Only a small group today, just the six of us. And I had been cautioned that numbers might be down, because Ramadan had begun. But, for the first time, all five were people who had been before. This was partly down to the success of the WhatsApp group I have set up, in reminding people it was on, but they still don’t need to come if they don’t want. Even more encouraging, from a personal point of view, is that I know everyone’s name. Seeing it written down helps to fix it in my memory.
The stimulus for the class was “doors”. We did a little bit of mime work on door opening, but then used that to springboard into them coming up with their own ideas. We do an awful lot of the old drama lesson staple of: be given a starting point, discuss it, rehearse it, perform it, working in small groups, but actually it works very well. They enjoy watching each other perform, and, rather than the potential vicious circle of a negative reaction to a performance leading to a loss of confidence, the opposite happens – they can see others appreciating their work, and their confidence grows.
What is starting to happen is that, rather than just going through acting exercises, they are starting to originate and create short scenes. Which show real dramatic flair. One of the reasons I love what I do is that, when it goes well, I spend so much of my time being enormously entertained. And when the participants are just starting to see what is possible, and show a great sense of comedy, I get to laugh as well.
One incident in particular: we had been working on using a door to open a scene – somebody comes in, confronts the person who is in the room, about… whatever they like. One group, Jaime and Aisha, were just about to start their performance when another young man, Amani, joined the class. I was encouraging him to sit and watch the performance when Jaime took charge, had a quick word of explanation, and then instantly included him in the scene. Which was, incidentally, about Jaime entering, berating Aisha for her sloppy work, comparing her with the model employee Amani (duly typing away in a suitably diligent manner) and then finally firing her. All great.
Slightly awkward finish to the sessions when, coffee and cake being provided, I was reminded it was Ramadan, so only Jaime and I could participate (though Ali took some cake for later.)