From here to there – R & D continued

December 15, 2009

Explorative Workshops

 On our 2nd day we took 2 mini performances into the nursery to use as a stimulus for the children to play with 2 sets of different objects. We then, in turn, observed their subsequent play.

 1st workshop/performance

The first performance used ‘card’ & involved playing ‘peek a boo’ behind the card and moving the card with abstract sound to create images.  The performance ended with the performer using the card as clothes – trousers and a dress – and dancing to a drum beat. 

Afterwards the children used the card to ‘dress themselves up’ in some cases as ‘super heroes’ or just wrapped themselves entirely in card.  Some children played with the musical instruments to imitate the percussion that the musician had played.

2nd workshop/performance

 The 2nd performance used wooden blocks that we had borrowed from the early year’s unit.  The performer used sound and robotic movements to make a car out of the blocks that he then got in to drive and then transformed the car into an aeroplane.  The children loved guessing what the blocks were becoming!

Afterwards the children played with the blocks individually to recreate cars, planes, skate boards and boats.  Some used other objects to become steering wheels, or cars to race down ramps.  In the end the children had created a long ‘bench’ of blocks where most of the children were using their particular section to drive their individual car or train.  The girls involved the adults in their game of making a boat and enjoyed the shared ‘roleplay’of drawing the adults into their game.

Creating the Performance

 The company then had 2 days to devise a performance piece to take back to Playmates nursery and to an additional nursery – ‘Silkstone preschool’ that had not had access to any of the previous workshops and had no relationship with the artists.

The performance consisted of 3 main ‘elements’ or ‘explorations’:

1st exploration (structured routine): We played with a structured ritual and pushed the scenario to the limit – we did this with very simple and well known daily routines using the wooden boxes – breakfast-time for Noel, and  brushing your teeth for Simone. Their rituals became more and more exaggerated through gesture, vocal play and rhythm until it finally became a percussive musical piece.

 2nd exploration (abstract objects): playing with card as abstract shapes and moving images – a choreography that is born out of competitive play.  This piece used some of the ideas we showed on our ‘workshop’ day at the nursery – but was developed further.

 3rd exploration (narrative scenario): looking at how the wooden boxes and card could be used to make one world!  We created a mini cityscape for this and used puppetry to animate both the scenery and a character within a little story – this was a much less experimental piece and was more narrative driven rather than the first two explorations; but we were interested to see how the children from the full age range connected to the different content and style we gave them within the three varied pieces.

 Participation: At the end of the performance the children were invited to play with the card and wooden boxes that they had seen the performers use.  We deliberately kept this session open ended so as to discover what, if anything, the children had taken from the showing and how that impacted upon their play.

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