Performing Arts Classes

Dramacube celebrated 10 years of performing arts classes with A Decade of Dramacube at the weekend.  Members from past and present casts gathered together to act, sing and dance the night away at The Exchange Theatre in Twickenham.

Having weathered the highs and lows of the last 10 years, Steve Leslie felt it only right to celebrate and to do so with the people that truly matter: the kids, the parents and his creative team.

What the Kids Did:

Casts from all over the Richmond borough got to revisit some of the shows, songs and dance routines from several past productions and workshops.    Purple Cast dazzled with songs from Beauty & the Beast, Fame Jr and Wicked.  Yellow Cast shone with Annie Jr and The Wizard of Oz (YPE).  Blue Cast impressed us with songs from The Wizard of Oz (YPE), Aladdin Jr and Annie Jr.  Red Cast delighted audiences with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Peter Pan Jr and Annie Jr.  Whilst Green Cast entertained us with Matilda Jr, Elf the Musical Jr and Annie Jr.

What the Adults Did:

Performing Arts Classes

Oh What A Night!

Perhaps the most surprising part of the night came with a production called Annie Retold which was written and directed by Matthew Bunn and performed by the Dramacube Creative Team.  Dripping with Matt’s cutting wit and dry humour, the show was a huge success with several moments of hilarity and surprise.  Matt took great pleasure, not only in donning a wig, a dress and playing the main part, but also in having the power to kill off a couple of the main characters!  Annie will never be the same again!

The Future:

To mark the occasion, Dramacube have made three green pledges to make a small but positive impact on our local environment.  These include: planting a new tree every year; providing planters for Hampton Hill High Street and developing gardens and green spaces in  local schools.

Performing Arts Classes-What’s On Now?

It was straight back to work for the Dramacube team who are now turning their attention to the Summer Holiday Workshops.  If you would like to join us please click here.

Sarah Watson-Dramacube

 

Movie-Making for kids

Movie-Making for Kids with Dramacube

Dramacube Movie-Makers York are running more exciting Summer Holiday Workshops for Young People aged 7 to 14! If you are interested in Movie-Making for Kids then carry on reading!

Guided by experienced drama and technical tutors the young people get hands-on experience as together they scriptdirectshoot, and act in their own movie, in just three days!

Fun and dynamic sessions include getting hands-on with cameraslightingsound and other production techniques that help them discover the skills necessary for successfully making a short film.

Movie-Making for Kids

Baz Jones- Head of Movie-Makers York

We encourage the young people to develop their creative ideaswork togethergain confidence and have fun while learning new ideas and the principles of storytelling through the medium of film. No experience is necessary!

An electronic download of the finished movie is provided for free!

Enrol your child today for a Summer Holiday workshop and help them discover the magic of the movies!

“I really liked it! It’s inspired me to plan my own movie. The Dramacube company is just the best – I very much recommend coming here!”

Dramacube Movie-Makers student

Summer Holiday Workshop Dates

Movie Makers 3-day workshop (ages 6 – 15)Tue 9th – Thur 11th August9.15am – 4.15pmMillthorpe School, York£111 (10% sib discount)
Movie Makers 3-day workshop (ages 6 – 15)Mon 22nd-Weds 24th August9.15am – 4.15pmMillthorpe School, York£111 (10% sib discount)

If your child would like to come along to Movie-Makers, please click here.

Baz Jones & Sarah Watson- Dramacube

Film-Making for kids

Film-Making for Kids- Interview with Baz Jones

Film-Making for kids is one of the hottest trends right now, so with a Summer Term Project coming up, we interviewed Baz Jones, Head of Movie-Makers York.

How did you get become involved with Movie-Makers York      and Dramacube Productions?

I’ve known Steve (Dramacube’s Owner and Director) for many years, and last year (2021) he approached me about collaborating on a film-making course for young people. I immediately said, ‘Yes!’

Did you study film at university? Have you always worked in creative roles? 

I studied Film, Television & Theatre at York St. John University, and have always had a passion for the creative arts. I’ve had a varied career, but I’ve always been drawn back to being creative, as it’s such an important way to express ourselves, and work out our place in the world around us.

I think for young people being creative is really important – it’s a different way to think and to interpret things, and on our course, which is movie-making, there are so many skills to learn and enjoy. Whatever a young person might be interested in, or even if they don’t know anything about making a film yet, they can write, perform, design, plus learn technical skills – all in a confidence-building team framework.

Film-Making for Kids

Baz Jones- Head of Movie-Makers York

What’s your all-time favourite film and why? 

