Using Drama as a tool for social inclusion
“Art is our last hope”
Drama in schools, Second Edition, Arts Council, England, 2003
Toys are children’s first initiation into art. In particular, drama introduces the child to the theatrical phenomenon. This is not how we teach children theater. We don’t teach them how to become actors and how to pretend …
Dramatic play is a creative event, a playful and fascinating educational process in which children create representations, improvise, build on their bodies as a means of expression and experiment with roles by testing everyday, heroic, imaginative, intimate identities … it is triggered by personal experiences, fantastic events, folk traditions, legends and fairy tales.
In fact, children recognize their personal characteristics, explore their limits and strengths, play and learn to think creatively, take initiative, transcend inhibitions with courage and confidence, creatively convey emotional tensions and ultimately express emotions and thoughts. So, in essence, drama is a way of communicating and expressing oneself and with others and at the same time a way to understand how children perceive the world around them or how they would like the world around them.
Theatrical play in the hands of the teacher can become the means to understand human relationships and their challenges as they are an area of social action. Theatrical education provides a safe framework for teachers / animators who recognize the need to energize their pupils to exploit their potential by developing social skills and enhancing their interpersonal relationships. Their ultimate goal is to develop the skills that will lead children to self-knowledge, autonomy, meaningful connection with others and maturity. The role of the animator / teacher is crucial. Consciously present, he follows the children, accompanies them on the journey of self-discovery, while exploring his own feelings and thoughts, remaining authentic and sincere. When playing with children, he does not solely teach them but experiences the emotions and actions while at the same time transcribing the needs of the team members in an equitable climate.
Theatrical play begins with an occasion (exploiting a random event, a textbook image, a group idea) and then using different forms of theatrical expression (mimodrama, role-playing, improvisation) creates an environment of action and roles are emerging. The Theatrical Game is usually played in four stages:
- Relaxing / Activating the body and the senses:
The teacher can make short-term sensory games, breathing exercises, transformative games to create a climate of trust and reciprocity, with the aim of removing difficulties and personal inhibitions in the communication of team members. Because the teacher is targeting younger students, guided improvisations are used and at some point his reasoning will be instructive.
We smell the wonderful aroma of flowers, trees, grass …
We slowly stretch our bodies as we unfold …
Hearing the sounds of the forest …
The teacher provides a stimulus and children can be divided into groups or individually improvised to develop roles that contribute to the action through interaction. Students prepare, perhaps choose materials they want for their disguises, and present their improvisations using pantomime moves and their reason. At the same time the transformation of space begins, the seat becomes a throne,…
We are the branches of a tree while the wind is blowing …
We are a flock of birds flying over the forest…
- Theatrical action:
A theatrical event is composed and performed with all expressive means put into action (body, word, image) in order for the roles to alternate and develop into a play that swings between the real and the imaginary. It is the stage of stage improvisation in which students are activated to dramatize the story in their own way, wondering about the evolution of events, choosing roles, proposing subsequent action points and presenting them spontaneously.
What are the steps that sound?
How does the protagonist feel?
Which solution do you choose?
Evaluation / Processing / Feedback:
The group can discuss something that has occupied it, express the impressions and feelings that have emerged, and reflect on the involvement of the members in the process and the type of cooperation. The teacher makes his own assessment of the organization of the workshop and the involvement of the students in relation to their goals.
What moments did you enjoy?
What made it more difficult for you?
What could you do differently?
Drama develop skills that the children already have and move them forward to more sophisticated ways of moving, speaking and interacting with others. Drama often works across the curriculum and teachers realise that helps children to learn about a range of subject areas within the lesson; possibly geography, history, personal and social education. Where the children are working in drama to solve a problem of some sort, they will often behave in a ‘grown up’ way using language which is beyond their natural age, as if they are taking on the responsibilities that more often belong to adults.
The ultimate purpose of drama is to contribute to the kinesthetic, emotional and linguistic development of children, to the experiential knowledge of space, to the cultivation of team spirit and climate of confidence, and to the discovery of the body. Students are liberated, rejoiced, entertained and have the opportunity to experiment without limitation: right or wrong, try different perspectives and solutions.
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- Drama in schools, Second Edition, Arts Council, England, 2003