Twenty students. Two days. One original 15 minute performance piece. From scratch.
How could this work? And how did these students come alive in their creativity and understanding of Australia’s 60,000 years of innovation?
On our recent tour (read more here) we spent five days at Canberra Grammar, two of which were set aside to work with a motivated group of year three to six students in order to create a new piece to perform for parents and friends at the school’s ArtWalk evening.
We performed for them. We discussed new research into Aboriginal land management, permanent housing and food systems. We discussed how that informs sustainable living today. We got them moving to embody the learning, and embarked on our creative process workshop.
The Creative Process
Students created conversations about what the explorers saw – vast kangaroo grass plantations, harvesting, baking the world’s first bread, the world’s oldest manmade structures, etc. We recorded these conversations and they formed the basis for a soundtrack. Here’s an example:
Fact: Explorers saw ‘grassy plains spreading out like a boundless field’. When you walk through kangaroo grass it smells so rich and warm and nutty.
OC: Have you smelt food growing?
LS: Yes, I went to my mum’s farm for a reunion. On a morning walk I passed wheat fields.
OC: What did the growing wheat smell like?
LS: The smell was warm, welcoming, and had a pleasant, dry and fresh scent.
OC: To summarise, did you enjoy the smell of wheat?
OC: Thanks for passing on your knowledge, and thanks for listening!
They recorded sounds they created in groups, and rehearsed a refrain which included repetition and emphasis. They suggested movement motifs and we made group and duo sequences, including a few gems of their own brand of silliness.
Putting it all together
The students worked hard, we worked hard, the hosting teachers were awesome (thanks Erin and Amber), as we approached performance night this multi-aged, diverse group became a real team, anticipating the need to be ready, be confident and support each other.
They hit the stage. It sounded and looked amazing, had real character and each student shone – not in their learnt lines, but in the presentation of their real story, and in the expression of what they’d been learning.
The response from the audience of parents, grandparents, friends, teachers and other students was rapturous! The students revelled as they were applauded for their creativity, patience, for meeting challenges, collaborating and listening, for taking direction and having the courage to perform a totally new, innovative piece of art!
To summarise, did we enjoy working with this performance group?
Yes, we really, really did.