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Thursday, 20 February 2020

Welcome Peter Holdway

I just thought I'd say hello via this blog!

I arrived in post as Drama Teacher at the beginning of January this year and it has been a hugely enjoyable first month! I've got to know students and teachers alike (although some colleagues knew me as a dad first), and I have been mad to feel welcome since Day 1. I'm very grateful for that; it made settling in all the easier.

In Drama, sometimes we see things in students that are not so visible in other subjects. I'm lucky to do what I do because the delivery of a lesson appears less structured, due to the practical sometimes chaotic process of improvisation, warm-up, physical training as well as growing the imagination in a particular way. I call it Serious Mucking About. Play is very important, but so are the parameters within which that play is encouraged.

This past month, I have worked with Years 7 - 9 on physicality and a lot on mask. I was delighted to see a collection of commedia dell'arte half masks made by friends of mine I the UK here intheDrama room and, boy, have we had proper fun using them! The great thing about mask work is that it can free up the wearer to do things they would not dream of doing without it. Students have been surprised at their own work in these sessions. That, for me, is very gratifying.

With Year 10, we have been carrying on the work laid down so well by my predecessor, Chipo Marunda, pushing ahead with their IGCSE projects. They are a terrific group. The joy of great works of Drama is that they address universal themes.

The set text for the group is Act One of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. At first glance, a play about Russian gentry at the end of the nineteenth century is well beyond the ken of teenage international students in twenty first century Zambia. But it struck me that there is a parallel between the rise of the Russian middle class and the decline of the old Russian order and the decline of the old colonial class here in Zambia and the rise of the Zambian land owner. So we have transposed the play from Russia to Zambia and it seems to be working.Applying some specific local expressions and references have also given the play a far richer resonance.

Also, via this plucky Year 10 group, we had a very successful Valentines Sundowner - an hour or so of student-led readings of poetry, music, Shakespeare. Great fun and I'm sure here will be more events like this in the future.

I'm starting a Drama Club on Thursdays, beginning 27th February, which will lead to the ISL Theatre Workshop - more about at next time.

Thanks for reading. Any questions, I'm in the Drama room or at he end of an email!

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