19 February 2018
In 2017, I took part in Anglia Ruskin Community Theatre Company's 'Theatre in Education' Production, an extracurricular activity that provided me with an insight into a career relating to my university course, drama.
During this production we, as a cast, worked to benefit the local community, creating a performance about recycling for primary-age students. The rehearsal process involved meeting at least once a week for a couple of hours to create and develop the production.
We started by participating in various fun team-building exercises that allowed us to get to know the company we were working with. This included a professional director, Matthew Townshend, who helped with the creation and direction of the piece.
These exercises helped us to develop a connection as a group, allowing us to work well together and devise a piece that would benefit primary school children in the local area. They also helped us to develop new skills while developing as actors.
We then read a panto script before improvising short scenes in small groups, tailoring the story to our main theme of recycling. Throughout the creation of the production, we used improvisation as a main devising tool, giving us creative ownership over the piece as a group. We also made any decisions following a team discussion about ideas.
The creation of characters and the production involved not only fellow students from ARU, but also the local community. The main costume (a suit for a recycling superhero named Michael) was designed by a child from a local primary school, who won a competition that we ran. The competition was an engaging experience for the pupils, who all said they thoroughly enjoyed being part of the design process.
The performance of the final piece involved touring local primary schools and working with children in groups from Year 2 to Year 6. This was an interesting range to work with as we had to amend our communication skills accordingly, as well as sections of audience interaction that depended on the age of the audience. We could never be certain how they would react, so we used improvisational skills to keep them interested and to react to their questions and input.
My experience rehearsing and performing in this show has been positive. I have learnt many valuable skills as a result, such as communication, commitment, team work and problem solving, all of which I can apply to everyday life as well as any future theatre work I take part in.
Laura Mackie studies BA (Hons) Drama at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.