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The Importance of Creative Dramatic Activities/Games in the Classroom

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Written by Young Gaiety tutor Liz Tyndall. Liz teaches and directs the Youth Theatre Company in Malahide and holds an MA in Directing from University College Dublin.

 

“Of all the arts, drama involves the participant the most fully: intellectually, emotionally, physically, verbally, and socially. As players, children assume the roles of others, and they learn about becoming more sensitive to the problems and values of persons different from themselves. At the same time, they are learning to work cooperatively, for drama is a communal art; each person is necessary to the whole.”

Creative Drama in the Classroom and Beyond
Nellie Mc Caslin

Where else can you find police officers, astronauts, dinosaurs, princesses, toymakers, and chefs all happily working side-by-side? In a creative drama classroom, of course.
A child’s pretend play in a drama classroom or at home is often considered fun and imaginative, but with limited educational value. The truth is, in the midst of creating a restaurant together, space walking around the moon as astronauts, twirling around with friends in a fairy-tale land, or taking part in creative drama activities in general, children are learning to solve problems, coordinate, cooperate, take direction, take leadership and think flexibly in a fun and safe environment.

Creative drama activities offer an opportunity for children to:
• Expand self-awareness
• Develop imagination
• Think independently
• Work cooperatively
• Improve communication skills
• Express a healthy release of emotions
• Build social awareness

In essence, creative drama is dramatic activities which have the experience of the participants as the goal. Creative drama can include dramatic play, story enactment, imagination journeys, theatre/drama games, music, and dance. “Let’s pretend” is the norm in creative drama class, it’s not just a child’s game. Because the emphasis in creative drama is process rather than product, teachers should have the freedom to take as much time as needed with their classes. When a student in a creative drama class prefers to watch instead of participate, because of shyness or fear, a teacher should be able to allow this also. The teacher can also become a participant at any stage and let the children lead the activities rather than being guided through them. Creative drama can help children learn about emotions, problem solving, and relating to other people. Through their experiences with drama, students develop their imaginations and their confidence. One of the most special things about creative drama is that there are no “wrong” answers – through pretending, animals can talk, kids can travel to outer space or the jungle, and the sky can be green while the grass is blue.

Dramatic play is so important in all stages of child development. Through creative dramatic activities:

• Children learn about themselves and the world. Dramatic play experiences are some of the first ways children learn about their likes and dislikes, their interests, and their abilities. They experiment with role playing and work to make sense out of what they’re observing in real life.

• Children work out confusing, scary, or new life issues. Have you ever witnessed children pretending to visit the doctor? One child dutifully holds the mock stethoscope as the others line up for a check-up. Through these role plays, children become more comfortable and prepared for life events in a safe way. Children often use pretend play to work out more personal challenging life events too, whether it is coping with an illness in the family, or the absence of a parent or divorce.

• Children develop important complex social and higher order thinking skills. Dramatic play is much more than simple play activities; it requires advanced thinking strategies, communication, and social skills. Through dramatic play, children learn to do things like negotiate, consider others’ perspectives, transfer knowledge from one situation to another, delay gratification, balance their own ideas with others, develop a plan and act on it, express and listen to thoughts and ideas, assign tasks and roles, and create different information and ideas. In this creative play description, we could just as easily be describing the skills needed to successfully manage a work project for an adult as describing children’s dramatic play.

• Children cultivate social and emotional intelligence. How we interact with others is key to our lifelong success and happiness. Knowing how to read social cues, recognize and regulate emotions, negotiate and take turns, and engage in a long-term activity that is mutually beneficial are no easy tasks. There is no substitute for creative and imaginative play when it comes to teaching and enhancing these abilities in children.

• Children create knowledge and skills. Because learning and child development doesn’t happen in discrete pockets of time or during isolated activities, children need opportunities to blend their skills and knowledge together. Dramatic play is an ideal way to do this. Think of children acting out a ‘supermarket’ scenario. They take on roles such as shopkeeper, shop assistant and customers working collaboratively they are interacting and engaging with one another, using their imaginations to help make sense of the world around them.

For all these reasons, play and games are a huge part of Young Gaiety classes. We believe that the process, the development and the personal impact creative drama has on the child far outweighs the end product, particularly with young children.

