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Supporting Jollyboat, Knaresborough: 22nd June

Brig-Aid Fundraiser, Fruit, Hull: 23rd June

Slam Dunk, Hastings: 28th June

Word Club, Leeds: 29th June

Verse Matters, Sheffield, 5th July

Say Owt @ Deer Shed Festival, 21st July

Say Owt @ Great Yorkshire Fringe, York: 25th July

Working Title, Lancaster, 26th July

Nerd Punk, Edinburgh fringe @Banshee Labyrinth 19.50 13th August

Poetry Jam, Durham: 4th October

Saturday, 17 October 2015

20.15 Blog #11 Be Chronos: Workshop planning & delivery

20.15 Blog #11 Be Chronos:  Workshop planning & delivery

There’s nothing like the revelation that a music single you remember having a profound effect on your musical tastes came out 10 years ago to make you reflective.

(for the record, the single was I Bet You Look Good On The dance Floor by t’Arctic Thunkies and I hated them at the time)

I have been leading workshops in youth theatre, schools and for adults for about 2 years now.  It came from the decision to really try and push myself as a freelance artist.  If I’m honest, most of my income comes from workshops.  I gig all the time, but I find gigs are for travel expenses or for charities or local low-funded events.  At least, that’s my perspective.  I’m far from an expert.  I have loads to learn.  I also have 3 workshops I need to be planning instead of this blog.  It’s putting my thoughts down neatly to I can control them.  But that’s a freelance time management skill to wrestle.  You need to control time. 

Be Chronos.

I’m doing a term as an artist in residence at a Primary School looking at Greek Myths.  They’re a bloody bunch.

(the Greek Titians/Monsters/Heroes/Gods.  Not the kids)

I spent a good time stressing about how you lead workshops.  How.  Do.  You.  Lead.  Workshops?  I worried about discipline, construct, content, standard, inclusiveness and enjoyability.  I shouldn’t have worried, but just considered.

I am really grateful for York Theatre Royal for giving me my first opportunities with young people leading sessions, as well as friends for looking over my workshop plans and being someone to check against/with.

The fact is, not every workshop needs to change someone’s life.  And if it’s for teenagers, they might look like they hate your guts and want to tear you apart.  They probably do.  But you can run faster than them, and hopefully own a car.  You can’t judge your skills on every single encounter with a group, and you can’t chalk up hits and misses.  It ain’t boxing (though it might feel more painful).

I always write aims/objectives at the top of my plan.  Keep a track of it, even if it’s ‘Make sure XXX is engaged’, ‘get to learn names’ or ‘finish scene’. 

My style is often relaxed.  I try and crack jokes, I’m not always overly disciplined, and on reflection could be a tad more.  But I do like to move at pace.  I give people 15 mins, I usually mean 13.  I like to keep people moving and thinking.  I use a stopwatch.  Even when everyone is engaged and scribbling away or merrily devising, I like to keep an eye on the time.

Try to predict times.  Don’t worry about times.  Keep a track of times.  Always leave plenty at the end.  Time is important.  You can’t control it.  You are in charge of time.  It’s your decision.  Tame it.  Bow to it.  Just make sure you wear a watch.  Be Chronos.

But I think the most important lesson I’ve learnt (read:  I am learning) is about passion:

I have found over the past year or so there have been times my energy levels have waned, or I haven’t planned the workshop as well as I might have, or taken particular care over a certain aspect.  As much as the other factors need addressing, always bear this in mind and you won’t go far wrong, I reckon.
But what you can do is go into each workshop with enthusiasm, because at the very least if you show you care, then that’s an important lesson in artistic-based work.  That someone actually has investment in their delivery, which does have an impact in the people you’re working with.

But I’m talking about Chronos, the embodiment of time in Greek Mythology.  Not the titian of the same Mythology, Cronus.  Cos he ate children.  Top tip:  if you do that, you might not be invited back. 

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