor at Kilkenny Education Centre) , will be provided to participating teachers. The pack with provide a focus for exploration of the themes that arise throughout the play.

For more information or to obtain a resource pack, please contact Barnstorm Theatre at admin@barnstorm.ie, or call us on 056 7751266

Performances of Boy With a Suitcase will take place at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny from the 6th-9th of March.

Tickets are available online at watergatetheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873602052

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Naomi Cahill Creative Associate for Creative Schools & Director of Bespoke Productions – Blog No.3

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

 

Creative Schools: New Beginnings in 2019 – Blog 3

Step Two: ‘Develop’

2019 has been great so far with the continuation of the Creative Schools Project. Having completed the ‘Understand’ stage, I have moved onto the next stage: ‘Develop’. Using the planning framework, I work with schools to firstly develop a ‘Creative Schools Vision’. This is a long-term vision for placing the arts and creativity at the heart of the school. It should be aspirational but realistic. It is used to enable the school to develop aims, success criteria and activity plans. The aims state what the school ideally hopes to achieve by introducing the plan. As I previously mentioned, the voice of young people is of key importance to all stages of the project. The school must outline the role of young people in the development of their plan. The success criteria must then be detailed which states how the school will know if their plan is having the desired impact on the school and wider community.

The next step I take is to work with schools to develop a ‘Creative School Plan’. This plan is used to support the ‘Creative Schools Vision’. It includes key areas for development which should be implemented over a number of years. It is used to support the following areas for development: children and young people, teaching and learning, leadership and management & school environment, opportunities and networks. The work completed to date in the ‘Understand’ stage is used directly to the benefit of the ‘Develop’ stage.

I also work with the school to develop an activity plan. The school uses this plan to detail the exact arts and creative activities they wish to undertake this year. A series of questions must be answered which ensure schools think thoroughly about the long-term benefit of chosen activities for example: Which areas of the curriculum are involved (including the potential for collaboration/integration across subject areas)?

Linking Schools to Opportunities:
Every school is unique and they each have particular strengths and arts/creative areas which they wish to develop. I am now working to link schools to relevant opportunities according to their plans. Some activities which have come up so far include: staff undergoing CPD training in drama education to learn how process drama can be used in a cross-curricular fashion as a means to enhance learning in a practical, engaging way. Another includes: students working with a street artist over a series of weeks to create their own work. There has been a fantastic response from arts/creative organisations and artists to the project. Some of the links I have made so far include: artists (in a variety of disciplines), Arts Officers, Creative Ireland Officers, Education Officers (from arts organisations), art galleries, university drama department, music organisations and dance companies.

Student Advisory Group:
To ensure students play an active role in the implementation and evaluation of the project I work with schools to set up a ‘Student Advisory Group’. This is a cross-section of students from different class groups that I engage with on a regular basis. These students give us a valuable insight into their own artistic & creative interests. Their views must be taken on board in the development, implementation and evaluation of the project.

Arts in Education:
This project is raising the level of importance of the arts and creativity in education across the board. It is not only creating opportunities for schools but also for artists that are highly skilled and trained with vast experience. Personally speaking, my career to date has revolved around creativity. On a regular basis, I hear about the benefits creativity has to mental health and well-being. Exposure to the arts and creativity is something which needs to be made possible through the education system in order to ensure equal opportunity to young people. In a world that is constantly changing, creativity is needed more than ever.

!!!! Early Years workshop at The Ark: The King Who Finds Feelings Confusing

The Ark 

Date: 19 January 2019

Meet the King who has banned feelings and colours from his Kingdom in this fun and interactive workshop for 3 to 5 years olds and their grown-ups at The Ark, Dublin. In partnership with First Fortnight.

The King finds feelings confusing so he says no one can laugh or cry when he’s around. Feelings of happiness, sadness or anger are not allowed. He wants everything and everyone to be grey and gloomy all day long – so he’s banished colours as well.

Be part of a group of brave, young adventurers who decide this can’t be right, so go an a mission to collect the missing feelings and colours and bring them back to the Kingdom.

About Joanna Parkes

Joanna Parkes is a freelance drama facilitator and theatre practitioner working in Primary Schools and Teacher Training Colleges. As well as devising and delivering drama programmes in schools she has also written a number of teacher’s resources packs and publications. She has been running workshops and teacher-training at The Ark since 2013.

About First Fortnight

First Fortnight is a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action. The First Fortnight Festival creates a consistent space in the cultural calendar where citizens can be inspired through arts events and experiences to talk about mental health issues in a non-scripted manner. This year they are delighted to host the European Mental Health Arts & Culture Festival in Ireland. Find out more at www.firstfortnight.ie. 

For more information and bookings go to ark.ie/events/view/the-king-who-finds-feelings-confusing.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Naomi Cahill Creative Associate for Creative Schools & Director of Bespoke Productions – Blog No. 2

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

Creative Schools: The Journey Continues – Blog 2

Creative Schools Coordinators:

In every Creative School there is a Creative Schools Coordinator. The coordinator is my first point of contact with each school and I liaise with them in regular meetings. I have now met all coordinators in my corresponding schools. In some schools the coordinator is a member of the teaching staff and in others it is the school principal. There has been a great response and enthusiasm from all coordinators and schools as a whole to the project and a strong belief in the positive impact it can make on putting the arts and creativity at the heart of young people’s lives.

Completion of Step One: ‘Understand’:

I am continuing to work with schools on the process of gaining an understanding of the school’sengagement with the arts and creativity. Having completed workshops and meetings with relevant parties and staff, I am liaising with Creative Schools Coordinators to complete the documentation for this section. All schools are provided with a document called ‘Understand’ complete with four sections: 1) Children & Young People 2) Teaching & Learning 3) Leadership & Management & 4) School Environment, Opportunities & Networks. In each section there are a series of statements which are rated on a scale of: 0-5 (0 means: the statement is ‘Not at all true’, 5 means: the statement is ‘Very true’). For example: “Pupils/students are involved in decision-making on existing arts opportunities and are able to shape their learning experiences in school” (Section 1: Children & Young People). Using age specific surveys designed for appropriate parties and information gathered from staff discussions I work with coordinators to rate all statements (using an average from the individual ratings). The following individuals are consulted with in this process: the school principal, deputy principal, coordinator, teachers (including resource staff & S.N.A.s), staff with a responsibility for the arts, parent’s association and board of management. These findings will support the development of the Creative Schools Plan which will be carried out in step two: ‘Develop’.

What is Creativity?

As I mentioned in my previous post the voice, opinions and views of young people is of key importance to this pilot project. Through ‘The Voice of Young People’ workshop I collected lots of useful information which I use as data for the ‘Children & Young People’ section and to influence my work with schools going forward. I go through this information, document and analyse it. I found it inspiring to read young people’s understanding of the word ‘Creativity’. From my experience, all young people have their own individual understanding of creativity. It is very interesting and uplifting read their definitions:

“I think it is about showing who you are and what you like to do”. “I think if you’re creative, you have a big imagination”.

“It’s about expressing yourself”.

“Imagination”.

“Like your dreams are what you feel & draw & do”.

“Do what your mind tells you”.

“Creativity is free! When you break rules, you are being creative”.

I believe it is important to let young people come up with their own understanding of creativity rather than provide them with a set definition. This is similar to the constructivist approach I often use in my own teaching. Using constructivism, students are actively involved in constructing their own meaning and knowledge as opposed to passively receiving information.

Through the workshop, I also gathered information on student’s individual artistic and creative interests. Students listed: the creative activities they are currently engaged with inside and outside school. They also listed the creative things they would like to do if they had the opportunity. It is very interesting to hear their responses. The answers vary greatly from school to school. The school’slocation and the cultural and artistic opportunities in close proximity of the school also have an influence on the responses given.

Meeting Teachers:

I have commenced meeting all teaching staff in my corresponding schools. It is very important that staff are fully aware of what is involved in Creative Schools and are able to contribute their ideas in order for the project to be of benefit. The staff are of key importance to ensure the sustainability and longevity of the project. In these meetings I initially provide staff with a thorough understanding of Creative Schools. I then explain the different components of the programme including the first step: ‘Understand’. I design posters listing the following questions as headings:

What are the creative strengths of the school?
What creative areas can the school develop?
What creative activities can the school implement to develop these areas?

