Dumbshow Theatre Festival in Qatar… Devising a Grimm Tale

April 19th, 20158:00 am @

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After the workshops we split the students into four groups. We each had a different approach to how we were going to work with our groups. Jack and I had a loose structure which we could work from but not so strict that we were unable to respond to the student’s ideas.  The plan we had, that we roughly followed, was to read the story in groups and to make a note of the settings and characters present in the text.

Some of the questions we asked the students to consider were:

  • Could they add any characters or locations? For Example, are there any locations that a journey skips over that could be included?
  • What were the key points in the story and could you split the story into 10 parts? 5? 3?
  • Where do you need language? Narrators? Is the dialogue already there?
  • Can you think of 25 ways to tell a story? This is a question about form. For example, song, mime, through dance…etc.
  • What moment is the most important?
  • Which moment are you most interested in?

Using this set of questions is a useful way to start adapting a text, because it begins to draw the students away from using only what is in the text, and to think in more dramatic terms. As the students had seen The Pearl I was able to use it as an example of dramatic elements that were not in Steinbeck’s novella. Such as, when Kino dives into the sea and we have an underwater section. Or when we have a musical dance number to Barbara Streisand… Steinbeck certainly didn’t write those bits in.

I would always ask the above questions at the start of a devising process, as it gives students permission to be imaginative and creative and to use different techniques of storytelling.