The film I must’ve watched more times than any other is ‘Back to the Future’. Released when I was about nine, it made such a massive impact on my impressionable mind!  It’s virtually perfect, with every shot and line of dialogue judged to perfection. It’s exciting, heart-warming, fun, funny, sad, touching…and endlessly quotable. Its apparent simplicity is only the result of incredible amounts of hard work, and that crucial touch of inspiration, also called ‘magic’!

Tell us a bit about the current Movie-Makers York project. 

We’ve just completed a special project where a group of 25 young people created three short films inspired by York’s famous city walls and their history. It was part of The York Walls Festival, and we were very proud to have The Sheriff of York congratulate the team of young people at the student and parents screening!

In June we begin another of our standard, film-making for kids projects, where the group of young people will work together on the idea for a short film – and then make it! Ably assisted by our talented and supportive tutors.

Is there an end of term presentation? 

Yes, we think it’s really important that everyone gets to celebrate their achievements together, and with their close family! We have a red carpet, hand out certificates, and generally have a bit of a party! For our three-day workshops there’s not quite enough time to have family members along, but we still have a screening for the group at the end of the third day. And for all of our film-making for kids projects everyone gets a digital copy of the film for free!

How can young people benefit from joining Movie-Makers York? 

We’ve had a lot of parents tell us that their child has increased in confidence, and really enjoyed working positively in a group of their peers. The courses and workshops are such a great balance of imagination and practicality, meaning they suit all interests and personalities. These days, with access to smart phones, laptops and tablets, we all have a film studio in our pocket or at home. Giving young people a structure for their ideas, and showing them simple ways to improve their movie-making, means they can apply what they’ve learned with us straightaway at home!

Film-Making for kids

Kids having fun at Movie-Makers

Have you learnt anything new since joining Dramacube? 

You learn so much from each new group of young people! They look at the world in simpler terms and yet their imaginations are so much bigger and bolder than ours. They have fewer barriers than adults to what’s possible! It’s great to see things through their eyes, and also to show them that there’s no such thing as getting something wrong, and it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake – we just go for another take!

What made you choose York as the location for Movie-Makers? 

I’m based in York and I love the city, so it always made sense to launch Movie-Makers here, plus it’s the place where I first studied film. It’s great to be giving something back and inspiring the next generation of York film-makers, writers, designers, make-up artists and performers!

Dramacube is currently celebrating its 10th birthday this year with A Decade of  Dramacube.  Where would you like to see Movie-Makers, 10 years from now? 

Wow, great question! Wouldn’t it be fantastic if some of these young people went on to work in the creative arts industries? Or became tutors with us teaching the next-next generation! But equally staying creative alongside whatever you end up doing in life is so important. There are lots of ways creative skills can benefit your family and your community, and we do have that film studio always with us in our pockets! I hope every young person we work with is still finding time to be creative in ten years time!

Sarah Watson-Dramacube

drama classes for kids with conflict

Drama classes for kids…conflict and rebellion…what’s the link, I hear you say? George Orwell’s Animal Farm is showing this week at Richmond Theatre.   The famous fable explores the concept of rebellion and the repercussions that follow- reflecting the politics of the time it was written.  It got me thinking about the crucial role of conflict in drama and how we have covered countless rebellions in our shows at Dramacube.

Here are a few of the best from our drama classes for kids:

The Wizard of Oz:

Drama Classes for Kids

Conflict follows Dorothy on her journey

Conflict drives the sub-plot of this play, triggered by Dorothy accidentally killing off the Wicked Witch of the East and being gifted the ruby slippers by Glinda.  The Wicked Witch of the West becomes an enemy for life and then hounds Dorothy and her friends on their journey to Oz.  Luckily the conflict is resolved by Dorothy accidentally throwing water at the Witch, who screams, “Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?”  Our 7-11yr olds took this to the stage in 2019.

The Lion King:

Simba’s wicked uncle, Scar, plots to steal the thrown from Mufasa and his young cub.  A stampede of wildebeests does the job but Simba escapes and returns as an adult to take back what is rightfully his.  Our 4-6yr old cubs are currently exploring The Lion King jungle every Saturday morning in Hampton Hill.

