In February, I had the pleasure of working with and accompanying a group of teenagers from Shinfield Players Theatre Senior Youth Group to Prague to take part in Class in Action an International Drama Competition.
Class in Action offers a unique opportunity for young people of different nationalities to meet, compete, and share inspiration with similar-minded young people from many different countries.
Class in Action promotes the use of English and drama as a tool for international communication.
Groups are given a choice of three topics and have to devise a 15-minute piece of drama to perform on the first day for the other groups taking part plus an invited group of adjudicators.
They also attend a mixed workshop on the second day led by other group leaders.
For this, they had to work together to devise another piece of drama on a new topic.
I worked with Gordon Bird our group leader and 12 youngsters from five different countries to devise a dramatic piece called Revenge In A Church.
This was hard work, but such a lot of fun.
While it might be considered easy for native English speakers to produce a piece of drama to perform in the competition, this is not necessarily the case.
In order to communicate effectively our young people have to simplify their language and avoid using idioms, colloquialisms or jargon that would only be understood by other native English speakers.
They have to speak more slowly and clearly and emphasise their characters and gestures.
You can have the cleverest piece of drama with an important message, but if it can’t be understood then it is useless!
This year, our group chose the topic ‘you reap what you sow” and devised a powerful piece based on cyberbullying.
The young people worked very hard and learnt a lot from the process.
The piece was very well received both here in a performance for family and friends before we left for Prague and also at the competition.
The feedback from other the group leaders and from fellow competitors was amazing and we were overwhelmed to win both the judges and the audience prize for the best piece as well as best script and a best actress award for Kirsti Burch.
The Polish group leader even asked us if he could have our script so that he could translate it into Polish and use it in his school as it had such a powerful message!
I think for me though seeing how our young people interacted with young people from different countries, communicating and making friends was the best prize of all.
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