Time and again parents communicate to us how Young Gaiety has improved their child’s confidence, sense of self and social skills. We believe strongly in the value of creative drama for a child’s development – come sign up for a Try for Free day this September to witness it yourself!

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Advocating for more Drama on the Northside of Dublin

By Maeve Fitzgerald, Actress.

This article was commissioned by The Northside Partnershipmaeve-fitzgerald-max-228x300

We’re all trying to avoid drama in our lives. That’s understandable. But sometimes, a bit of drama can be a good thing.

What exactly is drama? Well firstly, I want to separate drama from ‘hassle’ or ‘being famous in the movies or the West End’. Theatre and ‘drama’ as we know it was first recorded as religious ritual in Ancient Greece and very quickly evolved to become a necessary tool that their society used to satisfy a human need to within us all; to tell the truths that we can’t tell.

By hiding behind masks, whether it be physical masks as they used in Greek theatre or the mask of a character that is not you, we can tell stories that we otherwise might not have the ability or bravery to tell. Corruption, power, jealousy, love were all themes that were prevalent in the first recorded plays from that time. Drama was used as a form of expression and exposure; using the power of the story or fable or allegory to make sense of the world around us and to take ownership of the shared human experience.
So what does this have to do with us here on the Northside? What does drama have to offer young people today who literally have the world at their fingertips? Simple; self-expression and self-confidence. Drama can be cathartic, therapeutic and transformative.

A quick Google search of drama schools Dublin yields 17 results on the Southside and 10 on the Northside. I broke down the biggest cast I have ever been in and leaving out the people from outside Dublin there were 9 Southsiders and 2 Northsiders. There are 6 third level institutions that produce the majority of working theatre practitioners in the city. 1 of them is on the Northside. These statistics don’t need to be elaborated on. They speak for themselves; that we simply do not have the same opportunities for children on this side of the river to explore the benefits of drama.

Several colleagues who work in the arts on the Northside mainly echoed the same theme- that they were able to have careers in the arts in spite of rather than because of being from the Northside. This is slowly improving and support schemes are being put in place and it will be interesting to see what great work this yields in the future. But let’s talk about now.
Not everybody who does drama wants – or rather needs – to be an actor. But the holistic benefits of drama far outstretch the dramatic arts. A friend of mine who teaches children speech and drama told me of the simple but life-altering effects it has had on her students. She has watched children too shy to speak their name aloud in front of their peers blossom into young people who are chomping at the bit for their voices to be heard. Taking part time courses in the Gaiety School of Acting in Temple Bar as a young teenager gave me, a very shy child, the confidence to make decisions about what I wanted to do to the rest of my life, and to recognise that the hierarchy of secondary school, where I was not one of the glossy girls, was temporary and that there were other possibilities beyond those occasionally repressive walls. It’s not just that drama is for those of us who don’t fit in, it’s for those of us who occasionally feel that our voice is not heard. In short, it’s for everybody. Drama for children should be a safe space where children can discover themselves. It enables children to articulate the inarticulable. It can be a magical space where that rarest of rare things is true- whatever you create, it’s impossible to get it wrong, because it’s yours.

How would having easier access to this have benefited me growing up on the Northside before I reached my teens and was allowed ‘into town’? Simple. I would have reached these conclusions sooner. I would have read more. I would have mixed more. I would have dipped my toe outside my comfort zone more. As an only child, I made up a lot of stories in my head. My parents broke up when I was seven and like a lot of young children do, I suspected it was partly my fault. Speech and drama classes would have provided an outlet for me to explore what was going on inside me.

There were none in Kilbarrack. And at that time my parents didn’t drive.

I can only speak from my experience. Would I have been a happier child if I had that space to create stories with other children and would I have been a more confident child if I had the knowledge that making up stories does not just have to be child’s play? That it is a worthwhile way of telling the world how we feel? Yes I would. We need to give children on this side of the city more space and freedom to explore this, and it has never been more important than now. Snapchat, Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram are blinkering young people’s view of the world. The world indeed, now exists in a screen that is 4.5 by 2.3 inches. And from an early age, children are exposed to what societal and peer pressures dictate what they ‘should’ be, not what they ‘are’. Being at a friend’s house with her two young daughters recently my heart was broken to see them going from being engrossed in a board game to engrossed in their screens because a familiar jingle notified them that Kylie Jenner had uploaded a new make-up item on Snapchat. Nobody looks up anymore. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. And it is a kind of natural progression, no doubt. But it would be naive to think that it is not having an impact on the imaginations of our children.
This is why we need a place where phones and self-consciousness are put aside, even for an hour and children are told- ok, this is your space to dream, and to turn those dreams into stories and none of those stories are wrong because your stories are enough because YOU are enough.

