Background to the programme
Zeotrope is a theatre company that has existed since 1999. It pays particular attention to regional identity and the role of spectators in artistic creation. In 2006, it created a show on respecting the rules, performed at least 3 times in a local technical school. Following this, the Senior Educational Advisor (CPE) of this school contacted the company about a joint theatre project with a class during the school year. The first year served as a test year to define the project, while they worked on short films and screenplays, before ending in a project to create a show.
Objectives of the programme
- The primary objective is that students produce their show.
- Showcase the skills and ideas of the students: to make them get over a sense of failure (many are on a path that they haven't chosen) and understand their own skills and expertise, both personal and those acquired at school.
- Create an energetic atmosphere through the presence of an artist and encourage the teachers to take over the project in their lessons.
Throughout the school year, participation of a class at all the stages of creating a theatre show:
• In small groups, the students participate in improvisation workshops to become familiar with theatre, get to know the leader ...
• Voluntary pupils in the class participate in writing workshops in small groups/philosophy café, in order to think about what story they want to tell
• They then participate, depending on their interest, in lessons in set and costume design (sets, accessories ...), technical sound, administration (eg. how to find funding for a show) ...
• They create their show in which professionals (actors, sound technicians, costume designers ...) and students work together
• Final show played in front of the high school
An outsider from the zeotrope company ran the workshops:
• 1st term: half a group (12 students), during school hours
• From the 2nd term: during gaps in the timetable chosen with students and teachers, on average once a week.
Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions
- The project ended due to the departure of the CPE, the project leader.
- 4 shows have been created, including an adaptation of Macbeth.
- In terms of commitment, all students remained in the cycle, except one.
- The results were positive for the students:
-> Relationships with adults and teachers: when the teacher is interested in their project and their work, it highlights them and improves their relationships; the students realise that they can ask for things from adults by arguing for their idea.
-> Increase in self-esteem: even those who didn't act in the show were proud as it was 'their' show. Everyone had the opportunity to show what they could do.
- Some teachers have embraced the project for the shows in their lessons: set construction; shooting videos ...
- Culture is a way to encourage communication among people from any background. During the school year, students and an artist create a shared area in which students produce their own show together. Culture enables the establishment of other relationships and brings a different perspective on themselves and others.
- The duration of the project (throughout the school year) allows time for digression, to get to know each other and lets young people have a voice.
- Except for the improvisation workshops, all the others were on a voluntary basis. The students were really in control of the creative project.
Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme
- Neighbourhood schools
Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :
- Reluctance of students at the beginning of the year: a priori, not one of them wanted to participate. It took 2 sessions to make them want to.
- Convince teachers of the relevance of the project: the difference between their objectives and those of the theatre workshop. We must come to an agreement on the value and content of the workshops. The differences in behaviour between the classroom and the workshop can provoke disagreements on how the rules are applied.
- Cost: an actor who intervenes throughout the year and must be paid, in addition to other actors. Only one class involved for a significant investment.
Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :
- Give desire to students: it's the inclusive part of the project.
- Communicate well with teachers
Suggestions for future improvement :
- Resume the project in the technical school or in another institution
- Ensure that the whole institution takes over the project (other classes, teaching staff, etc ..)
- That the show might be played outside the school, ideally before a real audience
Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :
- Honesty about the aims and the project: the person intervening is there as an actor, to create a spectacle, not to preach to students. It's about doing theatre for the sake of theatre and not to achieve another objective. Many positive things to put in place but without being exploitative.
- Appropriation: the students realise quite quickly that there is no censorship and they make their own show
- Self-esteem: the students realise that they are capable and appreciate seeing their work valued, which motivates them.
- Diversity of the activities offered: throughout the entire workshop cycle, each student will find a time when they shine, when they are valued and when they will be able to learn things from others. Each person brings something different to the show.