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Running 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 running your club.

You’ve chosen your script, planned your programme and set a date for your final performance, and now it’s time to actually make it work. Here are some tips:

  • Pray as a team. Even though the content and purpose of the group may not be overtly Christian, it’s important to approach the club with the same attitude as an SU group or similar. Pray for the children as you get to know them.
  • Establish a routine for the club - make sure you leave time for arriving, catching up on the week’s news, going to the toilet, eating snacks etc. We encourage children to take off their shoes as it frees them physically and allows them to be more imaginative.Make sure you include some physical, vocal and imaginative warm-up exercises (there are plenty of resources available to help you find exercises for this). Try Drama Games for Classrooms and Workshops or 100+ Ideas for Drama for starters.
  • Keep the programme fast-paced and fun. Use a mixture of all together, group and paired work to keep children engaged. Set out your expectations early on and try and create an atmosphere where children can be boisterous and imaginative within a safe, controlled environment.
  • Put together a box of props and costumes that you can use. This feeds the imagination and helps the young people build characters.
  • Using music can significantly improve a mediocre performance - a little background music, or to cover scene changes and create mood. Also music is great for getting children moving.
  • Introduce terms such as ‘rehearsal’, ‘warm-up’, ‘director’, ‘stage-right’, ‘stage-left’ etc. early on as basic stagecraft is also part of the learning process, and adds to the sense of putting on a proper production.
  • Encourage the children to critique one another kindly and constructively. This encourages those who are ‘just watching’ to be more engaged. We usually ask two questions - what did you think was really good about the performance and can you suggest anything that would improve it?
  • The two basic rules of performance are don’t turn your back to the audience and speak loudly. You will have to reinforce this time and again.