Drama Classes for Kids

Miss Hannigan breeds conflict & rebellion

Annie Jr:

Love and greed breed conflict and rebellion in this marvellous musical.  Mistreatment at the hands of Miss Hannigan drives Annie to escape and seek out her parents.  In the meantime several other characters, including Warbucks, and Rooster and Lily, plan to use Annie for financial or political gain.  Resolution comes when Warbucks and Annie realise that only love matters.  At Dramacube we love this show so much that it’s a recurring feature in our line-up of previous shows.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:

The White Witch is the figure of conflict in Narnia as she enslaves and arrests Mr Tumnus for treason and dedicates all of her time and resources to capturing the Pevensie children.  Luckily, Aslan is on hand to rescue the children and save Narnia from an eternal winter.  Another firm favourite for Dramacube, we have taken this to the stage twice in the past.

If you are interested in drama classes for kids, please click here.

 

 

Act. sing, dance Shakespeare

Act, sing and dance all things Shakespeare this week as Dramacube celebrates the great Bard’s birthday on April 26th.

Some fantastic ideas to act, sing and dance the week away!

Design a mask so that you can be a guest at Romeo and Juliet’s Masquerade Ball.  You should consider the type of character you want to play and how that can be represented in mask form.

Re-write a scene form a Shakespeare play as a story or poem.

Organise a banquet for Macbeth with shopping lists and invitations.  Work out how much food and drink to order and how much it would cost.

Investigate the death of any Shakespeare character, discussing motivation, opportunity, witness statements, evidence and possible suspects.

Learn about the history of the Globe Theatre and discuss how it is used now.  Draw a net of the Globe Theatre and build a 3D model.

Write a reduced version of your favourite Shakespeare play.  Vote for the best and spend the week singing, dancing and acting out Shakespeare.

Create a comic strip of an iconic scene with drawings and writing.

Sing, act and dance Shakespeare

Falling in Love with Shakespeare

Get the camera out to create snapshots of specific scenes with speech and thought bubbles to be added later.

Word hunt.  Split the class/family into teams with different lists of Shakespearean words.  The winners are the first group to translate their entire list into modern English.

Use a computer program to generate a word cloud filled with words relevant to the play or character.

Design outfits for your favourite characters and attempt to make them (in miniature) using different fabrics and materials.

Using a glossary of Shakespearean words, choose a modern picture book and re-write it in Shakespearean language.

Plan, write and film yourself acting out a modern version of Romeo and Juliet.

Dance, sing and act Shakespeare

I just wanted to be King!

Sketch a modern-day version of favourite characters from the plays.  What would they look like now?

Use dance to interpret a sonnet or scene from a play.

If your child likes to act, sing or dance, please click here.

Sarah Watson- Dramacube

Drama Classes for 4-6yr olds

Drama Classes for 4-6yr olds

Drama classes for 4-6yr olds will focus on The Lion King at Dramacube this term.  Lead teacher, Heather Stockwell will guide our little ones through the jungle using drama, movement and music.

Here are some fun facts about The Lion King, The Musical:

The musical debuted on July 8th, 1997 in Minnesota before premiering on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre on October 15, 1997.

Drama classes for 4-6yr olds

The 4 Man Giraffe!

It is Broadway’s 3rd longest-running show in history, grossing more than any other Broadway production at $1 billion.  In total, income from theatre and film has accrued more than $8 billion.

The show opened in London’s Lyceum Theatre on October 19th, 1999, and is still running after more than 7,500 performances.

The Lion King is the first musical to have been performed on every continent!

Each production features over 200 puppets and demands the input of 150 people!

6 different indigenous languages are spoken in the play. These are Swahili, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana and Congolese.  This helps to capture the essence of Africa where Pride Rock is based.

Many of the costumes place huge physical demands upon the actors.  For example, the zebra costume weighs 25 pounds! A friend of ours once played the lead part and lost stones in weight due to the pressure of wearing the heavy costume on stage and sweating profusely under the extreme stage lights!

Drama Classes for 4-6yr oldsng

4-6yrs Finding Their Roar!

There are a variety of puppets used in the show, including: rod puppets, shadow puppets and full-sized puppets. It took a total of 37,000 hours to build the masks and puppets!

The giraffe puppet incorporates stilts for the actors and stands at 18 feet tall!  The elephant needs four people to move and is 13 feet long and nine feet wide.

Surprisingly, MAC provide the makeup for the show- I had never considered the use of normal high street make up being used on stage.

 

If you would like to sign up for our drama classes for 4-6yr olds click here.

Teenagers sorting costumes for Work Experience in musical theatre

Sorting Costumes for Musical Theatre

 

Gaining experience in Musical Theatre was the top priority for 3 local schoolgirls who completed work experience at Dramacube Productions this week.  After a busy and productive week, Charlotte, Zizzi and Maya, agreed to sit down for a coffee and a chat about what they’ve been up to.