I then facilitate a discussion with staff where they are given the opportunity to provide answers/ideas to questions listed. We pass around the posters and everyone makes a written note of their contributions. I also ask staff about their own individual areas of expertise for example: Is there a staff member that is a particularly skilled/trained musician/dancer? etc. This is very beneficial for all staff to be aware of going forward. I have found that a lot of schools are interested in working collaboratively together to share their creative skills and knowledge.

New Beginnings in 2019:

I am looking forward to a new year of opportunities for Creative Schools and excited to move on to the next stage of the project.

!!!! Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) Project – Donal of Dunamase and the mighty boar of Ballyfriar

Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) is a unique Department of Education and Skills initiative for supporting and enhancing arts in education in primary schools. The CPD Summer Course and residency programme is now mainstreamed and consists of free DES approved (EPV days) Summer Courses operating in each of the 21 full-time Education Centres in Ireland. The initiative includes funded Artist in Residency opportunities in which participating teachers and artists work together in collaboration in the School during the following academic year.

For more information click here.

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

There were three central elements in our partnership; a teacher who is also an archaeologist, a drama facilitator who loves to weave a dramatic tale and a class of lively, enthusiastic 3rd class pupils. Joanna is a vastly experienced drama facilitator who has been working in the field of Educational Drama for many years and Jenny is a dynamic teacher with a previous career in archaeology and a history of engagement in theatre and youth drama.

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

When I’m planning my drama sessions I focus on creating a story that evolves over a number of weeks through a drama process. Developing a narrative arch in this way means you can respond to the elements of the story that are of particular interest to the children involved and can reflect the unique contributions of all those involved so this project was an ideal opportunity to merge Jenny’s and my skills and experiences in a collaborative venture.

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

I have a deep love of history, archaeology and the arts, therefore we decided to locate the story for the drama at the local Dunamase monument. This commanding ruin provided an ideal vehicle to weave a magical story and to entwine my professional experience with a place of local interest and beauty. The result was 8 weeks of adventure, dramatic recounting and thoughtful reflection through the story which we called Donal of Dunamase and the mighty boar of Ballyfriar.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

This particular dramatic narrative developed over 8 weeks when I visited the school and working with Jenny and her 3rd class for 90 minutes every week. The story began in the present when the class went into the role as archaeologists on a dig at the historic site of Dunamase.  Working with care and attention on this imaginary dig the girls discovered ancient artefacts dating from the 800’s. Over the next two weeks in girls made the objects they had imagined finding on the dig, these objects were then incorporated into the drama narrative.

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

My class went on an incredible journey back in time to 814CE and the fort at Dún Masc through the medium of drama. Over 8 weeks we worked together as children, artist and teacher to imagine this community of people, their everyday lives and preoccupations. The children were divided into six different family groupings: the Potters, Weavers, Druids, Metal Workers, Farmers and the Clan Leader’s Family. In history the girls developed their background knowledge of each families’ skill-set in the daily life of the dún so that in drama, using small group and whole class improvisation, in role negotiation, discussion,  teacher in role and mime the children could explore and develop their roles, giving depth to the drama personae.

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

Through immersion in the rich narrative the children came to know the characters in detail. They were introduced to their Clan Leader, Donal, his unconventional and inspirational daughter Alfric, and her cousins Tadhg and Tuan. They developed an understanding of these key characters and the significant events in their lives. Jenny used her dramatic skills to great advantage when in role as the Seanachaí, captivating her class with a dynamic and hair-raising account of the great battle between the Clan Leader and the wild boar.

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

I was delighted with how the class became absorbed in the story through the characters Joanna created and they developed. The class entered entirely into role as members of the Clan, resolving dilemmas, engaging in debate and finding resolution along the way. I noted that they particularly enjoyed playing Alfric, the feisty daughter. When we reflected on the process afterwards, the girls noted that she became a positive role model for them as they enjoyed her energy and physicality. They noted how much more they enjoyed learning about history through immersion in a story by becoming people in the past and finding out what everyday life was like.

They got a true insight into what has changed, but also how people and their preoccupations remain similar in 2014 in 814. When I gathered the children together again in 2018, as they prepared to graduate primary school, the girls remarked on how their drama had helped them to build self-confidence, develop their understanding of each other and work as part of a group. Their memory of this work was bright, nuanced and life enriching.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Successes

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

The reason I believe this partnership was so successful was that it was a shared, collaborative experience. Every element of the process, from the initial imagining of the story to the weekly planning and delivery was developed in partnership so we had a unified vision and understanding. Since we were equally involved and connected, when the children were particularly engaged with the reality of their drama or when unexpected “moments of magic” occurred, there was someone to observe, share and reflect with.

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

I loved having a partner in the room. Joanna’s deep well of drama knowledge, creativity and skill encouraged me to develop and share my own creative skills through my work with children. This project was a professional turning point in my career approach as it encouraged me to look outward from the classroom. My partnership and friendship with Joanna was crucial to this change of perspective. I actively enjoy and seek engagement with professionals outside of teaching to help enrich the educational experience of my pupils and my own professional skills.

Challenges

The most significant challenge in this project lay in documenting learning, as process drama focuses on engagement. Creativity is experienced, felt and communicated in the dramatic moment. The work of artist and teacher focuses on creating the opportunity for dynamic “moments of magic” for the children. There is then a separate and challenging task of evidencing this ephemeral form of learning.

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

Throughout my work I have found process drama presents unique challenges in terms of documentation. Learning is focused on the emotion and engagement of the moment rather than in presentation, performance and product. Photography and recording rarely capture or communicate powerful moments of drama, story and learning that emerge, such as Donal’s funeral or the election of Alfric.

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

Within the project we were deeply conscious of the “invisibility” of our creativity and learning to all except those directly involved. This generated unique pressure to create tangible, concrete evidence of our work. I consciously planned lessons that developed and produced pieces of writing, construction, photography and visual art we not only extended, but evidenced our learning. The pressure to record tended to pull the artist and teacher out of the dramatic moment and into the role of an outsider recorder.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

Working through Joanna’s narrative, I developed a programme of broad and deep curricular integration for the class. This approach, which encompassed English literacy and writing, history, storytelling, visual arts, illustration and music, was significant in enabling the children to engage knowledgably and immersively in learning. As they spent time outside drama thinking about the story (making their artefacts in Art, writing the story in English, completing their Drama Journals) they became active agents in the story. This resonated more deeply with them than other classes who limit drama reflection to the confines of a weekly drama lesson.

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

As a free-lance artists I can often feel isolated in my work, so I really appreciated the opportunity to plan and deliver the drama workshops with someone else who was equally committed to the process. Also, compared to other drama projects, it was very striking to witness how much more embedded and committed the children were to the drama process because of the cross curricular nature of the project and how it resonated throughout the school week. Due to the extra time and energy Jenny dedicated to this process, outside our drama sessions, the pupils had the opportunity to genuinely connect to the fictional community we created and to actively engaged with the characters, with their dilemmas and life-choices.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Jennifer Buggie, Teacher

Since the 2014 initiative, Joanna and I have engaged in subsequent projects with children and developed a workshop for educators on 1916. I employ the skills I developed in partnership with Joanna throughout my professional work, with both colleagues and children. This project has made me more cognisant of the arts and creativity in our schools. I believe passionately that all children deserve life enriching arts experiences. Through looking outward, reflecting inward, communicating and connecting, our primary schools can be centres of whole-child and teacher learning where physical, emotional and spiritual needs are expressed, acknowledged and fulfilled.

Joanna Parkes, Drama Practitioner 

Working with Jenny during this partnership gave me an ideal opportunity to appreciate the full potential of working in partnership with a committed and enthusiastic teacher. Working in this way does take time and extra resources but as a result of this partnership, I realised more than ever that it is worth cultivating a strong collaborative relationship with the teachers in such projects. It is very evident that when this committed collaboration happens, the engagement and connection is deeper and more meaningful for the pupils.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Naomi Cahill Creative Associate for Creative Schools & Director of Bespoke Productions – Blog No. 1

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

Creative Schools: The Start of the Journey – Blog 1

Creative Schools is a pilot initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme. It is led by the Arts Council in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The aim of this initiative is to put the arts and creativity at the heart of children and young people’s lives. My job as a Creative Associate is to enhance and shape the place of creativity in schools. I work to inspire, energise and drive schools forward in developing creative opportunities in the school and wider community. I enable schools to understand, develop and celebrate young people’s engagement with the arts and creativity.