If young people aren’t given the opportunity to fly beyond the bounds of what social media dictates then we can forget about churning out Brendan Gleesons, Liam Cunninghams, Roddy Doyles, Damien Dempseys.

There’s beauty and inspiration all around us on the Northside. We have the nicest coastline, the most impressive Georgian architecture, the two best theatres, we have the main music venue in the country, the main sports stadium; we should be the ones to fill them.

The great work that Dublin Youth Theatre, the Billie Barry School and our other Northside drama schools are doing should be more locally available. Not everybody can afford fees. Approach organisations like the Northside partnership and community centres, community leaders, even politicians and ask for an investment. Because an investment in children’s confidence and creativity is an investment in the future of this country. We are known globally as the great storytellers of the world. It would be an amazing testament to the already well-established resilience of the Irish spirit if, in spite of our digital age, we continued to be able to produce the creative, artistic and brave minds that have ensured that in spite of our size we globally still bat with the big boys of literature, art, drama, music. But that responsibility does not lie with someone else, it starts at home. In our communities. It is up to us to see the value of giving a child a voice through play and creativity.

How can a child who is being bullied at school articulate the pain of being singled out when all you want to is fit in?
How can a child make sense of the muddled up feeling that come with the simple yet often traumatic experience of simply growing up?
Giving children the chance to play and let go is damage limitation. It is through play and creation that children make sense of things. It is not going to solve all of our societal problems but it is a step in the right direction in dealing with where we are a nation and what impact and residue that will leave on our children. We all suffer from the ‘it’ll be grand’ mentality when it mightn’t ‘be grand’ at all. If we give our children a place where their voices and their games and there confusions and their joys and their dreams can be played out in a safe space the world for them becomes a much less scary place. And going into adulthood it provides them with the knowledge that being themselves is an ok thing to be.

I’m proud to be a Northsider. And we are as well able to be just as conscious of the value of creativity in our children’s lives as our friends on the other side of the river. And I don’t just mean drama. Art classes, music classes, dancing classes; anything that gets the right-brain juiced up.

Talk to your children’s school or your local community centre or library about bringing in a drama teacher once a week, even once a month. It does not have to break the bank 3 euro each from 30 students would more than cover the costs of an hour or two’s work. All you need is a venue, a qualified and of course Garda vetted teacher and a few willing participants. Bring your children to plays, trust me, it’s way more exciting than the cinema. We have the Viking Theatre just down the road if you don’t want to travel into town. Or look into one of the drama schools that is already in operation here.

For those of you whose children are already doing speech and drama or music or art or dancing, you have made in invaluable investment in your child’s future and self-expression. They mightn’t know it now but they’ll thank you for it. And it does not have to stop with children. Every now and again, adults need to chance to play aswell. An hour a week of letting go of the desk, the phone, the car, the family can renew your relationship with yourself. So let’s give it a go here on the Northside and let’s not be afraid of having a little bit of drama in our lives.

The Gaiety School of Acting delivers classes in Malahide on the Northside of Dublin every Saturday for kids aged 4 – 18 years. New term begins in January. See here for more information!

 

Advice & Tips for your Drama School Audition

You’ve submitted your application, you’ve received your Round 1 audition date and time and the day has finally arrived. Insomnia got the better of you the night before and now you’re feeling tired as well as nervous. But hey, at least you’re prepared … or so you think you are.

Preparation is the key to success for every audition, especially for the Gaiety School of Acting – the National Theatre School of Ireland. And that doesn’t mean just remembering all of the lines. Finding the right monologues that are age appropriate and engaging will help you to stand out from the crowd. Monologues should be contrasting in order for us to gauge your range of acting ability. For example, if you choose Juliet’s speech before she takes the potion, then it would be wise for you to go for a comedic contemporary piece for your other monologue. On the other hand, if you’re a strong singer and would like to perform a monologue which would encompass a song, by all means, go for it. Playing to your strengths is always a good thing.

