On Monday 20th February, three groups, including ours took part in a dress and technical rehearsal, which was recorded. Due to limitations with recording in primary schools, this will be our final recorded performance.
Here is Olivia and the Disappearing Stories:
My thoughts on the performance at Guildhall Feoffment:
In terms of the performance, I feel that personally, it was one of the better performances for myself as the mother. I have had comments over the past few rehearsals about how the mother is coming across with less warmth and more sarcasm, which was the main piece of feedback for me in the recorded performance above. I thought that there were times where I could have looked out to our young audience more, particularly during scenes with short dialogue. Despite this, I thought that I connected well with the audience whilst telling the story and explaining why reading is so important. I took on advice from previous sessions where I was able to practice connecting with my class, incorporating that into the final performance. I kept eye contact with all of my audience, not leaving anyone out and they all made eye contact with me as well, so I knew they were concentrating. In terms of voice and clarity, I spoke slow and with volume, making sure that I varied the tone of my voice to keep our audience interested.
As a group, despite the off skipping of lines, I feel that it went smoothly, at first I was not anticipating the children to be quiet and put their hands up. This was probably because all of the times we have practised it, we have always had someone calling out the answers. As the piece went on though, the children grew in confidence and shouting out answers. One thing that may have confused them slightly is part of the costumes we created, we had bear and wolf ears for James and by the time he was the bear, they had already seen him as the wolf. In future, we will need to ensure our costumes for each character are very different as when he was the bear, someone called out that he was the wolf. One bit of interaction I felt didn’t work was James asking them who he should kidnap next. This was never part of our script and never rehearsed so we were all shocked when he did this, it is also not in the above recording. I don’t think this worked because his character is the enemy, asking the children who he should kidnap next is encouraging them to be bad and be on his side, which as a group we didn’t want. This was brought up by Lynn and the idea of collusion, which is being able to get them on our side.
Adding the chairs at the side of the set really worked for the performance, it made it run smooth and as each character sat down still, no one took any notice. Instead, they still focused fully on the scenes as it would have been clear that we were not involved at the time.
The workshop we had planned was a game of bingo and getting the children to draw their favourite characters on the back. We anticipated a workshop with around thirty key stage 1 children sat at tables in a classroom. However, although we were in a classroom, they were all sat on the floor and we had the workshop to a reception class of sixty. This was already an issue as we had written words on the bingo sheets, but they were unable to read at their age. This meant we had to problem solve on the spot, instead, they paired up with the person sitting next to them and when we called out a name, we spelt it out instead. This worked and they were able to work out what we were spelling out and crossed out the correct one. Although we were able to get around this, this taught me to always have a backup plan in case something does not go to plan. We talked afterwards and discussed that we could have had pictures of the characters instead of the words, this would make it more attractive to look at and would be easier to work through for classes of their age. We also didn’t do the drawing activity, instead, we asked them what their favourite characters were, which I felt was a success. Some of them said characters from the piece but others spoke about books I hadn’t heard of before, which others may not have heard of but can now look at, for example, Disco Kitchen. A final activity we carried out was one which Erica created, she started the workshop as we got lost trying to find the class. Each time a specific character from the performance was mentioned, they had to complete an action. They still remembered this at the end of the workshop, even though a teacher told us that they would have probably forgotten. I felt positive that they remembered this as hopefully, we were able to complete a lasting impact.
In conclusion, although I felt the performance went really well, I think that the workshop didn’t particularly go to plan. However, we were able to work around that, still looking confident whilst carrying it out and interacting well with the children, who were all eager to take part.
Feedback from Conservatoire EAST Tutors:
One piece of feedback which links to something I mentioned above was the use of the chairs. According to Erica, placing the chairs where they were made all of the difference to our piece, it lifted it and gave it more depth, allowing it to really become a show acceptable to take on tour to primary schools.
Before performing our piece, we were able to watch the previous performance by Musical Theatre, ‘Martin’s Amazing Paintings’. Before this performance started, we had the opportunity to assemble our set, so when it was our turn, we could quickly move our set and start in good time. It was commented that watching the previous performance helped us relaxed, which was shown in our individual performance. I would agree with this, I felt that I was really able to calm down seeing how the audience reacted and overall, felt much more comfortable during our performance. The fact that we had our set already assembled meant that it was also a smooth transition between the Musical Theatre’s performance and ours, so when our audience entered, we could start straight away.
For lines and our voices, overall, Erica felt that despite the skipping of lines between Tinkerbell and Olivia, we did very well on this aspect, which I would agree with.
Lynn also had positive comments about our piece, telling us that she felt that there was a successful balance between good and bad in the piece, with the wolf being able to make that balance.
There were areas that both tutors felt that we could have improved on, one of them was interacting with the audience and asking them questions. For me, the only issue was when Lou as Little Red asked the audience which story the two bears came from, as they struggled to answer. I thought Lou got through this well, giving them hints about Goldilocks being a character in the story. Lynn told us that we could have spread the question out to others before giving a large hint.
We need to be more careful with the language we use in the script in future, one example given to us by Lynn was the use of the word “defeat”. Especially with reception kids, they might not know what that word means, so using it twice in the script may have confused some of them slightly. However, on this note, I was surprised that someone was able to give a thorough explanation on what “captured” meant, Lou was able to take that on and use it to carry on.
One comment made by Erica on how we could have improved was to move the whole piece further forwards. Our performance space was large which meant that because we performed at the back of the stage, there was a large space in the hall. This didn’t really affect our performance though but looking back, it would have been good to have used up more of the space.
In conclusion, overall, we received much positive feedback along with some areas of improvement which we can take on board for the future. The responses from the children during the show and the workshop indicated to me that they enjoyed the performance and although our workshop was to children who may not be able to read, we definitely encouraged them and helped them learn, which is what we wanted to do.
Here are images of the performance at Guildhall Feoffment: