I wasn’t in our group session for TIE as I was attending my annual casting audition with the National Youth Theatre of GB, however while I was travelling to and from my audition I made a series of notes and thoughts on our devised Theatre In Education Show, paying careful attention to any improvements we could make and how we could do this.
Over the weekend I engaged in a conversion with my mum about our show so far, particularly focusing on the learning content in the show (as my mother is a primary school teacher in year 1, which is the age group we aimed our TIE performance at). It was during this conversation that a few problems arose regarding important things that we perhaps should have included, from a learning view point, and also questions as to whether certain words used were age appropriate for our target audience.
The first query was something I was very reluctant to agree with, as quite frankly I couldn’t see the severity of the issue, however my mum seemed to think the Shape Collector being labelled the ‘Evil Shape Collector’ wasn’t appropriate, as the word ‘Evil’ has very harsh and horrible connotations that would upset children that young. I tried to argue that lots of children’s characters were called ‘Evil’ in stories, however according to her they were usually titled ‘Wicked’, ‘Horrid’, ‘Greedy’ or other descriptive words. From my point of view I couldn’t see the difference in the tone or severity of the chosen word, and was reluctant to change this due to the name being the centre of lots of jokes and events in the plot of our story. Mum suggested that she asked around the teachers at her school as to what their opinions on the matter was which should help us come to a group decision as to whether we take action on this. I also will conduct my own personal research into whether I can find any examples of the word being used to describe a character in other stories aimed at that age group.
The next topic was about the 3D shapes the children learn about in Year 1 and how this is usually taught. She explained that shapes such as Cylinders, and cones are as important to learn about as Cubes and Spheres, and are often a lot more confusing for children to understand, as they are not just made up of one type of 2D shape. Therefore I think it would be sensible to add in a bit of writing where we explain these shapes as well and focus on the shapes they are made up of; for example a cylinder is made up from two 2D circles and one rectangle which is curved round to create a tube shape – which is obviously quite complex and difficult to comprehend. It also then makes less of a jump in difficulty when we go from explaining how a cube is made to how a pyramid is made and hopefully will reduce the risk of overwhelming the children. I am yet to share the ideas of the addition of material with the rest of the group, however I am planning to raise this in the next rehearsal and explain the benefits of adapting the script to meet the demand of the audience and responding to this first hand research. I’m hoping that if I write a short bit of script and bring it to the rehearsal the group may be more inclined to agree and accept my proposal of adding this, as hopefully they’ll have the reassurance that it only means making small changes and will help the overall piece achieve what we wanted and meet the demands of our audience.