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When it comes to choosing your pieces, never pick them from a monologue book. It’s important that you read the plays in their entirety so that you understand the motives and complexities behind the character’s speech. There is nothing worse than a one-dimensional performance and the audition panel will recognise an ill-prepared monologue immediately. You may also be asked questions about the character and why you chose the piece or if you felt a particular affinity to him/her. We want to make sure that you’ve done your research. This indicates to us your level of attention to detail and commitment – traits that we look favourably upon at the GSA. Film might be your thing but it doesn’t work when it comes to general theatre auditions. We’ve experienced way too many Marlon Brando impressions for our liking so steer clear!

We tend to see the same audition pieces over and over again and there’s good reason for that. Some stand the test of time better than others. However, to ensure that your contemporary monologue isn’t being performed to the audition panel for the fifth time that day, consider doing a piece of new writing from a play that you have seen and enjoyed recently. Consider something from Fishamble’s ‘Tiny Plays for Ireland’ or from the Rough Magic SEEDs programme. Don’t be shy about approaching the production companies if you wish to read a script of a play that has already been staged but has yet to be published. There is a lot of goodwill amongst the theatre community and they will take it as a compliment that you want to use their material for an audition. Another useful source is the Irish Playography website – http://www.irishplayography.com/
So you’ve chosen your monologues, read the plays inside out and could probably deliver an hour long seminar to PhD candidates. Now to test it on a willing faux panel! Ask your drama teacher, your English teacher (if you’re still in school) or a fellow thespian to watch you rehearse; or even enroll on a Casting & Audition Masterclass. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect.

One of the vital elements of your audition is your voice. The panel need to be able to hear you so it is essential that you are clear and articulate in your delivery. We run regular Voice Masterclasses throughout the year, facilitated by tutors on our Two Year Full Time Professional Actor Training Programme, where you will learn how to regulate your breathing and ground yourself. And use your own accent. It can detract from your performance if your ‘Noo Yawk’ accent is terrible. Same goes for a Shakespearean monologue.

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Movement and gesture may be fundamental when it comes to embodying the character fully but stillness can be just as powerful. Think about how the character might move. Use movement wisely and naturally. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing an actor walk erratically around a room, head bent, when the character calls for a performance that should be centre stage and directed outwards.

Be flexible. You may be asked to perform your monologue in a different tone or directed at one of the panel members. You will need to be able to think on your feet so don’t get locked into performing your pieces just one way. Play with the words, play with the gestures, play with the blocking.

Following your audition, the panel will want to learn more about you, the person. How passionate are you about acting, theatre, the Arts? When did you last see a play? Why choose the Gaiety School of Acting? Why train? They want to get a sense of your commitment to the craft, your openness to learn, to understand your motivation to become an actor and your ambition to create.

You have 15 minutes to shine. Energy, preparedness and adaptability will help you over the line. That and good old raw talent. Think of it as a performance with a captive audience. Try to remember the panel are real people too and they want you to succeed. And most importantly, enjoy the experience and the lifetime of opportunities it may bring.

Book your audition for the Gaiety School of Acting Full-Time Actor Training Programme Here.

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Karen Lee, Full-Time & International Programme Coordinator

 

Thespian Toddlers at the GSA

It will be no surprise to most parents these days to hear how important play is to a child’s early development. Through play, small children and babies explore their world, develop key motor skills and generally wiggle and giggle their way towards becoming social beings.  A toddler doesn’t merely like the look of bubbles as they dance above his head; his brain is marvelling at how and why this magic works! Your baby is not just throwing a ball at your head to make you squeal (no, but it IS a happy coincidence) she’s also discovering how to wrap her paw around this enticingly round object and, just like that a flick of the arm propels it through the air! By making your mud pies in the back garden, your kids are mimicking your coffee dates and dinner parties, copying all those little social interactions, and in doing so are rehearsing for a lifetime of their own.

