PRIMARY 6 – Teachers

For the purpose of introduction, my name is Charlotte Hulme and I have just embarked on the challenge that is final year of university at Brunel in West London. I am doing my degree in English Literature and Theatre and, consequently, I am doing my theatre placement here at London Bubble! So, from now I will be writing blog posts after our intergenerational workshops that run on Thursday evenings, in order to document the work that we do and the creative process!

During the workshop this evening we worked in different ways, using contrasting aspects of school life as the stimuli.

First of all, we split into groups of about four or five and each of the groups had a statistic that they had obtained during the week and brought to the session and this statistic was relative to primary school. In my group, we had the statistic that in China, 21 million children under the age of 10 years old use the web!

Consequently, we had to develop a way to show our audience this by incorporating the theme of ‘primary’. We struggled as a group at first to represent such a vast number without using words! However, we decided to represent this by all being on our phones, bar one participant, who did hop scotch in the middle. We then persisted to walk with our phones so close to our faces that we bumped into her over and over again. The girl doing the hopscotch then read the statistic aloud in a sombre, dissatisfied voice, as if to signify that she was in the minority.

Other statistics incorporated primary school aspects such as popular names, average heights and more. All of these represented in contrasting ways made for a comical yet informative start to the session.

Moving on, we split into groups again. Someone read aloud a script which described a teacher going to work and what she did in the classroom. From this, six specific gestures had to be created, to represent the key parts in the text. These gestures were to represent a teacher who is 1. Upbeat, 2. In control, 3. Make Things Clear, 4. Keeping on top of any challenges, 5. Bouncy Energy, 6. Stern.

The reader would then keep re-reading the text and we had to do our gestures over and over again, each time working on the precision of them. For example, we would keep repeating the same gesture continuously until the speaker started to read again; we would do our gestures every time the reader stopped, and we would freeze in our ending gesture position every time the reader started to read. This conciseness led to the actions becoming well rehearsed and fluid, especially after repeating them several times and working with contrasting speeds; fast, slow and so on.

We then incorporated the journey to school into this practice. The start of the piece of text described the teacher making his/her way to school. We had to make our way to school so that people whose name with ‘A’, for example, would arrive faster than those whose names began letters further down the alphabet. This, in turn, added the believable aspect into the work, as in everyday life we would all, perhaps, take a different route or journey in order to arrive at the same location.

It was a great session where we worked together as a group to explore, more deeply, the ways in which teachers do, themselves, incorporate gestures and (hopefully) enthusiasm, sometimes quite flamboyantly, in order to get a message across to their class full of students. The group consensus was that this practice worked far better without music or verbiage because it put more of an emphasis on the movements, drawing attention to our body language.

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