How to Devise Theatre With Children

I don’t know why. I do this amazing thing every day at summer camp. I have a lesson plan ready. I have everything planned out. I get really nervous and ready for everything to go as planned. However, once I get up to start teaching, everything goes out the window. I become this improvisational wizard who ebbs and flows based upon the mood of the kids I’m working with. I know how to make it look like brilliance and mapped out magic but it’s actually a farce. I start every class with a deep discussion about their real feelings and then we dive in with movement and improvisation moving on to working on devising theatre together. It is wonderful.

However, I feel guility. I feel terrified that it doesn’t look the way my friends teach. Being an assistant for so long is a gift and a curse. When I was assisting I learned what to expect, but I also began to deeply compare. Leading a class on my own, now I know how to work without assistance, assisting myself. Now I need to re learn how to allow others to help me. Mainly I need to stop judging myself so harshly. The kids listen to me, we work well together, it just doesn’t “look” the way I imagined my “perfect” class would look. I find my instincts taking over and my mind gets antsy and wonders why? I think it’s because you can always plan too hard. It takes guts to get up and work with the room. This is mostly self care writing right now. It is writing to let me know that I am doing alright. Just because my work doesn’t look the way I have seen teachers I admire work, it doesn’t mean it’s not good. I am my own person. I am my own type of teacher. Deep, honest, wanting to create work that is meaningful and not just a cute product. I hope that it shows in our final production next week.

How to devise work with children:

  1. Let their ideas be heard
  2. Give them space to create
  3. You are the glue. They are the collage papers. Put it all together.
  4. Remember that you are your own unique teacher and it doesn’t have to look the way you assume it “should.” but it is going to look the way the kids are.
  5. They are enough
  6. You are enough
  7. Just do it.
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