Hey, How are you all diddling? Sorry I'm a bit giddy this afternoon. The reason? These cheeky chappies. Eddie and Chris from the Discount Comedy Checkout, an improvisation troupe who've been performing together for over 8 years. They are just terrific and this morning I got the chance to make them perform for me like little monkeys. Literally. It wasn't just me though poor Eddie and Chris also had 30 children making them do ridiculous things. But hang on I'll back up and start from the beginning.
One night, a few weeks ago, I was thinking about a conversation I'd had with one of my favourite KS1 teachers, Miss Bugler. We were having a little moan about the lack of space for creative work in the classroom and talking about ways in which I could help her encourage the children's original ideas and story writing. On this particular night I'd been to see my dear friend (and comic genius) Eddie French performing with his comedy troupe and suddenly I saw it, the answer to Lisa's problem. Improvisation in the classroom to unleash the children's creativity!
And this is how it would work ... The kids would tell me their stories, I would narrate them and the improvising boys would instantly bring the stories to life! Today, was the first performance and it worked brilliantly. Just as I suspected the children's ideas really flowed.So I suggested to the excited 6 year olds...
"Ok let's tell a news story. What kind of story are our news reporters reporting on?"
The kids shouted
"All the animals have escaped from the zoo!"
"Batman has turned into a robot and has been sent to destroy the earth!"
"There's a fire, and the fire brigade are on their way to put it out,
except they can't get there because of a big wall! Like a really big wall!!"
And so the story of how all the animals escaped from the zoo because Robot Batman had stolen all the bricks to make a huge wall was brought to life!
We then improvised one of the children, Zara's, own stories. This was a surprise I'd cooked up with Miss Bugler She sent me the story a few days before and I had kept it a secret from the boys. As I narrated the story of the pirate of the year competition I would stop and let the boys colour in the scenes for us, it was fantastic to see Zara's face light up as the pirate characters she'd created and the world of Monkey bay was there for all to enjoy. And enjoy we certainly did!
The session did everything I hoped it would. The children showed no fear and were making the most marvellous suggestions for stories encouraged by the boys boundless energy and determination to incorporate all the children's ideas. I'll get some feedback soon from Miss Bugler about the more long term effects of our session but as a first foray I am excited about the possibilities and the effect it will have on the children's creative confidence and exploration. Luckily I wasn't the only one who was impressed as Fiona, the schools creative coordinator sent me an email as soon as school was out.
It was fantastic to observe you all today. Your idea to improvise children's ideas is exciting and brilliant!
She also wanted to discuss with us the possibility of two more sessions in September so safe to say the concept was a hit!
The boys and I are busy planning and scheming new ways to make ourselves useful in classrooms so please get in touch if you have any ideas or would like us to bring our unique brand of storytelling to your school.