The Creative Teacher Project

An NQT Bringing Creativity to the Classroom


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The National Theatre Drama Teacher’s Conference 2015: Day Two Recap

Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 1
Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 2
Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 3
Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 4

Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 5

That’s Leonard (the puppet) and I!

 

My brain was more prepared on Day 2 and I remembered to take some pictures of my sessions! Well, one of them at least!

I was supposed to be taking a session on using the NT Archive on day 2, but it was undersubscribed. Luckily, I got to sneak into the puppetry session led by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié of the newly formed Gyre and Gimble, who worked on Warhorse (!!!!). We were taken through some of their previous works, which was distinctly mind-blowing. They also worked on The Light Princess, a musical by Tori Amos. Incidentally I was lucky enough to be at the performance of The Light Princess on the NT’s 50th Anniversary – whoop! The puppetry in that production was truly amazing, so I was thrilled to be able to hear more about behind the scenes from Caldwell and Olié.

We were then allowed to get our hands dirty, proverbially speaking. They presented us with a drama teacher’s dream – a whole roll of brown paper! It doesn’t take much when you’ve got a room full of people with amazing imaginations. They took us through a basic puppetry making workshop, focussing on the three things that make puppets come alive:

  • Breath
  • Focus/eyeline
  • Weight

We separated into groups and made our puppets, then improvised a scene where we focussed on one of the above. It was excellent fun.

I’ve worked in puppetry a bit before, and was privileged to be taught by Philip Mitchell of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in Western Australia. Having said that, it has been years since I have properly invested time in it, and I had become so rusty, that I truthfully would have avoided puppetry in my classes. So this workshop was an excellent reminder for me of the fundamentals. I found it really sparked my imagination, and I felt immediately that lots of slightly buried information was coming back to me, along with a spot of confidence. A really worthwhile couple of hours!

The second and final masterclass of the day was a voice workshop, facilitated by NT head of voice Jeanette Nelson. She used some young actors from the current NT Production of Dara to demonstrate a series of exercises we could use in class when helping our students with vocal technique. This was exactly the sort of thing I had come to the NT hoping to participate in. It was pitched perfectly, and Nelson’s knowledge of the mechanics of our voice was second to none. It was really incredible to be able to participate in a lesson taught, not only by the best in the area, nor the country, but someone who is at the top of her field in the world. Truly amazing!

My only reflection on the voice session was that it would have been great to have a handout. Like the puppetry workshop, I have done a lot of vocal work before, but I’d be the first to admit that I haven’t practiced any of it in at least 5 years, so anything I can take away with me to refresh my brain is much appreciated.

After the class, we had a debrief about the two days and what we wanted to see more of from the NT in the future. I was glad to be able to say thank you to the team that organised the conference, as I cam away more invigorated by my new profession than I have been for a long time. It was two days well spent, in my opinion, and I will be glad to attend future events!

If you attended the NT Conference I would be so glad to hear from you – even if we disagree! Please make yourself known in the comments.

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The National Theatre Drama Teacher’s Conference 2015: Day One Recap

The Creative Teacher Project: The National Theatre

Image Source: The National Theatre

I was lucky enough to spend Thursday and Friday last week attending the inaugural Drama Teacher’s Conference at the National Theatre in London. You may have seen me mention this once of twice on the blog before, but the NT truly is one of my favourite London attractions, not only as a teacher, but as an arts and theatre lover. Their £5 tickets for the under-26 was an amazing offer of which I took full advantage for many years!

Details of the conference were brought to my attention by the wonderful Karla of The Drama Teacher’s Network – a fabulous drama blog, that I encourage you to start reading immediately if you do not already. Karla had been contacted by the NT with a special offer, and so I found myself lucky again, and was able to attend the conference at a reduced rate. Woohoo! So far so good.

I arrived early at the NT on Thursday, to be greeted by Andy Pritchard, who works in Education and Learning at the NT, and possibly the *best* delegate pack I have ever had the fortune to be allocated! Seriously, the packs were so thoughtfully created – water, a notebook, a pencil and pen, as well as outlines for the two days and our schedules stuck on the front. Boom. It’s a great way of making your delegates feel welcome and prepared to learn.

There were so many sessions I would have loved to attend, but as I was a late registration many of them were fully booked! My sessions on Day 1 were on the following:

  • Theatre Design with Tom Scutt
  • Reviewing Live Theatre with Kate Basset and Catherine Love
  • Panel Discussion: Careers

On the whole, I found the careers session the most valuable. While I found Tom Scutt’s work and the discussions with Kate and Catherine fascinating, there was also a bit of disconnect between what they do in the industry, and what we’re required to do in classrooms. It was in that respect that I could tell this was the first conference the NT had run – these sessions weren’t exactly tailored to what I need as a teacher, and as such I wasn’t able to come away with them with new ideas to implement immediately, although I enjoyed them immensely!

The careers session was absolutely wonderful, in a slightly angry way, which I know is confusing! We had a panel between the Head of Production, the Head of Apprenticeships and Head of Marketing all at the NT. Their main advice was to tell our students to get out there and do as much theatre work (even for free) as they can, if they want a career in the arts. It was actually helpful to know that this is still what most industry professionals are giving as advice; but frustrating because telling our students (and their parents) that they need to slog it out for next to no pay for 10 years doesn’t help us legitimise the arts as a profession. I came away from the session, however, feeling invigorated by the work ahead; it became clear that there is a real need for a stronger partnership between educators and professionals to create stronger pathways into the arts for all young people, not just those at either end of the socio-economic scales.

To tell you the truth, I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the first day, but I was really excited to return on Friday for more workshops. I feel so lucky to be a train ride away from such a wonderful resource: this sort of event is part of my answer when people ask me why I moved to rainy Britain!


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Back in the Saddle

It’s been a while, no? About a month ago, I went from this:

Australia - The Creative Teacher Project

To this:

England - The Creative Teacher Project

 

Hot summer’s days in Perth to a rather more frosty atmosphere in Kent, England. I’m currently waiting for some last minute paperwork to come through before I can start teaching, so there’s not much to report!

Apart from the fact that tomorrow, I will be attending the National Theatre’s Drama Teacher Conference in London, something I am extremely excited about. I’ve got a couple of sessions booked in, and I’m hoping to meet some friendly faces, learn about theatre and teaching drama in a British context, and have a whole lotta fun!

Many thanks got to Karla at the Drama Teacher’s Network, who brought the conference to my attention on her wonderful blog! I’ll be tweeting throughout the day on @createteachproj, so please check in with me there.

Hope you have all had a great start to 2015, and that your school year is progressing well!