Getting to Know Schools:

I work with a number of schools throughout Cork and Kerry. At the beginning of November, I began engaging in meetings with the Creative Schools Coordinators from my designated schools. There are a series of objectives I aim to achieve in these meetings. Initially, we go through the Creative Schools Planning Framework. We then begin to discuss the first step of the programme: ‘Understand’. This allows schools to understand their current engagement with the arts and creativity. It also enables them to assess the creative interests of students and the resources which are available in the school and wider community. We talk about the school’s current involvement with the arts and artistic areas which they wish to enhance. Through this meeting I develop a better, more thorough understanding of the school as a whole.

In each school I run a workshop with students on ‘The Voice of Young People’. All creative associates were lucky enough to have the opportunity to undergo training in Hub na nÓg. This is a national centre of excellence which supports us to give children and young people a voice in decision making. I use the Lundy Model to ensure the voice of young people is a priority. This model indicates that young people should be provided with a safe space and appropriate information to enable them to express their views. It is also important to make sure that their views are communicated with someone with the responsibility to listen, taken seriously and acted on where appropriate.

Workshop:

Giving young people the opportunity to actively participate in a workshop is a great way to hear their views. Let me give you a brief insight into ‘The Voice of Young People’ workshop. I use two different methods in this workshop called: ‘Open Space Method’ and ‘World Café Method’. The‘Open Space Method’ involves me asking student three questions as follows: 1) What is creativity? 2) What kind of creative things do you currently do? 3) What kind of creative things would you like to do? Students write their answers on post-its and stick them on three different parts of the wall. Students then divide these answers into sections according to what kind of arts activity they are e.g. music, dance etc. This leads to a very effective visual portrayal of student’s artistic interests. We then move on to ‘World Café Method’. Students are provided with a poster on which they are asked a series of questions containing blanks: 1) What is …..? 2) What kind of …… activities have you done/do you do? 3) What kind of ….. activities would you like to do? The young people use the arts activities they came up with in the previous exercise to fill in the blanks in these questions. Students then design the poster using a series of words and illustrations in order to answer these questions. I like using these methods as students take ownership of the kinds of arts activities they would like to explore and they are decision makers from the offset. I also give students surveys which are specific to their age and ability which allow them to express their opinion on their experience of the arts. These are important to give me concrete data to work from. If you want to know what young people want the best thing is to ask them. This workshop enables me to do that.

Further action I have taken in my role as Creative Associate is to create links between the school and local arts opportunities. So far, I have met people such as the local arts officer, programme manager from arts centre etc. These links are important to make to ensure the sustainability of the Creative Schools Programme.

The next step for my work as Creative Associate is to develop a Creative Schools Plan schools. Finally, schools will celebrate their experience with the arts and creativity by sharing their experience as a school, community and beyond.

Onwards & Upwards:

I firmly believe that providing young people with improved, sustainable arts opportunities will benefit them now and into the future. I am delighted to be working as part of this exciting new programme which allows us to make a positive difference in the lives of young people through the arts & creativity.

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Róisin O’Donnell Young Playwrights’ Programme – Blog No. 4

Róisin O’Donnell is a 19 year old leaving cert survivor and writer. She was a participant in the first ever Young Playwrights’ Programme. Her play ‘Bernie’ premiered through the programme. She lives in Cork, where she spends her time writing fiction and plays, obsessing over books and her dog.

College has changed the way I write… – Blog 2

I write this blog like a stereotypical college student, with a deadline looming, on a tiny computer, in a big academic library. Eight months ago I was accepted into the Young Playwrights Programme and four months ago my first play took to life on the stage. Do I miss the programme? Short answer: Yeah.

In college, I am constantly reminded of the time I spent at Graffiti – not to jinx it. Just like then I am surrounded by people I like with my trusty keyboard only a stretch of my arm away.

A lot of things that I did not expect happened when I became a first-year student at UCC.

I can stare/glare/laugh at the ‘world’ now. And feel comfortable enough in it. John and Katie always encouraged us to say what we are- writers. An obvious title. But up until this new chapter of my life, I was waiting. Waiting for proof that I could post on Instagram and make everyone stop scrolling for a second and think- wow, Róisin… she’s not average… every negative thought gone…

I am not going to type bullshit if my time with the journalism society has taught me anything. The doors did not open present my ambitions to me.

My personal life turned into the Titanic on speed when the Leaving Cert came around. And the neat blue lines of the exam booklets had no sympathy marks to give. I didn’t get the results I wanted. The State Examinations Commission said you’re not good enough, the days, the months, the YEAR you spent was as worthless as the paper the results are printed on.

I got my dream course because I got lucky. Any other year… let’s not think of that.

My Leaving Cert is worthless now. Lecturers don’t mention it and us students squint and cringe about it, rarely.

I have learned to stop wishing and writing sloppy coming of age stories that made me sick with boredom. I write about my life now and the world around me. I send my drafts to the UCC Express or the Motley to connect with other students. So far I haven’t got a no, just edits. and ‘you can do it.’ And I am happy. The tiny achievements college has offered me have given me more than six years and two exams ever could.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Jessica O’Brien, Young Playwright Programme – Blog No. 3

Jessica O’ Brien is a 16 year old student and aspiring writer from Cork. As part of the Young Playwrights’ Programme with Graffiti Theatre, she along with eight other young people wrote and staged plays in The Everyman as part of the Midsummer Festival in 2018. She is currently writing her first book and hopes to have a career in writing novels or journalism.

Why I Write – Blog 3

I write for a reason, though I know that most of it is just instinct. Since I was a kid I would fill these hardbacks with creative writing and acrostic poems and I would fill my suitcases with my favourite books for the summer holidays – to the despair of my Mom. (my case was always overweight)  I distinctly remember the first Young Adult novel I read, ‘The Fault In Our Stars’, and immediately being hooked. I couldn’t get enough of these characters and worlds that were realistic, these people I wanted to be friends with. Within two years my room was unrecognisable, with massive shelves to facilitate my little library.

When I started studying for the Junior Cert I was taught to read and look at other forms of art critically. I am very grateful for the English class, classmates and teacher I had. Instead of just spewing out whatever Ithought was good, I took criticism from others. I listened to the other girls and realised I could be as good at writing answers as them if I tried. It was then I realised just how much I loved writing. I loved being able to start writing and forgetting about where I was and having that right word come to me. Suddenly I was in love with cinematography, the meaning behind words and I began to read and write differently. Now I couldn’t just read any YA book, I would scan the fonts and blurbs and as I read, I would add things to my mental list of what I liked or disliked. My journals became a source of comfort, and they still remain so.

But as I have gotten older and learned more about myself and the world, I realised that I had never truly been able to find myself in a book. There is such a lack of diversity, there are so many cliche stories with happy endings and straight romances and I got tired. One day I was walking home from the bookshop with my Dad and he asked me what the books I had bought were about. I explained, and I guess he was surprised because the books had strong themes in them. ‘I thought you read to escape reality,’ he said, with his bag of crime novels. ‘I guess I write to help change my reality,’ I thought.

I write because I can’t not write. I write to tell people what I can’t say or to get my feelings out on paper. My journals are almost like scrapbooks in a way. But most importantly, I now write because I have stories I need to tell. There are people in the LGBT community like me who’s story never gets told. People of colour. Different religion. Disabilities. Those love stories that don’t work out and real life teenager scenarios. We are all hot messes. It is so much nicer to read a book and relate to it rather than read a book and strive to be like it.

I write for myself, and everyone who ever deserved a voice. One day, maybe I’ll be scrutinising the YA section and I’ll see my own name there. That’s the dream I have for this reality.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Róisin O’Donnell Young Playwright Programme – Blog No. 2

Róisin O’Donnell is a 19 year old leaving cert survivor and writer. She was a participant in the first ever Young Playwrights Programme. Her play ‘Bernie’ premiered through the programme. She lives in Cork, where she spends her time writing fiction and plays, obsessing over books and her dog.

Youth, the Internet and Fiction – Blog 2

There are millions of stories on Fanfiction.net. 791K of those stories alone are listed under Harry Potter.

Meaning: Thousands of mostly young people around the world using their keyboards to enter the writing world. All because of words someone else has written.

I think that sounds amazing.

But attach the label ‘fanfiction’ and people start cringing.
Why?

Using the incorrect form of ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ shouldn’t automatically make you a joke. Writing isn’t easy. And I can relate.

On my way to becoming a writer, I went through the terrible years of primary and early secondary school feeling average. I had nothing in front of me, so much energy and nowhere to put it.

According to school there are only three categories to slot into. Athletic, brainy or social butterfly and if you aren’t a superstar at one of those things – tough shit. To the end of the pecking order, please!

