From the start of this school year, Kensington students will expand their knowledge and their skills with three new subjects: Dance, Public Speaking and Drama. Three areas that are connected and with two of them being taught in a new classroom, the Drama & Dance studio. These subjects introduce children into the world of performing arts and help them acquire a wide set of skills. “They will help them be better in life”– states Miss Parisa Salahshourian, Drama teacher in Y4-Y6. At the beginning of this term, she explains to us how her subject contributes to these competencies, and how children are going to gain them.
Lights, camera, action!
The objective of Drama is to get the children familiarized with theatre as a craft, rather than as a game, to make them move from the make-believe situations when playing with friends to actual work within a theatrical context. Therefore, the first thing to do is help them understand what theatre is and what it means to have it as part of their curriculum. “It’s not break or playtime”, clarifies the teacher.
They have started by doing some improvisation work to get them to feel more comfortable. “A lot of them haven’t set foot in a theatre. We have to introduce them to a culture of theatre, teach them how to be on stage and how to be an audience, too”, she explains.
Children are doing a lot of improvisations, to help them not feel so self-conscious about being watched or being laughed at, something that starts to happen at these ages. “The idea is to get rid of it, so they can loosen up. I will keep doing these kinds of activities with them until October, when we will start to do some actual scene work”, says Miss Parisa.
Her idea is to do a small performance before Christmas and, ideally, a big one in May or June. “It depends on logistics and covid protocol, but if we are able to bring parents to the auditorium, we could perform some scene work for them, even if it’s not a complete play”.
Improvisation, teamwork, and imagination
Drama students do fun activities, such as a game called “Make the shape”. They gather in four groups of approximately seven people, and Miss Parisa tells them to create different objects with their bodies, such as flowers or animals. “They practice fast-thinking, improvisation, teamwork, and they expand their imagination, which will help them when they are on stage”.
Thanks to the screen that is placed in this new room, the teacher can display videos and music to carry out specific activities. For instance, last week, the students of Year 5 watched a video in which a Year-6-boy from America was singing in a group with other children. “He was the only one going for it and acting it out, while the rest were very shy”, describes Miss Parisa. “I wanted to show them the freedom of not caring about other people’s opinions. The best artist is the one that works solely for joy”. Later, the teacher asked the students to sing a song and do it as freely as possible. “At first there was shyness, and some panicked, but quite a lot of them really wanted to do it. As a result, more and more of them got into it and some really cool things came out”.
A new and exciting project
The new studio is elongated, big and long enough for the number of children that need to fit in, but not too big, so teachers can control and guide the class. The floor is even, prepared for Dance classes, and it has some benches and chairs. The room is ready, and so are the teachers and the children that enjoy the new subjects taught there.
“I’m really excited, all the schools should have Theatre as part of their curriculum”, defends the Drama teacher. “Drama, Dance and Public Speaking are extremely connected. They are going to help students acquire transferable skills that will be useful for them on stage but also in other facets of their life”.
For example, dancing and rehearsing a play can help them feel more confident, work in teams and create bonds with people, and be able to speak in meetings or conferences in front of a big audience when they are older. “These life skills are useful for them if they choose to follow a career in performing arts and also if they don’t”, insists Miss Parisa. “They help them to be better in life and be able to do things more easily and with more joy.”