“Note to Self” – Day 1

Today was the first day of the Note To Self puppetry and music creative development. The day was beautifully sunny, the music kids turned up all smiles and brimming enthusiasm (all a good few centimetres taller than the last time I saw them), and the puppeteer children (the ‘imps’ as they are known in the project storyboard) were wide-eyed and ready to work.

We spent the first part of the morning warming up, playing games, getting to know each other. We worked with names and rhythms, then TP (project musician) led some body percussion work, dividing us into two groups to build some more complex rhythms. Next, AM (puppeteer) set up a game called the Hot Seat, where a box was placed in the middle of the space that was ‘not allowed to be unoccupied’. The group had to run to sit on the seat, say something about themselves, then run off again, vacating the seat for someone else. The game encourages quick thinking and responses, but also gives insight into the characters in the group. Lastly there were some tasks focusing on teamwork and awareness of the whole group in the space, making physical shapes (eg. one big triangle, or a long line in order of height), without talking to anyone or giving anyone instructions.

Following this, we divided into two groups. TP and I took the music group out to the verandah to develop some ‘travelling music’, while LL (director) and AM worked with the Imps. The music ideas came very quickly. This group of young musicians is very experienced in music-devising and performance-making, so they know how to make offers, hear each others’ offers, respond to direction or suggestions for arranging the material. We build up an energetic, bubbling piece, followed that up with a much heavier, ‘tired’ piece of travelling music, and then in the last ten minutes created an arrangement of the ‘Note To Self’ theme that T and I wrote during the audition workshops for puppeteers.

The young musicians are all part of the MSO ArtPlay Graduate Ensemble.

In the afternoon we brought the two groups together and put the music and movement work on the floor. Serendipitously, the lengths were pretty much right, and very little adjustment was needed.

At the end of the first day, I reflected on what a valuable experience this kind of project is for the kids. They work incredibly hard – they need to be focussed, and imaginative, and disciplined. The work gets explored, then set, then rehearsed. We have an age range of 7 years to 15 years!

But it is an incredibly authentic experience for them of genuine theatre-making. The kinds of questions and challenges we are putting to them are the same that would be put to an adult group, or a professional ensemble. The work that we create is being tested and probed with rigour. They wait when they are required to wait, they might be cued at a moment’s notice. And at the end of the day, they have been active creative participants in a new piece of theatre. It’s a rich experience for them, I think.


1 comment so far

  1. […] about the weeklong puppetry project here: Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day […]

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