Workshop format

Workshop format

Our workshops cover a range of themes comprising the critical building blocks of story writing, from punctuation and paragraphing, from characterisation to dialogue, but they all follow the same basic format.

ILLUMINATE  | CREATE | CAPTIVATE

Each workshop comprises three distinct sessions with three specific objectives.

ILLUMINATE

All our workshops begin with a selection of illustrative performances by our actors, prompted by a tutor, to demonstrate the relevance of the workshop’s theme. Our energetic actors take the grayscale out of grammar and pack a punch with punctuation.

While these performances are often noisy, comical and entertaining, their purpose is serious: to illustrate the importance of the basic elements of creative writing. For example, our actors use an amusing traffic light demonstration to show the importance of punctuation. Children are able to participate towards the end of this session and, being professionals, our actors are able to improvise in response. Beneath the laughter though, there is learning. We like to imagine light bulbs over our students’ heads suddenly illuminating during this session!

CREATE

In this session children work independently but under the watchful eye of an experienced creative writing tutor. To ensure that every child gets the attention and support they need, there are never more than 3-4 children per tutor.

Following an overview of what they have learned during the first part of the session, children are encouraged to come up with original ideas and to develop story plans on their own. As even professional storywriters will tell you, ideas can easily stall at this early stage. So one of our actors, usually in the guise of a particular character (a favourite is “Top Dog”), is on hand to help add impetus to the creative process and to give advice where needed. If the light bulb over your children’s head flickers, Top Dog is there to switch it back on!

In this quieter more studious middle session, actors and tutors work side-by-side, the former to instruct and the latter to inspire. We think that what happens next proves that this is a winning combination.

CAPTIVATE

In this session, children gather in a semi circle around a stage area. Our actors perform each child’s story in no particular order. This is the point when children realise, thanks to our skilled actors, how much life can be lifted from their words.  Equally importantly, they also experience the reactions of others to their own work and they are exposed to new techniques in the work of others – techniques they are then likely to try themselves. We believe that this exposure makes our workshops much more powerful than one-to-one composition tutorials.

What children take away from this session is purpose. The purpose of writing – the point of words – has changed. The memory of the visual performance, the sound of the actors’ voices stays with them long after they leave our workshops. They’ve got the skills but now they are motivated and inspired as well.

Parents are welcome to watch the performances.