Parent & Toddler 3What some parents DO need reminding of is that you are your little one’s first play partner and a Parent & Toddler class is the ideal environment in which to jump-start your playful side! A Parent & Toddler class is all about fun, togetherness and leaving the inhibitions of the grown-up world at the door, and so it is fitting that drama should be the medium for this. Whether you are a primary school kid in a school pageant or an octogenarian actor treading the boards of the National Theatre, drama is in essence playful. Communication through the arts is acknowledged as part of the Department of Education’s Early Education Programme – Aistear. Aistear encourages children to learn, question and explore their own identity through drama, music and the visual arts and as such, toddler drama classes give your child a head start on what is now an integral part of Montessori and Primary school curriculums nationwide.
In Parent & Toddler Drama your child will get physical exploring movement, develop language skills through simple rhymes and story-telling and spark their imagination and little brain cells on a multi-sensory level through colour, touch and sound. Perhaps even more importantly they’ll love seeing Mammy and Daddy acting silly, laughing and doing all those crazy things it’s not always easy to find time to do. And yes, you’ll love it too!

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Parent & Toddler Drama starts 16th January from 10am-11am at The Gaiety School of Acting in Temple Bar. Term 3 kicks off on April 16th. €100 for the term and bookings can be made at 016799277 or at gaietyschool.com

This article was originally published in Easy Parenting Magazine’s Feb/March issue.

Fingal Film Festival 2016 Open for Submissions

As the dust settles on the 2015 event the dedicated team at Fingal Film Festival announces the opening of their 2016 submissions. The end of this year sees the beginning of the submission process for the fifth instalment of Fingal Film Festival’s annual event, which will take place in the month of September 2016.

As we recover from a successful 2015 event, the Festival team are preparing for what promises to be the best year so far with bigger awards, a host of amazing guest speakers and a load of other surprises that will be announced, as the team roll out its full schedule over the next six months.Our 2015 event saw bigger screening and workshop attendances, proving that the Fingal Film Festival is the best Independent Festival to have your work seen by large audiences and is a fantastic platform for emerging filmmakers from Ireland and abroad says Liz Kenny, the Festivals Managing Director.

Our focus for 2016 is to create a Festival that is diverse in content, offering and interactive experience with filmmakers and cinemagoers alike during next year’s event says Creative Director Dave Byrne. A challenge I and the team are looking forward to says Dave.
As part of the centenary celebrations in 2016, the festival will be dedicating a slot in the schedule for all subjects relating to the 1916 Rising. Any filmmakers creating content in any of the mediums screened at the festival is encouraged to submit for possible inclusion in the Fingal Film Festival 2016.

The opening of the Festival’s submissions for 2016. The categories are as follows:

  • Animation
  • Irish Language
  • International Films
  • Short Films
  • Documentaries
  • Feature Films
  • Student Films
  • Fingal Newcomer Media Award – (Director / Writer / Producer / DOP ( Living in Fingal Area) )
  • Outstanding Achievement in Media Award – (Director / Writer / Producer / DOP / Journalist ) This award will be given to any filmmaker who breaks new ground in any of the categories or creates a new way of storytelling.

For more information on how to submit your film, please visit http://www.fingalfilmfest.com or email us at pr@fingalfilmfest.com

10 Theatre Superstitions for Friday the 13th

This Friday the 13th will you be spotted dodging black cats? Will you be caught hunting out a second magpie to pair with that first mischievous one that flies into your eyeline? Going out of your way to avoid walking under a ladder perhaps?
Friday the 13th, along with all elements related to that dastardly number 13 is traditionally seen as an unlucky day. Millions are lost annually across the global economy on this day due to superstitious folk refusing to fly, make big business deals or buy property. Similar to the way many hotels omit a thirteenth floor and how additional numbers were tacked onto the end of car registrations in Ireland in 2013, generally even rational minded folks don’t like to take risks when it comes to potential bad luck.
Those who work in theatre are particularly superstitious, with a long list of serious “Don’ts” in existence that you should bear in mind when working on a play, no matter what day it may be.

Break a Leg

Wondering why your good luck wish was met with a killer death stare? In this eccentric realm of theatre it is bad luck to wish good luck. “Break a Leg” is deemed a more acceptable salutation – the origin of which is said to come from the act of bowing at the curtain call (you bend your knee or “break a leg” to do so).

Ghost light

Do you dare take the risk of suffering the wrath of a ghost? Well keep on their good side by leaving them a light to perform their own plays under, during the dead of the night. Many theatres will keep a single bulb lighting on stage so as not to hinder paranormal performances.
The presence of ghosts is also cited as a reason for closing the theatre one night a week – not to give the actors a rest, but rather to give those spirits their time to shine!

