Monday, 8 September 2014

The Power Of One Word


First thing Monday morning. Kids drag their feet into class. The lesson drags by as kids half sleep, half interact. By the time they've left they're just waking up, but too little too late. Right?


This morning The Advanced Performance Works class arrived ready to work, full of enthusiasm and energy and the lesson exploded into the week.

In our last session together we had been working on performance without words, in a session titled The Power Of Nothing. At the end of the session I launched our next task, The Power Of One Word, with an interesting social experiment. It went something like this:

Students were asked to each select a picture from a set of stimulus photos and attach one word to said picture. These pictures I get from a fantastic resource which is The Big Picture. They then present this picture and the spoken word to the group then lay it down in front of them. Then the experiment bit, (something I had never tried before but worked pretty well) was that I asked students to stand next to the photo they though the group should take forwards into the next part of the exercise, which would be to devise a scene based upon the image. Students could stand next to their own if they wanted, or move to another that inspired them more. 

Once students had selected for the first time, (a spread of a group next to one image and then a couple of individuals who had stayed with their own) I then asked the students to re-evaluate their choice to try to come to a group agreement. After a few re-evaluations students started to gather into two groups and from that point on didn't look like agreeing further. My original plan had been that the students would work in one large group, but as they had divided equally and organically into two groups, I changed my plan and let them continue like this.

- 'Brainwash'

- 'Abandoned'

Now in this morning's class and with the chosen stimuli in hands, I set the students to task- to create a short performance inspired by their image, in which they were allowed to speak only one word. They therefore had to choose carefully a new word which would have the maximum impact. It also encouraged them to think about the other elements of performance, in the absence of text, such as eye contact, movement, silence, lighting, music,  and to think carefully about the timing of the speaking of the word, given that it could only be said once.

In just 20 minutes, students were able to create absolutely gripping performances inspired by their chosen image. The words absolutely were powerful especially in the context of otherwise wordless performances, and the rest of the material was rich and delivered with commitment and focus.
In response to the 'Brainwash' photo, students spoke the word "Why?"

In response to the 'Abandoned' photo, students spoke the word "Next."

Not bad for a Monday morning...


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