When working with any community, we start off by introducing a few funny skits to engage new participants as laughter quickly creates a rapport between the students and us. We then introduce the very basic skills required to establish a strong foundation upon which to build further art and drama works.
These skills are learnt through a series of simple exercises which we have devised from our long creative practices. They require little verbal language. So you will see some themes emerging in our images and videos :
In Mime, the classic skill of The Wall, creates an imaginary wall through the use of hands, eye focus and movement. It establishes that we are now in the world of the imagination. It also establishes the notion of a discipline – so students understand that there are skills required in the arts.
Other classic teaching skits are : learning to drink an imaginary glass of water; eating an imaginary cake, driving a car that has problems starting.
In Clowning : the red nose introduces a sense of the ridiculous and establishes the permission to laugh and enjoy. This is an important step in breaking language barriers and some of the more formal relationships between teacher and student.
We teach simple skits which students can easily learn, practice and build upon. Some of these are: The Newspaper, a classic Chaplin-esque skit where one person tries to take someone else’s newspaper and Sleeping on the Park Bench, another classic skit where one person falls asleep on a total stranger.
These skills have their lineage in the iconic performers : Rowan Atkinson, Jacques Tati, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin. They have evolved from my training with the famous French school of theatre, mime and movement L’ecole Jacques LeCoq, Paris. You will see examples of these on our YouTube channel as we post them.
In the visual arts we start with learning the groups of colours : the warm, the cool and the earth. This practice establishes techniques of colour mixing as well as understanding that artists don’t use all the colours at once. For new students, this is a crucial skill. It teaches the discipline of mixing colours and knowing how colours work together. First paintings as a consequence, are always visually impressive and surprising.
Techniques are required to create an interesting as well as skilful artwork and these early lessons establish the idea that skills produce a more satisfying outcome.
Themes such as : working with the body and painting the local market place develop observational as well as furthers their colour mixing skills. In introducing Australian Indigenous x-ray style paintings we create links. Communities who may be indigenous or tribal and feel marginalised, find commonality with similar and other communities.
These artworks are famous for revealing both the interior and exterior world and
also wonderfully open up the imagination.
Once some of these basic art and drama skills are in place, we work with the community so they can more coherently express themselves and their lives.
Anne and Alex