One day, out of boredom, I typed 500 words on my phone and called it a first (bad) chapter. I wanted nineteen years later to be more than a just happy ending at a train station. Those 500 words turned into 230,000 words and counting. And that, I can safely say, drew me to more books, made me see things from multiple perspectives and start to question things. English class didn’t improve my editing skills, get me into the Young Playwrights Programme or give me the opportunity to write this blog. Writing something I loved did.

Yes, there are the scandalous stories but isn’t there Mills and Boons lining the shelves of every library? You just need to know where to look. The most followed stories on the site are under the genre adventure and are longer than any of the books I have on my shelf.

The readers and writers work together. They learn to improve their writing technique by editing and even beta-ing. People constructively break down each other’s work and work together to build each other up. Even the reviews are kind and supportive for the most part.

You wouldn’t believe the number of teen writers testing the waters and spreading their wings. They are trying to teach themselves. They want guidance and acknowledgement.

If you type fanfiction into any search engine late-night talk show segments will show up trying to get a cheap laugh and articles trying to teach parents what it is like in the depths of the community will appear. No one on the sites cares. That’s the outside world. The writers and readers do what they do with confidence. Confidence that would be benefitable to schools and societies in this cynical world.

And I’ll end this first blog with the lessons online writing has taught me. Lessons I should’ve learned in school:

Ability, even a magical ability like creativity takes works.
And
The only way to really succeed is to push forwards through the shitty phase every writer goes through and post that next update.

!!!! ‘Bringing STEM alive in the classroom through Drama’ at The Ark

The Ark

Dates: 20 Aug – 24 Aug 2018

Department of Education and Skills and EPV-approved summer course for teachers.

The Ark, Dublin are excited to present a new five day arts-science summer course led by scientist and theatre-maker Dr. Niamh Shaw, aimed at primary teachers of 1st-3rd classes.

Discover STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) anew through a range of enjoyable and accessible creative drama processes designed to lift these subjects off the page and bring them to life for both teachers and students.

The course is created and led by the inspiring Dr Niamh Shaw – an engineer, former science academic and a theatre maker as well as one of Ireland’s leading science communicators and STEAM specialists. Niamh’s scientific knowledge and warm engaging style will help you in finding exciting new ways of communicating science themes to your students.

This practical hands-on course will improve your confidence in teaching STEM subjects as well as Drama and how to meaningfully link and integrate these in the classroom. A range of relevant STEM curricular areas will be explored through Drama including Mathematics, Geography, and of course Science.

The course is aimed at teachers of all levels of STEM and drama knowledge and experience.The course content and aims include:

For more information and booking go to ark.ie/events/view/5-day-teachers-course-bringing-stem-alive-in-the-classroom-through-drama

!!!! Guest Blogger: Jessica O’Brien, Young Playwright Programme – Blog No. 1

Jessica O’ Brien is a 16 year old student and aspiring writer from Cork. As part of the Young Playwrights’ Programme with Graffiti Theatre, she along with eight other young people wrote and staged plays in The Everyman as part of the Midsummer Festival in 2018. She is currently writing her first book and hopes to have a career in writing novels or journalism.

Let Creativity STEM – Blog 1

All my life I have been aware of what subjects defined me as ‘intelligent’ and what made me ‘subordinate’ by the education system.

Since I made the jump from primary school to secondary school I have become increasingly aware of the differences between myself and the students who excel in STEM subjects. It’s pretty clear what careers are portrayed as sensible, high intelligence careers, as careers in the arts are simply never discussed. STEM subjects include science, technology, engineering and mathematics- and recently I have noticed what a huge effort is being made to promote careers in these subjects, especially as my school is all female. We have been visited by countless representatives encouraging us to begin a career in a STEM subject and we have had several different weeks in school dedicated to science and maths. I believe this is hugely positive and will inspire us girls with the message that we too can hold positions of power in careers dedicated to these subjects- but I do think that those who are genuinely not interested in these subjects are being tossed aside.

Despite science being a choice in my school, I am constantly made to feel like it was never my choice to drop it. There have never been weeks dedicated to the students that excel in the arts. Yes, there are classes available, but they were hard fought for and aren’t treated as important by those who don’t participate in them. I spoke to my art teacher at an open night once, and she told me that parents would approach her, and ask her if ‘art was really that hard.’  My music teachers have only recently been given time slots for practicing for our carol service that is one of the biggest events on our school calendar. This would never happen with any other subjects. I was at a meeting being on our school’s magazine team. Our teacher didn’t show up to the meeting, which was a regular occurrence, but we decided we were going to power through on our own and show the school what we could do. But that couldn’t happen now. We were told the school didn’t have the funding for the 6 extra pages we wanted to produce. Yet our school bank gets hundreds to rent in famous guests to hype up their work. Our school has an annual run to pay for a new running track for sport. Our science labs are always stocked for experiments and our art classrooms are used as supply cabinets whenever people need to make posters. If you want to work hard in schools in a subject to do with the arts, you are pretty much on your own. I feel that the way people who work hard in these creative subjects are treated is really offensive. Music, art, and all other creatively based subjects are also fulfilling and big earning careers. The world needs them just as much as it needs scientists and engineers. Would you turn around to a world famous actor and chastise them for not becoming a mathematician?

Jessica was a participant in the Young Playwrights’ Programme with Graffiti Theatre which was a recipient of the Arts in Education Portal 2018 Documentation Award.

 

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Dan Colley, Dramaturg & Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre – Blog No.4

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 4: Rights Museum

The Rights Museum is a participatory art project that attempts to allow our objects to tell our story through the medium of a museum. Its subject is the lives of students in Larkin Community College and how the rights enshrined in the UNCRC intersect with their actual lived experience. Or don’t.

In my last blog post I detailed how I worked with a group of first year CSPE students and asked them to invest in the stories behind their rights – and learn about their rights in reality.

In our next session, I presented a simple everyday object to the group – I used a shoe. I like to gather the participants around the object in a circle. First I asked them to make objective observations: what can we say for certain just by looking at it? For example; “it’s a shoe”, “it’s got white laces”, “it’s black” “there’s dirt on it”. I kept this going, correcting them if they brought in any subjective observations (eg. “They look like they’ve been used to go running” or “They’re ugly”). Keep it to the facts that you can tell just by looking.

Once I’d just about exhausted this, I asked them to make subjective observations. I prompted them; who might have owned these shoes? What might they have used them for? Did they value them? And with each answer, I asked them to support their claim with evidence that they can see.

Then I placed the shoes on a raised platform (I used a bin but asked them to imagine it was a plinth in a museum!) and I asked them if that changed the way they saw it? Did it make it seem more important? Why? What could possibly be so important about this pair of shoes that they would be in a museum? I asked them to imagine that there was a label on it that said “Plastic and canvas shoes. Shoe size 5. 2017. Syria.” and then I asked them what they thought of them then. What would they think about the story of these shoes and who wore them?

I put the shoes away and then put another object on our “plinth”. This one was of personal importance to me – a pair of cufflinks displayed in their box. But I didn’t tell the participants anything about them yet. Again I asked them to make objective observations, then subjective observations (“is this important to the owner? Why do you say that?” “Are these expensive? Why do you say that?” “When were they made?” etc.) I then told them what they were, the story behind them and why they were important to me. Then I asked them all to bring in an object that was important to them, look at their UNHCR which we’d been working on, and relate what was important to them about the object back to an article in the charter.

Now we were facing the task of putting together an exhibition in the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks. Our questions for this were; how do we represent the work and the participants’ learning in that space for members of the public to see? And how do we invite the public to actively engage with the ideas within it?

We decided to keep it simple; we photographed all the participants with their chosen object and asked them why it was important to them and what right(s) it related to. We then got Sarah Moloney, a graphic designer (although this could have been done by me or someone who had time to learn Photoshop) to lay out the photographs with quotations from the students laid over the image, along with the text from the UNCRC that were relevant. Each of these was printed on A2 card and was displayed on the walls of the exhibitions space. This allowed all of the students who had taken part to be represented in the exhibition.

There were three large windows in the space; the middle one we printed the text of the UNCRC and on the two sides windows we wrote “What would be in your Rights Museum?” and invited the public to write on the windows in liquid chalk pens which we provided. This allowed the public to actively engage in the ideas that the Right Museum was provoking.

