An Intensive Weekend on the Applied Theatre MA – OurWarwick

An Intensive Weekend on the Applied Theatre MA

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The term “Weekend Intensive” may seem like an unusual parenthesis for your typical, weekend – thriving, duvet- covered student.  To be up and about at silly o’clock for vigorous activity on no -alarm permission granted days may be a daunting concept for the academic. However, don’t let this put you off!

I stumbled into the first workshop late and red-faced, spluttering excuses. Expecting to be tutted and sighed at, with past experiences of a renowned “late-girl,” I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by the kindest set of cohort smiling back at me. “That is the best reason to be late ever!” charmed Dr. Anne Smith and everyone laughed and “ahhed” with enthusiasm. It felt as though I had landed into a hammock of empathy which washed away all my pre-conceived angst about the “intensity” that was to come.

Anne Smith from Creative English led a workshop fuelled with play, laughter, chit chat and crafts. The heart of her practice is that learning can only be truly achieved when relaxed and having fun. We played group games, did some role play in gobbledigook and told the story of George and the Dragon with puppets we’d crafted and costumes.

The morning with Anne whizzed by, and we were soon onto the next workshop with Richard Hayhow from Open Theatre. This was filled with all the joys of dancing, music and making mistakes! Open Theatre’s speciality is bringing out the best out in people through celebrating what it is to be human. They do a lot of work with neurodivergent young people, so use diverse methods of communication, with emphasis on physical over verbal.

It was a lot of fun warming up to funky music and copying Richard’s long, lanky limbed moves; celebrating individual quirks of the moving body can be very amusing! Have you ever tried to draw a circle with one hand and a square with the other in the air at the same time? Are you trying it now? If not, give it a go and maybe film yourself; or watch a friend do it. Exercises like these reveal things about people that you wouldn’t notice by simply talking to them. Our unique nuances are often revealed in the way we react to tasks; the way someone’s mouth might tense, head tilt, brows fray, tip of tongue out etc. This is the gold dust that Open Theatre uses to communicate with participants, aka the “space-in-between.”

After a day of laughter, fun and games, I left feeling so much lighter than I did when I arrived in an anxious, apologetic frenzy and was looking forward to what the Sunday intensive had in store.

The morning kicked off with freelance arts pracitioner, Tony Ceally whose done a lot of work with Youth Offenders. He offered advice about what to consider when working with participants who will try and make a workshop facilitator’s life challenging. And, how a facilitator should check their own resistance to certain tasks and try to get to know what’s going on with participants beneath the surface. We played group games to help with team work and challenging impulses, ending with an exercise involving a huge, co-created interactive map of an imaginary community in which all his participants over the years had marked.

The final stretch was led by Tamsin Larby from Tender. The organisation works with young people to prevent unhealthy relationships. The main emphasis was on what it means to give consent at each and every stage of any relationship. This was evident from the beginning of the workshop as we established what it was that we needed and wanted from others in the space before delving into the heavy and beautiful subject matter of relationships.

 After hearing the statics for young people who have reported cases of sexual abuse, I was astounded at how many cases go unnoticed. It is devastating to know how much sexual abuse and domestic violence happens throughout the UK and worldwide because there is so little information out there that talks about the signs to watch out for. I think it is imperative to signpost Tender’s incredible work for those of you out there who might be concerned for yourself or someone else:

 Home – Tender | Acting to end abuse

To end on a cheerier note, a key theme that chimed with all the applied theatre practitioners during the intensive was their desire to empower the people. They are all still learning to know how and what they can do to adjust their practice to make partipcants feel as comfortable and involved as possible. This again is all about working with partipcants, as opposed to for them. This is what I love about learning about the feild of applied theatre; being on the ground with other humans. I think it’s easy to forget the importance of care in the serious world of ‘professionalism’ and ‘expertise’, but in applied theatre, we are all actively encouraged to empower the people.

An Intensive Weekend on the Applied Theatre MA

Theatre and PerformanceRunning SwimmingWalkingWarwickshireArtsCookingGardening Puppies!MusicTravelCoffee
Find out more about me Contact Laura

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