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Planning an after-school drama club

Drama is an excellent medium for engaging young people in thinking about big ideas. At its heart, drama is about telling stories, and through participation children grow in confidence, gain skills in presentation and learn how to use their bodies and voices. It also promotes trust, collaboration and listening skills.

Fiona Stewart, Foolproof Creative Arts, explains how to start, plan and run an after school drama club. In this article, the focus lies on planning your club.

Once you’ve got your team together, had permission from the school to start a drama club and have done some advertising to the potential members, it’s time to get started! So, how do you do that?

  • Decide what you’re going to work on for the term - will you use a script? Write your own? Adapt a story? Familiar stories are often best. You might want to gather ideas from the group, talking about the stories (films, books, TV programmes) that they like. 
  •  If you’re using a script, think about the reading stage of the children in the group. Reading a script is a different skill from reading aloud in class and you may need to find imaginative ways of telling the whole story before you plunge into a first read. Remember that some scripts may not be available for performance or use (e.g. anything currently being performed professionally, many Disney-owned stories). There are lots of scripts available through websites such as Treepress and Lazybees, and we often recommend buying a copy of Julia Donaldson’s Playtime which is written to help young readers. 
  •  If you’re going to devise your own script from a story then there are some resources that will help you do this. Drama Games for Devising by Jessica Swale is a good starting point. 
  • If you choose to dramatize a Bible story remember that many children will not be familiar with the passage. It’s a good opportunity to let them explore the passage for themselves and find its meaning. 
  • Working back from the performance date (probably the last session of the term), put together a realistic programme of what you’ll do each week. Make sure you include some physical, vocal and imaginative warm-up exercises. Try Drama Games for Classrooms and Workshops or 100+ Ideas for Drama for starters. 
  • Enjoy showing friends and family what you have worked on - think about whether you could get some other Christians to organise the ‘audience’ side of the performance by mingling with the families, serving refreshments and hosting well. 

Next week, Fiona will explain how to run an after school drama club.