Ellie and I are back at Bramley Fulfilling Lives again – with 2 lovely volunteers Vicky and Dan. We’ve been navigating through stories from around the world and bringing them to life with our bodies and props in fantastical ways. This year we’re thrilled to be working with Bramley Primary School again, who will host workshops and bring children into the centre to meet and be creative together with the adults.
We began with creating a short film with the adults at Bramley Fulfilling Lives Centre, about our favourite things. The film was shown to Year 6 pupils, who in turn made a film about themselves for the adults. This was a great introductory way of getting to know a little bit about each other, and get excited about meeting each other in the future. When we showed the film to the children, we had wonderful positive discussions about the centre and learning disabilities.
We began our storytelling medley with the Greek myth of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur. By introducing ‘clues’ to the story – a candle, sun hat, and large arrow sign, the group instinctively began to play with the items. Blowing out candles, trying on the hat in different ways, pointing to different parts of the rooms with the arrow. We developed the story by physicalising the myth, we loved taking in turns to become the scary minotaur! One group developed spooky suspenseful sound and another group created an installation of clues to follow in a maze. We all came together to share our ideas.
The following week we took Grimm’s tale Hansel and Gretel as our theme. Participants enjoyed naming the objects as we revealed them to the group. “stick”, “house”, “sweets”, witch hat”. Everybody had a go of feeling the objects and passing them on around the circle. We developed the tale into drama games of passing the expression and sound around the circle – worried children and evil witch laugh – this was wonderfully passed from face to face.
Carl and Trish gave Oscar winning performances re-enacting the tale with props, other adults joined in as characters, and soon we had an eager cast to act the tale. We made our very own forest of branches and leaves for our characters to wade through. When we were making leaves to add to the forest of branches, Jean and Mark became very focussed when drawing their leaves and embellishing them. Jean was working on her leaves right up until we performed with them!
The next week we worked closely with a fairy tale created by a group of our Year 6 children. This story was created in a school workshop Ellie and I led – taking the ingredients of the Hansel and Gretel story and jumbling it up to create a completely new tale. This tale involved a gingerbread man on the run from the evil witch’s gremlins! We had a lot of fun playing memory games and vocal games to enhance this story. We then drew characters and locations of the story, which we’ll be using for our end of project performance. Ellie worked with a group to create a musical version of the story with instruments. Fiona took on a great responsibility performing a line for each character. She decided what each character might say, and how they might say it –
“I hope the witch doesn’t find me!” – Gingerbread man
“I hope the gingerbread man can’t see me!” – Witch
“We must find the gingerbread man!” – Gremlin
She confidently rehearsed the lines (with lots of encouragement from Steven and staff Carl) and performed them loudly and clearly for the other group during our presenting back. Fiona beamed with pride and smiled from ear to ear!
The following week we got spooky! We even built a campfire and turned the lights off. We developed a rhyme about skeletons living in a “dark dark town and a dark dark house” with actions. It was brilliant to see the adults perform the actions boldly, some adults performing for the first time! We then created two large-scale skeleton puppets to help us tell the story. This was certainly a challenge, but there was fantastic teamwork and a little bit of rivalry happening!
The next 5 sessions we’ll be exploring other tales from other countries and spending time with children in their school.
Bryony and Ellie
Photographs by Victoria Kortekaas and Mindy Goose