Dumbshow Theatre Festival in Qatar

April 18th, 20157:58 am @


In early March 2015, the cast and crew of Dumbshow’s The Pearl went out to Sherborne School in Doha, Qatar, to perform The Pearl and to run a drama festival for the students of Sherborne and other schools from the region.

We performed The Pearl for the students and teachers on the Thursday evening and then ran workshops on the Friday and Saturday that culminated in the students performing short devised pieces based on a Grimm tale.

Each of the Dumbshow members (and our new friends Hannah and Paul) ran workshops with the students to help them in the devising process that was not based on reading a script. Jack ran an improvisation workshop, Hester did storytelling, Mike did voice, Hannah did physical storytelling, Paul did mask, and I did creating a character. We hoped that all of these sessions would give the students some tools for devising and get them to use their imagination.

The workshops were 40 minutes each on rotation so we had to work quickly. I’ll give a quick breakdown of my workshop to give an example of how we were working and what we were trying to achieve.

I began with the students walking around the room (that old classic), telling them to stay alert and to look at their surroundings. We then walked in mud, then I’d put weights on their feet, then they were light as a feather and I wanted them to levitate (really). This quick exercise got the group to start moving in an exaggerated fashion but without having to think too much about it and therefore block their creativity.

Next, I asked the students to walk around the room, leading with a different part of their body. We lead from either the nose, the hips, or with a pointed index finger. To encourage the students to push themselves further I used a scale of 1-10, trying to get the most physically exaggerated version at 10.

I then asked them to slowly start making a noise or a grunt and then to start making words and to find a word that described them. Half the room sat down and watched the other half and then swapped over. I then interviewed the characters one by one. It is amazing how quickly the students created these grotesque and funny characters, and each one was completely different.

These exercises are good for creating character because you can find something through exploring and exaggerating through your body, which eliminates having to think about a character on a page first.