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     English Wordplay ~ Listen and Enjoy

Audio Plays Written and Performed by Students

Schools using Drama and having fun to improve English

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University of Wales

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Creative Studies Scriptwriting students create their own radio plays.

Drama Schools

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  1. Birmingham School of Acting
  2. Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

Drama School students have great fun writing and performing their own short radio plays, directed by Shaun MacLoughlin.  This exercise gives them greater insight into how radio drama works and develops another, rewarding skill as a writer, whenever they are "resting" as an actor.

Comprehensive Schools

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  1. Monks Park School, Bristol
  2. Brislington School, Bristol
  3. Portway School, Bristol
  4. Henbury School, Bristol

The City Learning Centre in Bristol was awarded a grant to produce a sequential murder mystery with the students of four schools.  With the help of writer John Fletcher, actors Bonnie Hurren, Barbara Kellerman and Christian Rodska, sound engineer Jonathan Lane and producers Tom Bennett and Shaun MacLoughlin to mentor and participate, the children wrote and performed four episodes of Murder at Penny Bottom Castle.

With a little encouragement it is remarkable what these learning difficulties children can achieve.

Primary Schools

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  1. St. Cuthbert's Catholic Primary School, Cardiff
  2. St. Mary's Primary School, Bute Town, Cardiff
  3. Mount Stuart Primary School, Cardiff

The Arts Council Wales have funded workshops, in which primary school children write and act in their own radio plays - and even create many of the sound effects.

With essential input from the class teachers, producers Tom Bennett and Shaun MacLoughlin achieved each of these plays in two half days sessions plus editing and playbacks.  Mornings were better for the sessions, as the children were more alert.  We arrived at the schools by 8 a.m. to set up microphones in one class room and recording equipment in another; thus creating the separation between studio and control room that we would have in a professional recording studio.  We built a tent of blankets and duvets, a 'dead' acoustic, around the microphone, ready to work with the children from just after 9 a.m.

The third - female - member of our group, an encouraging drama teacher or student gave the children warm up exercises.  We then played three short excerpts from children's radio plays: Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Just So Stories and E. Nesbitt's The Magic Circle.  Then we provided the children with scripts and got them to perform in front of the microphone. Tom recorded and monitored the recordings, our drama teacher shepherded the children and helped them make sound effects and I (Shaun MacLoughlin) directed their acting.  Finally we played back what they had done.

Throughout this process we asked them for ideas and incidents for radio plays.  These we wrote up on the classroom whiteboard and started to storyboard the children's inspirations.  We then left the class teacher and the children to complete the scripts over the period of the next ten days or so.

At the second session we returned to record the plays.  Since we could not cast every child in classes of up to twenty five, we got many of them to draw pictures and to write short descriptions to accompany the recordings of the plays on our website.  This way everybody could feel involved.

Tom Bennett edited the plays and the most rewarding part of the exercise was to return to the schools for a playback, and to present the children with CD's of their achievements.

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