This is a moment that happens in your Drama classroom

by Jo Riley | 14 January 2019

You don’t have to do everything, you just have to do something.
Dewitt 43

What happened to me
This is a moment that happens in your Drama classroom as it happens in mine. We are devising monologues based on a stimulus (in this case ‘Perfect’ by Alanis Morissette). A student approaches me and asks if they can perform a piece ripping up the dress Mum insists the character wear. Can they take a dress from the costume room and rip it up on stage? Of course, no problem, great idea, go for it. But the idea slides into the undergrowth and is never mentioned again.

The disappearance of a great idea came about because I failed that student and their peers to provide a safe space where all great ideas are worth a shot, an exploration, a discovery, a building, a trashing and a beginning again.

A safe space
Jonothan Neelands (Neelands 4) suggested four key conditions of making theatre:

I wonder if I can adapt this to present needs and I would top my list with:

A safe space is located at the tip of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In this pyramid, self-fulfillment, which I will assume to be the precondition of being able to dare to create, can only come about when basic needs and psychological needs are met. Students must feel physically safe in the Drama studio and they must feel psychologically safe in order to:

  • create and present drama;
  • develop skills specific to the discipline;
  • engage in a process of creative exploration and (self-)discovery;
  • make purposeful connections between investigation and practice;
  • understand the relationship between drama and its contexts;
  • respond to and reflect on drama;
  • deepen their understanding of the world.

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