Muddy reviews: Creation Theatre’s online drama club
This engaging and innovative new online drama club is a brilliant way of exploring classic literature and ways of storytelling and if your idea of a Zoom call involves sitting still and glazing over in front of a screen, think again.
Lucky me, I have two kids at home who are the worlds’ biggest drama queens, so I jumped at the chance to sign them up for Creation Theatre‘s online drama club, which delves into fresh ways of storytelling and interacting with some of our best loved childhood stories.
I’ll be honest and say that my 7 and 10 year olds are initially a bit unenthusiastic about yet another video call, as they’ve been craving off-screen interaction more than anything, but bribery and chocolate win the day, as always, and they don the required comfy clothes and set up the laptop ready to go.
Fifteen friendly faces pop up on screen, plus Andy the class leader (pictured above) who is also a professional actor, and Fiona, the group moderator. It’s worth noting that safeguarding measures are in place and the kids are asked not to do the call from their rooms and to keep doors open. Each child takes it in turns to introduce themselves and this works well on Zoom as Andy is able to mute and unmute as needed to avoid everyone talking at once. Our group is called Sprites, which is aimed at 5-10 year olds, but there is another group called Mechanics for 11-16 year olds too, and the 60 minute sessions take place each week.
Prior to getting started, we’ve been emailed a support pack, which includes some activities relating to the class such as postcards and puzzles, so we already know that we’ll be focusing on Edith Nesbit’s children’s classic, The Railway Children today with the class going on to explore a different work of children’s literature each week.
Andy is upbeat and tuned in to the kids and to kick things off he gives a brief synopsis of Edith Nesbit’s life (she wrote a whopping 98 books including Five Children and It), before asking the kids to all run off very quickly and find three items from around the house that they would take with them on a train journey. They come back with a selection of random things from slippers to lemons. The children then have to act out boarding the train with their possessions and pretend they are sitting on the train as it moves, meaning that the class involves much more than sitting down and starring at the screen, there’s plenty of physical activity and moving about.
Next up is a lovely exercise that all the class members engage with really well. In the novel, one of the children, Peter, uses his stamp collection to try to communicate with someone to find out what country they come from, so Andy shows images of a variety of international postage stamps and asks the class if they can identify what country the stamps originate from. Most members of the group get a chance to speak, and there’s a lovely democratic feeling to the group that I think would possibly be more challenging to achieve in person, given that there is always a more dominant child in the group. Gotta love that mute function.
The hour is wizzing by and the final group activity focuses on the character of Mr. Perks, the station porter. In the book, the children discover that Mr. Perks doesn’t celebrate his birthday, so they ask the villagers to give him gifts. In this exercise the class play a memory game where they have to remember what each member of the class before them choses to give Mr. Perks as a birthday gift and it is quite hilarious hearing some of the things the kids come up with, from a mouse to a potato. There’s plenty of laughter and lots of concentration required and this witty and fast-past class keeps the Mudlings completely engaged for the full hour and enthusiastic for more.
Find out more and sign up for Creation Theatre’s Home Delivery digital adventures here.