The Museum kindly lent us a display case, for which I chose eight objects that were representative of the whole group, to be displayed for the duration of the exhibition. This was the centre piece of the Rights Museum and showed the seemingly everyday objects, contributed by young citizens, enjoying the prestige and equal importance that is given to the treasured objects in the National Museum’s collection.

The power of this statement seemed to resonate with those we told about it and we had an enthusiastic response to our invitation to the opening of the exhibition. The opening was attended by the Minister for Education Richard Bruton, Director of the National Museum Raghnall Ó Floinn and the Ombudsman for Children Niall Muldoon, as well as national media including RTE news and the Irish Times. Two students from Larkin Community College, Ciarán Hayden and Isabella Anthony, spoke about their experience of the process at the podium, alongside the Minister, Director, and Ombudsman for Children. A number of students led guided interpretive tours of the exhibition for our guests.

I’d count among the Rights Museums successes; the way that it was able to facilitate learning about children’s rights in an active and personal way, that it succeeded in placing, on equal footing, the objects and stories of the young people alongside the artefacts of the National Museum, and the wide reach that the Rights Museum had to the public, through the media and from those who visited it.

The main challenges were in finding time and space with the young people to work in a way that was outside of the curriculum – although there are important curricular subjects being addressed. I am eternally grateful to the staff of Larkin, particularly Máire O’Higgins for facilitating that. Another challenge I found was a lack of understanding, of and buy-in to, the idea of human rights by the young people that I worked with. I picked up on a prevailing perception, before I started working with them, that human rights were a

My takeaways from this projects are many but the main ones that jump to mind

1. That artists have a different approach to working that the students can benefit from that perspective. The artists way is often a more circuitous, process and enquiry based approach than students are used to in mainstream education. It’s one that’s comfortable with the state of ambiguity you find yourself in while you’re working, one that allows one to say “I don’t know what this is yet” and for that not to be a bad thing. That’s not to say artists are the only people who can demonstrate that way of working, but it is something that artists can do because of the way many of us work.

2. That as an artist working in a school, it’s important that that’s what I remain – an artist. My job is to be an artist, not an Art or CSPE teacher or anything else. The job is artist and that has value.

3. That the framing of work by young people has a profound impact on how it’s perceived by people, but most importantly themselves. The way their work (whether it be a copy book, or a sculpture or a story told in class) is handled by the people in the world around them, subconsciously tells them something about it’s value. And my feeling is there is a huge artistic and social potential in subverting expectations of that value – as we did in small way by displaying “ordinary” objects in a museum.
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office has commissioned an education pack that features a guide on how to create your own rights museum in your school or community, and it will be available from their website in the autumn 2018 term.

If I may, I’d like to thank the Arts in Education portal for offering me this chance to share the process; Rebecca Mclaughlin and Niall Muldoon in the OCO for their support and vision in making this happen; Helen Beaumont and Lorraine Cormer in the National Museum’s Education Department for all that they did in hosting the exhibition, giving it a platform and providing expert facilitation on museum curation to the students; Richard Bruton for officially opening the exhibition; the students at Larkin Community College, and staff Siobhán Mckenzie, Declan Quinn, Emma O’Reilly, and Principal Thomas Usher. In particular I would like to thank Assistant Principal Máire O’Higgins, without whose drive, vision and passion for education and art, this wouldn’t have started and would have fallen at the first hurdle.

 

!!!! Baboró ‘Drama Tools for the Classroom’ CPD for Teachers & Educators

Limited Places Left

Baboró International Arts Festival for Children

Date: July 2nd – 6th 2018 from 9.30am to 2.00pm

Would you like to build on your ability to use the creative arts to aid learning in the classroom?  This July 2-6 Baboró International Arts Festival for Children presents a five-day, EPV Department of Skills and Education approved summer course, which has been specially designed to explore the use of drama, both as a subject as well as a methodology. The aim of this CPD course is to inspire and augment learning in the classroom and enrich the professional practice of teachers and educators. A limited number of tickets remain.

The course provides participants with an opportunity to gain insights and practical tools to explore drama in the classroom in a safe and relaxed environment, supported and mentored by drama specialist and primary teacher Irene O’Meara. The emphasis is on process drama and enhancing teacher and child experience in the classroom.

Who is it for?

This professional development course is suitable for teachers and professionals working with children, who are enthusiastic about gaining useful drama tools to support their teaching via an integrated approach within the primary curriculum, and using drama games and strategies to enable their students to become directly involved in their own learning.

What will you learn?

The course has a practice-based approach, and offers participants 5 days of rich, fun and engaging learning, enabling them to enjoy engaging in drama activitieswith students in a confident manner while exploring a broad range of stimuli for the creation of drama. It will also help participants to feel better equipped to deepen students’ experience of the arts via simple exercises in pre and post engagement.

About the Facilitator

Irene O’Meara is a Drama specialist and primary school teacher, who has been facilitating In-Service for over two decades, and has designed and delivered programmes in Drama, Integrated Arts, Literacy, and Early Childhood Education. Irene has worked in the Drama Department at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and is currently a tutor and assessor with Hibernia College.

Course Details
Baboró CPD 2018 ‘Drama Tools for the Classroom’
July 2nd – 6th 2017 from 9.30am to 2.00pm
The O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, NUI Galway
Course Cost €70 per person
Places Limited to 23
Attendees Receive: Certificate of Participation

For more details please contact Baboró on 091 562 667, email admin@baboro.ie or online here www.baboro.ie/news-events/cpd-2018

!!!! Guest Blogger: Dan Colley, Dramaturg & Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre – Blog No.3

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 3: Rights Museum

In my last blog post I detailed “Phase 1” of the process in which I facilitated drama and storytelling workshops with the 2nd year Art students at Larkin Community College, and the work-in-progress of the Rights Museum project which we presented in Croke Park for the OCO’s UNCRC25 Launch.

Although the presentation in Croke Park was supposed to be a “work-in-progress”, any readers who have done works-in-progress themselves will know there’s an inevitable sense of completion that sets in afterwards. Our challenge for “Phase 2” of the Rights Museum project was finding something new in executing the same idea. At the same time, the Art teachers Declan Quinn and Siobhán Mackenzie (who had been an essential energetic and creative force through the process from the beginning) started to feel the gravitational pull of the curriculum on their time, and thought that to continue with the process would be consume more time than they could afford to give. So, it was with some difficulty that we decided to draw a line under the phase 1 with the second year art students. This, I’m sure is a challenge and a decision many educators reading this will understand.

In order to continue, Máire O’Higgins, Deputy Principal and coordinator of artistic partnerships, needed to find an enthusiastic teacher and a group students who could benefit from the work. This she found in abundance in Emma O’Reilly and her first year CSPE class.

The task now was to recreate the process of phase one with a new group. This time, given that they were a CSPE class, we decided to find our way in through the UNCRC. Emma O’Reilly gave an introduction class to the United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child, supported by me and Máire O’Higgins. Human Rights is one of the core pillar concepts of their CSPE course which they would normally cover in second year, so there was a curricular link there.

In our next session we asked the students to pick what they considered to be the most essential article in the UNCRC and to say why. We found their answers tended to cluster around the articles relating to family (and this was a theme we saw bare out in the objects they chose for the museum later). As the students told us which articles they thought were essential , my job as facilitator was to foment debate and dissent.

I used an exercise called “The Continuum” in which we cleared away the tables and chairs, nominated one end of the room to be “strongly agree” and the other side to be “strongly disagree” with “unsure” in the middle. When I said a statement, the students had to place themselves in the room, depending on how they felt about the statement. So, for example I might say “’Article 24; you have the right to healthcare’ is the most essential right” and the students would place themselves in the room depending on whether they agreed or strongly disagreed or somewhere in the middle. Then I would call on people who had taken the most extreme positions to say why. As they listened to the conversation and opposing points, students were encouraged to change their positions in the room as they changed their minds.

In this way, the students learned, from each other, the importance of their rights through the personal anecdotes they shared; they learned about their rights in reality. Choosing extreme statements to polarise opinion at the start and then allowing them to tease out the nuances among themselves.

In my next, and final, blog post I’ll describe how we applied this knowledge to museum curation; how one can tell stories and create meaning through selecting  and placing objects. I’ll describe the process of working with the National Museum of Ireland, the launch of our completed Rights Museum exhibition in the National Museum at Collins Barracks and the Education Pack being commissioned by the OCO based on the Rights Museum.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Dan Colley, Dramaturg & Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre – Blog No.2

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 2: Rights Museum

The Rights Museum is a participatory art project that attempts to allow our objects do just that. Its subject is the lives of the second-year Art students in Larkin Community College and how the rights enshrined in the UNCRC intersect with their actual lived experience. Or don’t.

