When putting together the teaching materials to hand out to each team of teaching-artists in the Young Playwrights’ Lab program, we’ve learned pretty quickly that a “must-have” is a very large pad of sticky paper, along with the markers, squishy balls for theatre games, and teaching book.
At the end of a program, those pads (with their hand-written gems of idea making and creativity) are a delight for me to look through. I’d like to share some of the process of play-making, the way Touchstone teaches it.
Early in the program we have students create sculptures of each other in a theater exercise developed by Augusto Boal, a Brazilian theater practioner who developed something called “Theatre of the Oppressed.”
It’s a great exercise for folks who don’t easily find ways to express themselves. It allows students to create an image without having to have a clear idea of what it is they are creating when they start. They can see images emerge with each new gesture – and with those images, ideas start to flow.
The teaching artists try to capture those images on paper through rough sketches, and then the students give titles to the sculptures based on what they think it reminds them of, or based on the feeling it gives them. There are no wrong answers, because what something looks like to you is what makes it art.
The sticky pads also show the development of basic theater terms (“setting”) into more than just a vocabulary word. Examples are given:
And expanded upon.
Pretty soon the students see how a basic concept can very simply and very easily be developed into the start of a scene.
And that’s when they are off and running on their own, developing their own ideas, their own imaginations, their own creativity into a scene and then into a whole one-act play.
The results can be seen very soon – at the Young Playwrights’ Festival. The worlds that are created by each playwright are a fascinating look into their creative use of images and ideas into something bigger than they could perhaps have imagined when they began.
Hope you’ll come see the plays and use your own imagination to consider where the image, the idea, the setting, the characters may have first emerged for the young playwrights.
~ Mary Wright, YPL Coordinator