Whistle while you work – at your peril.

In the mid-seventeenth century theatres really began to up their game with the appearance of more elaborate set pieces. With the advent of this came the need for ample bodies to rig them out – quite often sailors fit the bill, and with them came their sea-faring habits. As on a ship the sailors would communicate in the theatre through whistling, thus if any unsuspecting actor crosses the stage whistling, they could find a set-piece flying in their direction. Now that’s bad luck if ever I heard it.

There’s no money in theatre (or jewellery for that matter).

It is thought to be unlucky to use real money or jewellery on the stage. Hence the term “Costume Jewellery”. There are a few theories as to why, with the leading one being that it began to prevent theft from the prop table!

Bad Dress, Great Opening.

Whether the theory of a bad dress rehearsal foretelling a good opening night is reverse psychology or not, this is one theatre superstition that has been bandied about for years.

You don’t give me Flowers

It’s considered unlucky to give an actor flowers before the show opens – one must always hold off until the end. The theory behind this one is that the flowers have yet to be earned.

Knock me down with a feather…

In one of the more obscure theatrical superstitions, some people believe that peacock feathers should never be brought on stage as a costume or a prop. Many veteran actors and directors have chilling tales of sets collapsing and other such events during performances with peacock feathers. Luckily it hasn’t had a negative effect on one of our much loved Dublin performance spaces – The Peacock.

Avoid the Blues.

It is considered to be bad luck to wear the colour blue onstage – this stems from how expensive is was to make blue clothers in the early days of costume.

Strange Bedfellows…

This could be seen as an act of desperation rather than a superstition.  Can sleeping with a script under your pillow help you learn your lines faster? Although it most certainly doesn’t feature on the Gaiety School of Acting curriculum, age old theatrical superstition stands by this technique of line-learning.

The Scottish Play 

Need we say more – the title of this famous Shakespearean play must NEVER be uttered in a theatre!

We asked our Gaiety School staff what superstitions they adhere to in theatre or otherwise.  

Patrick Sutton, director of the school, will never place new shoes on a table and abides by the “no whistling in a theatre” rule.

Karen Lee, Coordinator, would religiously wear earphones right up until the curtain is raised.  Initially a practicality to block out the noise of the audience grew into a ritual!

Leanna Cuttle, Coordinator, never EVER puts an umbrella up inside and will not walk under a ladder if she can avoid it.

Happy Friday the 13th – and if you have a show opening (on a Friday?  Dear god no, never on a Friday, it’s bad luck.) break a leg!

Halloween – The most wonderful time of the year for an actor, or a bus man’s holiday?

When considering this question, I cast my mind back to the last time I received an invitation to a Murder Mystery Party. I responded with an unbridled enthusiasm that delighted and unnerved the party host in equal parts. “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Who’s my character, what’s my angle – the theme? Goldrush America? Love it, someone do up my corset there!” Now, not that I’m an actor per se, more one with a penchant for the theatrical, but seemingly my over eager RSVP was glaringly set apart from the other terrified guests who couldn’t cope with the role-play and could barely endure the silly costumes.
Is Halloween the same as that mid-April Murder Mystery Birthday Party? I would venture to say no. This holiday that revolves around the donning of grotesque and glamorous get-ups, seems to be considerably less intimidating and far more palatable for the general public. Maybe, it’s the fact most people have been dressing up to traipse the streets of a cold evening in October since childhood? Or most likely it’s the reassurance that, even if you are trussed up in the most ridiculous of Bananas in Pyjamas costumes, you are still allowed to go about your business – no character, no role play, no fuss. And even then, for some out there with the more conservative day job, there is no doubt a slight thrill in embracing the ridiculous, slapping on the face-paint and unleashing the silliness that I am certain dwells deep within us all.
So while actors are certainly more accustomed to costumes, it being an integral part of their trade – are they then the opposite? When you spend your life in various forms of “dressing up” is Halloween merely a bus-man’s holiday? This article showcases celebrity costumes through the years and seems to offer evidence to the contrary (it also is great for ideas for those of you struggling!), with many from the acting profession going all out in honour or the season of spook.
We’d love to hear what you think – is Halloween a time to up your game in the costume stakes, or will you be allowing the non-actor types the time to shine?

Image from Cirque De Reves, Showing at Smock Alley Theatre until the 31st of October.

