Acting students create performances to inspire young people
Performing Arts students at South Essex College have produced engaging performances to raise emotional health awareness.
The students, who are studying Level 3 Performing Arts (Acting) at the College’s Southend Campus, have worked in groups to each produce 10-minute performances.
The students, part of the College’s Nu.Dynamic Theatre Company, were tasked to prepare performances to raise awareness around the subject of emotional health and will showcase their productions at local schools in December.
It is part of a collaborative project which was set up ten years ago by South Essex College tutor Sarah Doney, Margaret Evans and Lisa Holloway from Southend Council, and PC Gary Collard.
Each play uses physical theatre and original devised stories to inform the audience about emotional health and where they can go for support and guidance.
The students’ plays look at subjects such as bullying, social media, body image and other important topics.
Last year the students performed to more than 5,000 young people, they received excellent feedback from schools with regards to the quality of the plays and the professional behaviour of the students.
Tutor Gavin Bell said the project is both rewarding and creative which benefits the community, using the arts to engage young people in important themes.
He said: “Theatre can play such an important role in education. The College’s Nu.Dynamic Theatre Company has been highly professional and creative using storytelling, physical theatre and narrative to produce emotive stories in order to highlight issues relating to emotional health and the dangers of social media.
“It’s vital that young aspiring actors experience the demands of the industry – our students have risen to the challenge.”
Nu.Dynamic Theatre Company students will be touring in primary, junior and additional needs schools on Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 December.
To find out about performing arts courses at the College, visit www.southessex.ac.uk
I am Enough
This production, targeted towards pupils in school years five and six, focuses on two main characters, one who is academically able and a second who struggles with their studies. Despite their different abilities, they both have one thing in common, they are both teased for either being a ‘smarty-pants’ or ‘stupid.’ The students have used this theme to emphasise the fact that everyone has their own way of learning and will excel in different things. They wanted to make those who may be struggling aware that there are different ways of achieving their goals, as well as encouraging those who are academically able not to be put off from achieving high grades for the fear of being teased. They also give advice on speaking to friends, family and teachers about their worries and for support.
Students decided to address online safety with their production ‘Selfie!’ by using the ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ proverb as inspiration. The group was concerned that young people do not talk or listen enough about online safety, nor do they always see the potential negative impact social media can have. While not trying to deter people entirely from using social media, the students wanted to highlight the reality of social media usage and also incorporate a Q&A element into their production to allow young people to make informed decisions while online.
This piece encourages the audience to think about the impact of their actions on others and taking responsibility. Inspired partly by the #MeToo campaign, the students addressed the issue of personal space, the right to say no and have the confidence to speak out if they need to. The group use a game of playground tag to showcase how certain actions could be deemed inappropriate and leave someone feeling uncomfortable. While the group didn’t want to discourage youngsters from having fun, they felt making them think about the impact of their actions was important.
Emotions are the main subject of this production which encourages people to talk about their feelings. Using an array of physical and movement theatre, the group looks at different emotions as well as the ripple effects on others these can have. The main message the students wanted to get across is the fact there is always someone to talk to, no matter what your concerns or feelings, and how it is better to talk rather than bottle up your emotions.
Students address bullying in their production ‘Speak Out’, which looks at people being made fun of for a variety of reasons. One example looks at someone who is bullied because of a disability, which students wanted to pay particular attention to in order to highlight equality and diversity. The production is supported by the message that everyone is different, but different doesn’t mean bad. They also encourage people to embrace their differences, rather than see it as a reason for division.
Sophie’s not Sophie
This production follows the story of a young girl who befriends someone online, who, unbeknown to her, is in fact a groomer. Posing as ‘Sophie’, the groomer convinces the person they are speaking to they are of a similar age with the same interests. The students portray ‘Sophie’ as a puppet with the groomer pulling the strings to bring their creation to life to convince the girl to become friends. The group wanted to highlight how easily some people can be manipulated online, and how you might not be talking to who you think you are.
We're All Mad Here
Students used Alice in Wonderland as the inspiration for the theme of their production ‘We’re All Mad Here’. It tells the story of a young girl who attends a new school, but not long after starting, the new school becomes her new world. The students recognised the fact that their audience, years five and six school children, will soon be starting secondary school, which can be a daunting experience and time of change. Characters in the production have similar traits to those in Alice in Wonderland and encourages the audience to embrace change and celebrate the differences in people they meet along the way.