In the last post I described the beginnings of the project idea and the partners who came together to make in happen; Larkin Community College, The Ombudsman for Children’s Office and the National Museum of Ireland.

I began work on “Phase 1” of the project in September 2017 with two second-year Art classes, along with teachers Siobhán McKenzie and Declan Quinn. I facilitated four weekly hour-long workshops  on Wednesday afternoons outside of class time. I also worked with the students in their art classes with their teachers.

The workshops used drama and storytelling techniques to three main aims; to surprise and entertain, to get them cooperating as a group, not just individuals; and to introduce new forms of self-expression. That work included a simple ball throwing and catching exercise (acknowledging the stress that it causes, allowing ourselves to drop the ball, and focussing on the thing that mattered; that we were all working together calmly to the get the ball around the circle). We also stood in a circle and played what I call “Kung Foo” (of which there’s many variations including “zip, zap, boing”) We also played a game in which 5 participants sit in a row, and then take turns standing up and saying “My name is X” followed by something that’s true. The aim is to always have someone standing and sating something, to act on the impulse to fill a gap where it occurs and to say anything that’s true, however mundane, that come into your head. This exercise allows for back-and-forth conversations to emerge, (eg. “My name is Dan and I have two brothers” followed by “My name is Stacy and I also have two brothers”) and for the participants to get to know each other better and have a way of expressing themselves through the exercise.

In two Art classes a week, I focussed more directly on the task of creating a Rights Museum. That time was devoted to introducing the concepts of the UNCRC (supported by a workshop delivered by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office) and a focus on objects and what story they can tell (supported by a “If Objects Can Talk” workshop in National Museum of Ireland).

The students were asked to pick an object that was meaningful to them and to bring it in to class.

They were asked to “free-write” about it.

They were asked to stand up and share why it was meaningful to them and what articles in the UNCRC it referred to.

This process lead the students to share among the following objects with their class:

In their other session each week, Ms McKenzie’s class divided into 4 groups. Each group took a theme of the UNCRC and created a large mind-map illustrating that theme and the rights that it represented. Mr Quinn’s class also divided into 4 groups and created interactive paper fortune tellers which illustrated the four themes.

The culmination of phase 1 was a work-in-progress presentation of the Rights Museum took place in Croke Park as part of the OCO’s launch of the UNCRC25 celebrations in September 2017. It featured :

The participants reported their surprise and delight at how their objects and artwork were displayed just like in a professional museum. They also reported experiencing a thrill at seeing other people coming to view their objects and read their writing, and a great sense of achievement in what they’d produced.

The work-in-progress was intended to mark the end of phase 1 and the beginning of another, but we were soon to discover that it had the sense of an ending in and of itself. For phase 2 of the work, we would be starting again with a new set of students and finding a way to join the work that both groups had done.
 

!!!! CPD for Teachers at The Ark: An Drámaíocht sa Seomra Ranga

The Ark

Date: Saturday 10th March

Teachers are invited to enjoy a morning exploring a range of simple and accessible drama processes for the classroom using the Irish language. Using The Ark’s season theme of Me & the City and aspects of the primary curriculum as a bouncing off point, you will have the chance to develop confidence and skills in working thematically through drama in Irish. The workshop will focus on activities suitable for 2nd-6th class. It will be presented bilingually and is suitable for teachers at all levels of confidence in working through Irish.

Saturday 10 March @ 10:30 am to 1.30pm

For more information go to www.ark.ie/events/view/cpd-for-teachers-drama-sa-seomra-ranga-drama-in-the-classroom

!!!! The Civic Theatre – Tenderfoot performances for schools

The Civic Theatre, Tallaght

Schools Performances – Thursday 25th at 12 pm & Friday 26th January at 10am and 2pm

Original plays, written by 15/16 year old playwrights, provide a unique glimpse into the world of our young people; articulating their experience and their reality.

TENDERFOOT, meaning neophyte, newbie, greenhorn, is The Civic Theatre’s apprentice theatre programme for transition year students.  Now in its eleventh year the programme provides students from eight different schools in the South County Dublin region the opportunity to create and perform original work for the stage. From January 25th to 27th this work can be seen in The Civic Theatre.  Plays written by young people, telling their stories, presenting the world as they see it.  These diverse and exciting plays, the work of young theatre makers, include –

The End of the Beginning by Tadhg Slye, an exploration of male friendship in a world of exams and first girlfriends and exploding toasters.

Plastic by Jordan Lee, a supernatural chiller guaranteed to make you jump out of your seat.

Seaside Story by Aidan Kelly, a comedy about families, holidays and global warming.

And Just for the Cracked by Chloe O’Flaherty which takes a fly on the wall look at a group of young people who find their friend unconscious and unresponsive at a party.

Tenderfoot Performances 2018

Schools Performances Thursday 25th at 12 pm & Friday 26th January at 10am and 2pm

Admission €10 / €5 concession

Booking 01 4627477  www.civictheatre.ie/ whats-on/tenderfoot-new- writing-showcase-2018/

!!!! Barnstorm presents Barney Carey Gets His Wings – a new production for primary school students

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Wed 21st – Fri 23rd February 

Rooting through an old trunk, Barney and his dad find more than they bargained for and a few things that set them wondering. Who makes the rules? What happens if you break the rules? And who is the lady with the beard?

Join them as they spread their wings in this comic tale of forgotten memories and future possibilities.

Written by award-winning children’s writer Brendan Murray and directed by Martin Drury, founder of The Ark – A Cultural Centre for Children.

‘Barney Carey Gets His Wings’ is a world-premiere of a new play for children in 1st to 4th classes, their teachers and families.

2 teachers free per class.

For bookings contact Watergate Theatre at www.watergatetheatre.com

For further information go to www.barnstorm.ie

!!!! ‘Wide Eyes’ European Celebration of Performing Arts for the very young

Baboró International Arts Festival for Children

1 – 4 February, 2018

Baboró International Arts Festival for Children will host an exciting and imaginative programme of theatre and dance shows for babies and children aged 0 – 6 years, presented by Irish and international artists. Wide Eyes is a one-off four-day European celebration of Performing Arts for very young children that will take place in Galway from 1 – 4 February, 2018.

As well as an extensive workshop and performance programme for schools and early years groups, Wide Eyes will feature a range of talks and workshops for early years professionals, including a talk for early years educators and artists, Celebrating the Creative Arts in Early Years Setting, presented in collaboration with Early Childhood Ireland. There are also a limited number of delegate packages available for the event.

Wide Eyes is the culmination of a four-year ‘Small size, Performing Arts for Early Years’ project with European partners from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK and Ireland.

Wide Eyes will see 140 arts professionals from 17 organisations and 15 countries gather in Galway to present an extravaganza of new dance and theatre shows for 0-6 year olds developed specifically under the project’s overarching theme of ‘Wide Eyes’. The concept for Wide Eyes, developed by Project Leader, Roberto Frabetti of La Baracca – Testoni Ragazzi in Italy, is rooted in the belief that children are never too young to quite literally have their eyes opened wide in amazement while they experience the performing arts. The programme will feature performances for schools, crèches and families, produced by some of Europe’s finest creators of Early Years work, as well as professional development workshops and industry symposia.

For more information and to view the full programme of events go to www.baboro.ie/wide-eyes

Schools performances will take place on Thursday, 1 February and Friday, 2 February. We welcome bookings from early years groups such as; preschools, crèche and Montessori, junior and senior infants and those with additional needs.

!!!! Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Sleeper Creeper was a collaborative creation between Robbie Perry (musician), Annie Callaghan (artist) and Philip Doherty (playwright) and was performed in Townhall Cavan at the end of 2016 as part of their seasonal programming for children. The success of the show duly inspired Joanne Brennan (Arts in Education CMETB) to approach Robbie and Annie and adapt Sleeper Creeper for a pilot project to run in two selected primary schools, one in Cavan and one in Monaghan. The original show was quite complex in its clever use of artistic disciplines. From live and improvised music being layered throughout, the use of loop machines to projected shadow puppetry involving unique, as well as, everyday objects. All of this was performed with no dialogue and told the story of an old and lonely inventor who miraculously creates a living being from parts that he finds amongst junk. Their friendship grows from their collaborative performances and zany situations they find themselves in.