Experiencing Visual Arts – Performing Arts in Museum Education

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An article by Dr Anna Kadzik-Bartoszewska

Educate and Outreach Coordinator

The Gaiety School of Acting


Over the last years art museum educators have adopted on interdisciplinary approach by encouraging the youngest visitors to study art through literature, music, and drama.

Irish museums joined this approach very actively too and for many the educational programmes increased the foot fall. Museums are fighting for their place in education and for this reason our team showcased two workshops meant to emphasise the effectiveness of both performing arts and visual arts.

As today’s understanding of education do not highlight the result but the skills, the activities, the experience and the creative potential leading to the result; timing in museums gains importance and education activities must be exploratory and experiential (Atagok,1999) . Having this in mind we have started creating two workshops in association with The Chester Beatty Library.   The aim of the first workshop Ancient Noh Theatre in a Modern World Noh Theatre Workshop for the Teens Club (CBL) was to use drama to foster better understanding and appreciation of artefacts in display in The Chester Beatty Library. The combination of both drama-methods and artefacts as being an inspiration for the story line meant engaging participants in reconstructing, with their own interpretations, of historical events, stories and narratives. The artefacts set the stage and drama gave students the opportunity to actively participate in imagined worlds.  This approach effectively engaged participants and planted a curiosity in culture, art and history. Each group of participants was in charge of devising monologues for different characters, giving the mini play a setting of symbolic value and selecting a song to reflect the theme. In the final section of the workshop the groups performed their originally devised modern Noh theatre piece to each other.  The outcome was amazing and even the coordinators started interacting and having fun. Theatre elements helped participants to deeply understand ethnic and cultural values embedded in the museum’s artefacts and highly contributed to the aesthetic education of young people. Noh theatre was facilitated by Seamus Quinn.

Another workshop the Rama and Sita- Radio play was created for the younger group of 6-12 yrs. The idea was to use storytelling to bring Rama and Sita’s tale to life through creative writing and music. The participants at first were working on developing characters inspired by the story,  then they were creating their own soundscape with musical instruments and based on the images in the Library collection  were creating their very own costume for inspirational purposes. Facilitated by Kate Canning.

All participants were fully engaged and inspired by the story, they created a memorable piece a radio play that is now available on www.cbl.ie

The major goal for the above workshops, designed and carried out by the outreach department The Gaiety School of Acting, was to draw attention to the importance of teaching by using drama-methods in museums, to emphasize the effective and diverse use of museums for education but also to encourage other museums for such proactive initiatives.  Art offers alternative and stimulating pathways of learning and promotes aesthetic knowledge (Langer 1954) which in turn encourages intuitive understanding, hence forming the grounds for the evaluation and realization of our place in the world (Bruner 1979, 1990, Reid 1986).

In the last ten years Ireland has transformed from a traditional mono-cultural society to a more modern multicultural one. Many international settlers have arrived and the social and economic landscape has changed radically. Ireland has been undergoing its biggest demographic change since the famine.

As a result there is a particular responsibility on the educational system to embrace and empower the next generation and prepare it to take place in a radically diverse and new Ireland. As visitors of museums are not a uniform group the museum curriculum should address differentiated audiences through research into their needs (Hooper-Greenhill 2000: 29)

Interdisciplinary projects can help the younger generation in reconstructing their own ever-changing cultural identities of places which are under enormous change day by day. Both projects effectively encouraged participants to study art exhibits in their cultural context through drama. Instead of visiting like a spectator only, the young museum visitors interacted with items on display in the fictional world.  The dramatic fiction helped to develop multiple histories and cultural identities. Museums with rich artefacts inside them set the stage for understanding culture, art and history, therefore interdisciplinary educational approach would especially be useful for the teachers and museum educators. We should make better use of our museums and drama for educational purposes.

Female Actor wanted for Dental Video – includes free dental treatment!

A dental practice in Dublin 4 would like to make a video showing the benefit of their dental treatment.

They will offer free dental treatment – preferably veneers or crowns for the woman starring in the video.

It’s a 3 minute short with accelerated view of the difference made by the new dental treatment.

Example of a similar video can be seen here: http://www.faverowimpoleclinic.com/videos.html

For further information please contact: Barbara@mprstack.com

Closing Date: 20th June

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