Gaining Experience in Musical Theatre Interview

So girls what do you study & are you enjoying your courses?

Maya:  I study Music & Drama, Product Design & Geography.  Yes, Drama is my favourite.

Charlotte:  Drama, Textiles, History & German. Yes I enjoy them all but especially Drama!

Zizzi:  Music, Drama, Textiles & History.  I particularly enjoy my History course!

What are your interests? What do you enjoy doing?

Zizzi:  Singing, playing music and acting- I prefer screen to stage acting.

Maya:  I like to sing in the school choir and and I love acting with Dramacube!

Charlotte:  Acting, singing, playing guitar & keyboard and anything to do with theatre.

What career aspirations do you have?

Charlotte:  Anything related to working in theatre or working with children.

Zizzi:  I would like to be an actress or work in the music or fashion industry.

Maya:  Anything to do with performing would make me happy.  Singing and acting on stage is my preference.

What made you choose Dramacube Productions for your work experience?

Maya:  I have always been part of Dramacube and wanted to know more about what goes on backstage.

Charlotte:  I already attended Dramacube so it was an obvious choice, also I love working with kids and Dramacube is all about that!

Zizzi:  Because Dramacube incorporates a lot of my interests and I knew that Costume Design would make up a huge part of the week.

Birds Eye view of the stage.

Gaining a New Perspective

What kind of things have you done during your work experience?  

Zizzi:  I have planned games, worked with kids, helped organise costumes for Aladdin and worked on the set design and creation.

Maya:  I have helped to paint the stage, design the set, prepare the costumes and set up the stage ready for the show.

Charlotte:  Lots of positive problem solving and stage, set and costume prep.

Who have you worked with this week?

All:  Steve (Company Director), Matt (Director), James (Musical Director) and Hannah (Production Design).

What have you enjoyed and what have you found challenging?

Charlotte:  I loved helping out with the younger cast- teaching them their lines and choreography was tricky!

Zizzi:  Making costumes was a particularly high point.  Thinking of games for young children was hard.

Maya:  I really enjoyed building the stage and making props.  Finding costumes to fit various actors and teaching young children lines and routines was a great challenge!

What will you take away from this experience?

Maya:  That I prefer being on stage rather than backstage.

Zizzi:  I actually really enjoy working with children!

Charlotte:  Seeing behind the scenes of stage life is really interesting!

Work Experience Girls playing with costume

Fun in Costume!

Would you recommend Dramacube for work experience?

All:  Definitely- 100%! It is particularly good if you’re into performing arts and musical theatre!

“This week has been so fun, from making the set and costume, to helping with the different casts and seeing how different, yet amazing they all are and even helping out with the workshops.  I honestly wish it was a two week experience as it has just been so fun helping out at Dramacube and I would definitely do it again.” Charlotte

Sarah Watson-Dramacube

 

 

 

 

Mary Poppins flying through the air. Children's Theatre

The Role of Motherhood in Children’s Theatre

Children’s theatre has created some fabulous and unforgettable characters.  With Mother’s Day fast approaching, lets take a look at the representation of motherhood in Children’s theatre.

Children's Theatre, Miss Hannigan

We Love You Miss Hannigan!

Miss Hanigan from Annie Jr.

A slovenly and cruel alcoholic who hates children but chooses to manage an orphanage in New York.  The lovable antagonist likes to bathe in alcohol and force children to scrub the floors until they, “Shine like the top of the Chrysler building!”  Despite money and liquor pickling her brain, we are led to perceive her as a bad but not evil person.

Mrs Wormwood from Matilda

Despite having a home and 2 kids, Zinnia spends most of her time trying to escape from the life she has chosen. Her preoccupation with material wealth drives her to play Bingo most nights of the week and she spends the rest of her time ballroom dancing.  Maintaining her, rather cheap, looks is a full-time occupation and leads her to neglect the only bright person she knows, Matilda.  Mrs Wormwood may be portrayed as a terrible mother but shows some emotion in her departure from Matilda.

Wendy Darling in Peter Pan. Children's Theatre

Let’s Never Grow Up!

Wendy Darling from Peter Pan Jr.

A life-long appreciation of Peter Pan makes this character imaginative and playful.  The eldest of 3 siblings, she is portrayed as maternal, yet only on the brink of womanhood.  Wendy encapsulates all that is maternal with a sweet and compassionate nature that is protective and hopeful for those around her.  Without this character, the young audience would feel vulnerable.