Rather than try to create the same performance for young students, Robbie and Annie chose an entirely new story titled, Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream in which Paddy Red Downey fishes for junk and finds himself transported to a world beyond his wildest dreams eventually hearing an old women’s voice calling him to return home and share his new found wonders with everyone.

Andrea Malone, Teacher

The Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream project was easily one of the most effective projects I have been involved in. Initial conversations with Joanne Brennan (Arts in Education CMETB) and meetings with Robbie and Annie entailed planning, organising and ensuring all requirements were met e.g. garda vetting, school space, curriculum linkage etc. Robbie and Annie also met with the children to introduce themselves and explain the project.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

The ideas were developed as a direct result of the principles of Sleeper Creeper. A multidisciplinary approach to art form and the themes based around recycling and repurposing of everyday materials and junk. The story itself was created as a catalyst for inspiring young minds. Using the story as an opening for the project workshops, we were able to demonstrate to the young audience aspects of theatre, drama, storytelling, music and shadow puppetry that they would in turn learn to use over a two day period for their own collective performance.

The teacher allowed Robbie and Annie to bring the children around the school grounds to examine and collect, in pairs, any objects they found of interest. These objects were then projected through the use of an analog overhead projector and discussed openly and collectively on how their appearances changed with our changing perceptions. This example facilitates a validation process for the individual in what they later view as art and how it can then be manipulated and viewed to help create a story.

Then began a separation of the group into two halves. One half facilitated by Annie and the shadow puppetry and the other half by Robbie and music creation as a means to underscore the students very own production.

The teacher’s role within this workshop was almost only to observe and maintain any control if needed. It cannot be overstated how important this approach was to the project overall. Conversations and shared opinions with the teacher, revealed aspects and qualities of each student’s character as they worked closely and intensely with the artists that were keenly observed and somewhat enlightening to the teacher.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

The project itself was quite experimental. We hadn’t taken something as complex as our performance, and adapted it with a workshop in mind ever before. Also, there were many challenges such as time needed for the students to learn multiple skills with a final performance, questions regarding the suitability of their classrooms, rather than a hall for the workshops etc. We were very pleased to find that we coped quite favorably with all these challenges which were also challenges for the schools. The fact that we could work within the classroom meant no upset to the rest of the school in organizing or rearranging scheduled use of alternative rooms. Also, the fact that the hours we put in were arranged for an intense two days consecutively meant a greater opportunity for all involved to focus and achieve a fully immersive creative experience.

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

One of the activities that I felt really supported the children’s confidence with regards to the music aspect was the time in which they were allowed to explore the different instruments. I found that at the age the children were at doing the projects, they were conscious of whether or not they were “good at” something. It can often be hard to try and get them to engage fully in something if they feel it is on an area that they aren’t talented in. However, the vast arrange of musical instruments that were available to them allowed them to try out their musical abilities on them. I found that my class would often associate musical talent as to whether or not you could play the piano etc. However, with the way in which they were able to explore the vast array of instruments and create backing music for a story, it was a whole new side to music for them. It was also something that after we had engaged with in the workshop, they wanted to do it more in class. The more exposure they get to experience this, the more confident they will grow in it.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

Probably the most significant thing for us was the true potential of each and every student to achieve in an extremely short but significant amount of time, an entire production. From inception until final performance in front of an audience, the entire class worked as a team with individuals quickly finding their strengths and how best they could contribute to the group as a whole. It was wonderful to observe, for example, two students that were much happier to be a part of the technical projection work rather than perform music or drama. This revealed for us the complex range of interests within any given group and reinforces the idea that we need projects that provide more opportunities which exercise the potential for total inclusivity.

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

Telling of a story is something most children love to do. Some I have found can find it difficult telling a story when they have to write it- for many different reasons. E.g. some might find spelling difficult and get so caught up on whether a word is spelt correctly or not hinders their story telling ability as they don’t get their story finished. The way in which the children were allowed to tell a story through art and music really developed confidence in not only the children who love writing stories but also in the children who find that hard. While doing this they were also developing their Drama skills- even though they may not have realised that. They were able to use their imagination and tell a story not only with their drawings but just by using environmental objects- again, allowing those who didn’t feel confident in their artistic abilities to still their artistic confidence by using environmental objects in an artistic way. It was something that they really enjoyed. They developed so many different skills by doing the project, learnt lots of new things without realising it.

Andrea Malone, Teacher

This process of choice supported confidence in its own right. The children learned through many different methodologies that suited all learners. Robbie and Annie facilitated so appropriately but still allowed the children to have responsibility for their own learning.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

It has only further increased my belief in the creative potential of children and the potential of group orientated creative projects

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

It has changed the way in which I teach arts education as it reminded me how important it is to not only teach the subjects but to allow them to co-exist with each other, to use them together as a way to allow for further exploration as to what they can achieve when combined.

It has given me more confidence in doing projects like this, integrating the Arts subjects- along with others, in the classroom

Andrea Malone, Teacher

This project has given me the confidence as an educator to give the children much more responsibility for their learning. My Arts lessons are less structured which has resulted in a smoother flow to lessons. The power of integration throughout the Arts subjects was evident throughout the ‘Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream’   project hence I have increased integration throughout Drama, Art, Music and Physical Education.

‘Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream’ was a wonderful project where I witnessed children growing in self-confidence, learning and having so much fun!

!!!! Graffiti Theatre present ‘Walking Man’ by Jody O’Neill

Graffiti Theatre Company

Touring: November – December 2017

‘The world may be in miniature but the story is universal …’

Walking Man tells the tale of a man who has spent his whole life in pursuit of success.  He has always rushed headlong through life, determined to follow in his father’s footsteps to the best job on the top floor of the tallest building in the whole city. And when he has done all that, with Walking Woman and little Walking Baby at his side, something doesn’t feel quite right …

So, Walking Man must go on an entirely new journey, which takes him far from home.

Walking Man is a charming allegory, which will captivate its audience. With the help of an original live music score, the actor brings us into the miniature world of the Walking Man, a tiny wooden figure.

Walking Man is designed for 1st, 2nd & 3rd classes and performs to one class at a time (up to a maximum of 35 students). The accompanying Teacher Resource Book (available online) links carefully with the curriculum across a range of subject areas.

Please note: Graffiti Theatre can give your school the exciting opportunity to attend a performance in their fully equipped Theatre on Assumption Road. If the performance is booked to take place in your school please contact Graffiti for space requirements.

Cost: Thanks to their funders, Graffiti Theatre Company can offer this production for just €150 per performance (and €100 for a second performance on the same day).

For more information & booking: tel. 021 4397111,  email:bookings@graffiti.ie

www.graffiti.ie

!!!! The Plough and the Stars – Curriculum co-production by Barnstorm Theatre Company with Watergate Theatre

Barnstorm Theatre Company & Watergate Theatre

Wed 29 November to Sat 2 December

Post-primary schools in the south-east are in for a theatrical treat this November and December!

Due to the success of last year’s first Curriculum Play Live co-production with the Watergate Theatre: Brian Friel’s Translations, Barnstorm Theatre Company’s second Curriculum Play is Seán O’Casey’s ‘The Plough and the Stars’.

These productions are in response to requests over the years from post-primary schools to produce a curriculum play and to give students the opportunity to see the play that they are studying as live theatre, and not solely as a text to be studied in the classroom.
The Plough and the Stars is one of the greatest in the Irish canon and one that Barnstorm and the Watergate are proud to present as the second Curriculum Play. (Barnstorm values input from teachers about our next curriculum play.)

Watergate Theatre:
Wed 29 November to Sat 2 December; performances nightly at 8pm.

School performances:
Thursday 29 November – 10.30am
Friday 1 December – 10.30am

Tickets :

€10 –  student groups of 10+

€18 / €15 concession

Watergate Box Office:  056 7761674

For more www.watergatetheatre.com

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Vicky Donnelly, Education Coordinator at Galway One World Centre

Vicky Donnelly is coordinator of the Galway One World Centre, and works on the design and delivery of the Global Teachers Award CPD programme, as well as development education and antiracism workshops for schools, community groups and universities. 

Vicky Donnelly Headshot

Exploring Refuge and Migration Issues With Young Children: notes from Baboro’s Primary In-Career Course, Drama Tools for the Classroom.

You know you’re in good hands when the facilitator of a week-long course for primary teachers, can guide a roomful of strangers from the polite stiffness of a Monday morning, to improvising scenes at a horse fair, and tracking the thoughts of a young character’s deepest fears and longings, all before lunch on the first day.

