Clare Dunn Drama Residency

21-30 September

Over the past fortnight, the Drama department have welcomed a professional Theatre director and practitioner, Clare Dunn, into the department to work with GCSE and IB pupils, and to lead workshops after school with the Lower School Production cast.

Clare is the co-founder and artistic director of the Brighton-based Unpacked Theatre Company, whose work tours nationally and has received critical praise, including attracting Total Theatre nominations at Edinburgh. She also teaches freelance in Brighton, and in other Independent Schools and Universities.

 

 

Year 10 GCSE Drama students spent two of their lessons with Clare working on strategies for physical characterisation, as part of their scheme of work on physical theatre and devising; whilst Year 11 GCSE students were stimulated by two lessons aimed to get them started on their first practical assessment: devising and scripted presentations. Clare’s approach is characterised by considering the visual and physical aspects of theatre-making and storytelling. However, perhaps the most valuable lesson taught was the importance of working practically and quickly – keeping on your feet and avoiding crippling the creative development with too much critical analysis. Clare underlined a methodology of devising which is based on creating first, reflecting and shaping afterwards. She introduced our students to a number of ways into starting the practical devising process and our students certainly found Clare’s personality and workshops a vibrant and inspiring experience, which has given them real momentum in their subsequent practical work.

Clare also spent several lessons with IB Text & Performance and IB Theatre, introducing them to different ways of creating theatrical material from a text, supporting the former students' work on re-contextualising the Grimm Fairy stories, and giving the latter students an insight into the theatre-making process, which included looking at object manipulation and drawing on personal experiences within the group to devise material.

Clare’s final session were held after school on the Pamoja stage, with 40 members of the Lower School Production cast, who are working on a modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s Two Noble Kinsmen. Clare worked with directors Jim Grant and Gavin Henry in establishing the ensemble building process and introducing the actors to a thematic exploration of the story. Clare was certainly impressed with the level of focus, commitment and invention from the cast, who ended the workshop by presenting their own versions of sections of the play, with many different layers and considerable detail. Many of these ideas will end up in Mr Grant’s script, which makes the project so worthwhile - Clare’s workshop has certainly enabled a far greater cast input into the evolution of the production.

Overall, Clare’s residency has been inspirational and refreshing. It has been very beneficial to students, not just to be given some new theatre-making methods and tools, but also to hear a different voice and perspective with a similar message; one which reinforces the standards and attitude of professionalism, which the department aims to generate amongst those pupils studying and working in Drama.