Mary Poppins

Firm but fair.  Kind but sensible.  Mary Poppins ticks all of the boxes when she floats in to the lives of the Banks family in London.  Summoned by magic, she sets about sorting out the children with, “A spoon full of sugar…” and reminding the parents about what really matters.  This character left parents all over the world with unrealistic expectations for hired help!

If your child would like to get swept up in a world of imagination and magic, please click here!

Sarah Watson-Dramacube

Young Child Riding a Trike

Camera Shots & Angles for Kids

The importance of camera shots & angles for Kids was at the forefront of our Dramacube Movie-Makers session this week.   Having recorded several long shots from limited angles, the Movie-Makers quickly realised that a lot of the action was being missed.  Also, the long shots were failing to create the frenetic atmosphere fundamental to a high-octane zombie movie!  So, let’s take a look at interesting examples of camera shots in famous films.

Interesting Examples of Camera Shots:

Rope (1948)

Starring James Stewart, this film was shot in real time and edited to appear like one long shot by using a series of very long takes.  Hitchcock used hidden dissolves by focussing on the back of a person or an object, to camouflage numerous cuts.  Other cuts were essential and impossible to hide so they were left in.  This was due to the limits imposed by the 10-minute film reels which were used back then.

Kes (1969)

Directed by Ken Loach, the film included lots of long-distance shots, to capture the contrast of town and village- symbolising the complexity of the boy’s life.  The outcome is stunning as viewers witness the beauty of the lush Yorkshire countryside alongside the depressing, quiet towns.

JAWS (1975)

Man looking scared.

Look at that Dolly Zoom!

Surprisingly one of Steven Spielberg’s early debuts as a Director- the film was ground-breaking on so many levels and still has a major cult following to this day.  The iconic beach scene was made so because of outstanding use of a track and zoom shot.  Zooming out to show more of the background whilst pushing the camera forward creates a clever optical illusion.  In this example it is used to magnify Chief Brody’s panic and it definitely delivers!

Kids using camera

Experimenting with camera shots!

The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining haunted my childhood and remains one of the few films I find difficult to watch alone.  The camera work, casting and setting created a work of terrifying brilliance that still feels incredibly real to this day.  The scene where Danny rides his trike around the haunted corridors, makes you want to reach out and pull him back.  Positioning of the camera, behind the child, creates a vulnerable perspective and the tracking movement makes the horrific outcome feel rather inevitable.

If your child would like to learn more about camera skills, please click here.

Sarah Watson-Dramacube

Theatre & children provided great inspiration for Shirley Hughes CBE who was one of Britain’s beloved authors and definitely worth celebrating.  With a career spanning more than 70 years, Hughes was able to touch the lives of generations through her stories of early childhood.

Children dance in Shirley Hughes illustration

The Theatre of Children

Childhood

Hughes was born in West Kirby, on 16 July 1927.  Her father was the owner of a very famous department store (TJ Hughes) in Liverpool that made shopping more affordable for working class people.  Shirley’s mother, Kathleen, loved theatre and would often frequent the local playhouses with her daughter.

Education & Career: Inspired by Theatre

Inspired by local art galleries and theatres, Hughes decided to study Drawing and Costume Design at Liverpool School of Art.  She also attended the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford. Initially focussing on set design and costumes, Hughes was encouraged into the world of illustration by her tutor, and everything clicked into place.  Hughes felt that by choosing picture books, she could combine her love of both theatre and art because, “A book could be a little theatre.”

Dramacube presents The Wizard of Oz

Inspired by a love of theatre

Hughes started off illustrating books for other authors, including My Naughty Little Sister, by Dorothy Edwards.  Lucy and Tom’s Day was the first book that she both wrote and illustrated.  Shirley Hughes went on to illustrate more than 200 children’s book which sold 10 million copies- Alfie and Dogger being the firm favourites amongst fans.  Hughes also went on to write books for young adults and novels.

Later Life

Hughes married her husband, John, in 1970 and moved into a townhouse, in a rundown, Notting Hill.  The house had a communal garden which was always full of children, and they went on to have 3 of their own- one of which became an illustrator themselves!

Awards

Dogger, written in 1977 was recognised by the Library Association’s Kate Greenaway Medal as the year’s best children’s book illustration by a British subject and voted the Greenaway of Greenaways in a public vote of the top ten all-time favourite children’s book.  Hughes was awarded a 2nd Greenaway for Ella’s Big Chance in 2003.  The first ever BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Hughes by Michael Morpurgo in 2015 and she was awarded an OBE and CBE for her services to literature.

If you think your child or teenager could be inspired by theatre please click here.

Sarah Watson-Dramacube