For the first week in July I had the good fortune to spend a week participating in Baboro’s ‘Drama Tools for the Classroom’, facilitated by the truly remarkable Irene O’Meara, who drew effortlessly from her vast experience in theatre, music, visual arts, a Masters in Drama and Theatre Studies, and all refined through years of real life experience in the classroom.  In addition to a number of primary school teachers, our diverse group included a youth mentor, a Spanish teacher, a Community Circus coordinator, an after-schools programme animator, a couple of play therapists, and me; a development education worker with the Galway One World Centre.

GOWC’s function is to provide workshops for schools, youth and community groups addressing a range of local and global justice issues, including refuge and migration; poverty; and anti-racism perspectives. Since 2012, GOWC has been delivering the Global Teachers Award programme in Ireland, offering training around the country for teachers who wish to bring a greater global justice perspective to their work.

In that time, the issue of rights for people fleeing danger and persecution has become increasingly urgent, along with the need to create opportunities to explore it in the classroom. But how? There are real challenges involved in addressing a crisis of this scale, in the context of rising Islamophobia, racism and right-wing sentiments, and a crushing accommodation crisis at home. And even greater challenges emerge when working with young children. There are numerous teaching resources available, and some of our own materials developed in-house, but I came looking for fresh ideas and inspiration about how Drama might offer ways of engaging younger children. In particular, I was seeking an age-appropriate approaches, that would allow for deep exploration of thoughts and feelings, and build empathy, without overwhelming children, but also, without trivialising the issues.

Over the course of the week, Irene shared numerous insights, tips and practical examples from her vast knowledge and experience, taking us through a number of drama conventions and sharing ideas about books, poems, artefacts and images for prompts. For my purposes though, most useful was her reminder of the 3 prerequisites for drama in the classroom: a safe environment; appropriate content; and a fictional lens.

While these are, of course, essential for approaching any theme, they provided me with a helpful framework to guide and anchor the design of classroom activities and lesson plans on the theme of refuge and migration.

The safety of the environment, beyond the practical need to ensure that the space is free of hazards, may also include considerations about working in smaller groups, to avoid intimidating ‘high-focus’ attention, or to ensure that consent is sought in advance before ‘spotlighting’ individuals. This concern for a safe environment also spills over into the need to make sensitive choices about the content being presented: is it age appropriate? Whose perspective is being shared? Are the characters portrayed as having agency, or as helpless victims?

Then comes the fictional lens. At a time of unprecedented crisis – over 65 million people are now displaced from their homes by war, conflict and persecution – I found myself gently steered away from the stark world of statistics and terrifying news reports, to the more accessible world of fiction.

Irene’s frequent reminders of the power of the fictional lens to explore potentially ‘difficult issues’, were peppered with quotes from the likes of Emerson and Camus (“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth”) and were accompanied with examples from the classroom, using storybooks, such as the beautifully illustrated When Jesse Came Across the Sea (Amy Hest and PJ Lynch) and Oskar and the Eight Blessings (Tanya and Richard Simon).  Though perhaps removed, geographically and temporally, from today’s crisis, the issues raised in these stories have much in common with the contemporary crisis, and provide opportunities for children to make those connections for themselves, and to explore the values, tensions, conflicts and opportunities attached to each.  Even seemingly whimsical storybooks, such as The Lighthouse Keeper’s Rescue (Rhonda and Simon Armitage), were opened up as spaces for young children to consider how it might feel to be displaced, or to need help from the wider community, as well as celebrating the diversity within a community that makes change possible.

While the news from Syria, Sudan or Iraq may be overwhelming for children (and, frankly, for many adults), the story of one child, or one family, will contain some universally recognisable details and concerns, and may be more relatable for pupils. All children love to play. All children want to feel safe.

This was the thinking behind German author, Kirsten Boie’s decision to base her book Everything Will Be Alright, on the experiences of a young Syrian girl, Rahaf, and her family. In Kirstens’ book, the family’s luggage, containing Rahaf’s doll, is stolen by people smugglers on the journey across the Mediterranean. “She’s very unhappy about losing her doll that way. The children here always start by asking, ‘Has she got her doll back?’ I think the reason for that is that this is something that they can imagine [happening to] themselves, whereas all the bombs and fighting and nights on the Mediterranean… they can’t imagine that happening to themselves. “Stories,” she explains, “…always make it much easier for children to understand something more than theoretical knowledge. I think that’s the chance we have…”

!!!! Doctor Darkness

Briefly tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did it get started?

The story began with a play, After Dark, by Olivier Award-winning English playwright, Mike Kenny. It is about fear of the dark and plays to First and Second Class pupils in primary schools. Graffiti first produced the play in of Spring 2015 accompanied by a short workshop. The company has a long track record of developing workshops using educational drama methods linked to the curriculum and to supporting teacher and pupil practice. The second time we produced the play we decided to build a substantial workshop around the play that could also function as a stand-alone workshop related to science.

We thought it was interesting to relate Drama to Science. Doctor Darkness could help investigate things related to nighttime. It began with nocturnal animals. This is part of the ‘Living Things’ Strand of the curriculum for First and Second Class and the Strand Unit is ‘Plants and Animals’. It also allowed us to use the Curriculum Skills of Predicting, Hypothesising and Investigating – all key skills in Science.

For some reason we immediately came up with something which made us smile! Doctor Darkness immediately offered roles for the teacher (Chief Scientist), pupils (Investigators and Specialist Expert Groups of Scientists) and Doctor Darkness, who desperately needs their help to restore the world’s faith in the value of darkness!

We trialed Doctor Darkness with the help of six schools with whom we were about to begin another research project that involves teachers and pupils in active collaboration and research. We felt that this curriculum rich workshop helped establish confidence in the use of drama methods and developed good and sharing relationships with teachers and pupils. From our point of view, by building on the teacher’s own practice and by ensuring support in the teacher’s use of very light role, we are building confidence in the use of role in the classroom.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Educational Drama creates a world in a classroom where the exploration of a fictional hypothesis allows everyone to have a voice, to share authority and to explore ideas.

Each of the four groups of children in their classroom were experts in their fields, the teacher the instigator and monitor of the investigations and consultant authority on the dark, and the facilitator had a problem which could only be answered with the help of the experts.

Each class has its own atmosphere and dynamic and because there are no absolute answers authority is given to the children to decide and to follow up. All participants are explorers together.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

There was a lot to smile about for all participants and it was one of those special projects where there were few challenges. That’s not to be complacent – a lot of hard work and stepping out of comfort zones happened.

There really is very little training for teachers in the use of drama as a teaching method and teachers frequently fear that they will make fools of themselves, lose control, not have the confidence and so forth. It takes courage to take the first step into role.

By having a support adult in role and by taking on a role very similar to that of a teacher the pressure is eased and the teacher is more free to try things out. With this challenge came great positivity and a willingness to engage which made this a really enjoyable experience for all.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Creating an atmosphere of shared responsibility, mutual respect and mutual support, trust and daring is at the center of collaborative exploration and invention.

Ways in which this came about include:-
1. Being open to discussion – e.g., willing to be flexible with the workshop
2. Setting clear learning objectives and learning outcomes
3. Being passionate about the use of drama to support learning development
4. By building on the teacher’s own practice
5. By using clear curriculum links
6. By working in partnership with teachers, children and schools
7. By observing and sharing best practice
8. By giving the teacher and the children an active and exploratory role in the session, eliciting prior knowledge and extending learning/teaching

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

The relationship with teachers, pupils and management has been enhanced and that has given us and, we hope, them a firm ground to move into our collaborative research project, Raising My Voice, which we mentioned earlier.  Raising My Voice is based on the Young People’s Voices in Decision Making document from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Further Feedback from the Teachers.

Throughout the workshop, children took on new roles, explored their creativity and enjoyed the freedom to decide things for themselves. The inclusive and safe atmosphere that was created enabled quieter children to freely express themselves and contribute their own solutions to the problems that emerged.

The children benefited from engaging with a variety of drama methods at the hands of experts. The children gained confidence and competence from seeing a teacher being creative and ‘becoming’ a different character – just like themselves.

The classroom set-up is usually children and teacher. By crashing through the barrier, whereby children and teacher engage with a third entity (in this instance Graffiti Theatre Company), the usual boundaries were crossed creating a unique and powerful opportunity for growth and development. The teacher became one of the children in a sense, and this had a tangible effect on the quieter, less outgoing children who really relaxed and engaged.