Sunday 25 February 2018

A class act at the Factory Theatre

Sinead Healy

More than 480 students from Summerhill College were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the Factory performance space last week.

Ciaran Mc Cauley, Actor with the Blue Raincoat Theatre Company along with Michael Cummins, Roger Mc Carrick and Jack Cavalier compiled an interactive learning experience for the students, teaching them about lighting, props, the use of sounds, tone of voice and how to deliver a scene in a number of different ways.

English teacher Declan Brennan and his first, second and third year students were there as part of the new English Junior Certificate curriculum were students are expected to answer specific questions relating to a scene and how to direct it.

The activity was compulsory for students and allowed them to engage in the sample exam question during the live performances.

Declan believes that by introducing the theatre space to the students, many of whom had never been there before, he is helping to link education with the real world.

"We sit in a classroom trying to explain how drama works and what drama is all about and 500 metres from our doorstep we have this resource," explained Declan.

"After this week the students have a sense now of how to work with lighting; sounds, how to interpret a scene and they have been exposed to a high level of theatre production."

Summerhill secondary school is the first school to try this new interactive learning experience and English teacher Declan would love to see implemented each year.

"It is ambitious to bring three entire years every year but this theatre is sitting on our door step and they have done a fantastic job showcasing it. The response has been incredible from the students. Some are already interested in drama so this has helped ignite that and help point them in the right direction."

All four founding members of The Blue Raincoat theatre are past students of Summerhill College.

For Actor Ciarán Mc Cauley, it is about giving back to the students by introducing them to drama and helping them to be inspired. He believes that by providing the students with clear visual representation it will allow them to answer the junior certificate question more confidently.

"The students get to be in the room, we can stop the scene talk about it directly. It's not academic learning from a book we physically show them what's being done and that by adding sound and gesture and different lighting that the scene can be completely changed.

"We would be up for offering the piece to other schools and it is also something that we could potentially travel with."

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