Tuesday, 25 March 2014


After spending the whole day watching Pokemon (they've put it up on Netflix, no way I'm missing out on that!), I've decided it was time to write up a blog about my weekend at Aberdeen for Youth Theatre Arts Scotland's Interchange 2014.

It was a weekend packed with workshops and performances and lecturers which were interesting and exciting. I'm just going to talk about each workshops and some of the fantastic people I've met.

The first workshop was led by Paul Gorman called "What Brings You Here - Theatre in an Educational Context" which was fantastic. It was about leading workshops in schools for pupils and teachers. It was something I've never thought about leading workshops for teachers as myself and Ej are planning on leading workshops for primary school kids once my contract finishes for Solar Bear Apprenticeship. Leading a workshop for teachers would be something I'd consider. He did allow us to have that freedom of creating a workshop for teachers and pupils which was fantastic as he got us thinking about it real hard about this. I suggested an exercise which was called "Name the Room" for teachers as it turned the classroom which is dull and boring into an exciting room. This was stolen from Daniel Livingston as we've used the exercise for creating a piece of theatre (the current production we're doing!). This received a praise from Paul and I think, looking at his twitter account, he's stolen the idea! I was a bit proud as I did think that that was the perfect exercise Then he got us to think about the pupils but think about an exercise where it might help them with their subject that they struggle with. We had to think about the subject we hated in our school which was maths. We created a "speed dating" exercise where the Advanced Higher pupils sit on the outside and the standard grade pupils/national qualification pupils sit on the inside. They spend 4 minutes on each table with the advance higher pupils, doing an exercise on a specific subject eg angles, Pythagoras. Once their time is up, they move on to the next table to a different subject. Once they've tackled all of the tables, they identify which subjects is their weaknesses and they go to that table and spend 15 minutes, working on it. This has made me think about my future as a practitioner. Something I want to consider.

The second workshop was run by the fantastic Julia Samuels, "Everybody's Got a Story to Tell... and Their Own Way of Telling it". She is from 20 Stories High and will be bringing her production to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I will definitely be seeing that performance. This was a Verbatim workshop which was something I've touched on previous at Deaf Theatre Skills at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland led by Mona Keeling. It was something I wanted to revisit. We did an exercise where a conversation was recorded between the two people. They then would put the headphones on and do the conversation all over again BUT they had to be the other people and not themselves. This was interesting as myself, Ej and Daniel were all from Solar Bear and we had to do it differently. Daniel was me, Ej was Daniel and I was Ej. I had to copy Ej from her iPad video which was difficult to do. Ej had to pick up from Daniel via the interpreter translation of Daniel (which funnily enough, became a camp moment) and my interview wasn't even recorded! Gutted. What I loved about this workshop was the fact that Julia was open minded and was willing to experiment in the workshop as myself and Ej are deaf. At the end, we created a piece of movement at the end, using the text provided and met Kirsten McCrossan who said to me that she remembers me from a young age and she was a part of South Ayrshire Youth Theatre which was run by dad! I then remembered the performance of "Little Shop of Horrors" which she was in! A blast from the past! It was nice to see her and she runs "Love Drama" which I am interested in observing!

I then went to the karaoke party that night and went back to the hotel at 1 o'clock in the morning and went to Robert Softley Gale's workshop of "Accessible and High Quality - How to Make it Happen". In the workshop, Robert talked about the importance of accessible, high quality theatre. He makes sure that his performances are accessible and what I appreciate is his honesty. Not everyone makes perfect accessible theatre. We did various exercises, referring to making theatre accessible. We did our sign names, talked about barriers and created a piece of accessible performance. I was teamed up with Kirsten McCrossan and we created a visual piece of performance which was a Benny Hill style with music in the background. We had a blast creating that piece and I really enjoyed working with Kirsten. I'm sure it was weird for her to stick post it notes on me as the last time she saw me was when I was 6... She talked about it in her blog and me being cheeky, she described the performance on her blog if you're interested in knowing what was the piece we've created! I've always believed in making theatre accessible for all. I've always focused on making theatre accessible for deaf people and not really explored the audio description for blind people. Robert is the artistic director of Birds of Paradise (alongside Garry Robson) and he directed "Wendy Hoose" which was hilarious, rude and dirty. He did say in his workshop that if you wanted to see the performance, tough as it is sold out! I was lucky enough to see it on Thursday at the Lemon Tree. I couldn't stop laughing. It was great and I would recommend it to you all but it is sold out after all...

Then in the afternoon, I went to Freelancer Toolkit workshop which was led by Lesley Wood. I won't go into too much detail about this workshop as this is more to do with work as a freelancer and what you necessary need. Like insurance, child protection, disabilities act. This helped me as I do have a lot to think about if I was to become a freelancer. I do identify myself as a performer but I want to start thinking about leading workshops in schools and not only do it for pupils but for teachers too. This helped a lot for me and got me thinking about insurances coverage.

It was weird, after attending the National Festival of Youth Theatre (NFYT), I was in Interchange, representing Solar Bear. There is a lot from it I definitely would consider and start thinking about. I attended NFYT as a youth theatre member and now attend Interchange as a member of staff at Solar Bear.

Thank you Youth Theatre Arts Scotland for a thought provoking weekend.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland are handing out scholarship for 5 deaf students who are interested in taking part of Deaf Theatre Skills, a 5 days course for deaf students who are interested in theatre. This is led by Ramesh Mayyappan who is a theatre creator. This is a fantastic opportunity for deaf people who are interested in the course. They offer £400 which means you only get to pay £90 for the course! Don't miss out on the opportunity, deadline on the 1st of May 2014! Hurry up and apply!

http://www.rcs.ac.uk/shortcourses/dramaadults/summerschools/deaftheatre.html - more information, please share!

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