Summer project 2016- The Chuckle Club!

This half term, we did something completely different… we ran a 4 day intensive comedy course called The Chuckle Club!


We have noticed over the year, that a lot of our members are quite funny… actually not quite funny, but REALLY funny!  Whether is is making us laugh with crazy characters or telling us stories about what they get up to at school or with their siblings and friends, it’s clear that they have natural talent.

So, this got us thinking… so much so that we designed a new course around them!

Maddy and Maeve, who let’s face it both like to laugh a lot, got to work on how to teach comedy.  They discovered that it’s quite hard to put your finger on what actually makes something funny!  So a couple of hours of watching sketches and stand-up on YouTube, chatting about how they both go about creating work, and reading up on what other people do to teach comedy,. Maddy and Maeve found a really simple structure to follow.


Day 1 – Sketch Comedy

Our members arrived on day one having been swotting up on jokes from their joke books in preparation for the course – which was brilliant, because it meant that straight away they could share some funnies, make each other laugh and get to know each other – there were a mixture of Saturday and Sunday members, so some people didn’t know each other at all, which was a bit nerve-wracking to begin with.  Soon enough though, after a few games and some discussion, we forgot all about that and were getting on like a house on fire!

A big part of comedy and improvisation is the importance of not allowing your brain to censor itself, so we started out with a lot of games and activities that revolved around getting  rid of all the ‘logical’ stuff so that the crazy/ funny/ silly stuff could come out.   One of these exercises involves imagining that you are reaching into a big box and pulling stuff out – as you do so you name the stuff. This was strange at first, but everyone soon got used to it not making sense any more.

We then looked at some examples of sketches on YouTube… like this one:

Through this, we started to learnt about things like:

Juxtaposition – when two things are put together to show how the contrast with each other e.g. Made In Chelsea behaviour but with people on an estate in Peckham. 

Inversion – when you flip an idea on its head to make it funny.

Repetition – repeating an action, phrase or idea e.g. the head movements in the video.

The members went off in groups and thought about the following things:

Thinkig about people and public places

  • People you find there
  • ‘Normal’ activities and/or emotions you see there
  • Not ‘Normal’ activities/emotions
  • Not ‘Normal’ people you’d find there

They came up with some brilliant ideas!

Once they’d picked the ones they wanted to work on, everyone started to make there scenes and we asked them to concentrate really hard on making sure they knew:






We spend the whole afternoon, working on bits, showing them back, getting feedback, and improving further.

We ended up with Justin Bieber as a maths teacher, Jeremy Kyle getting sacked and misbehaving in public, The Queen wanting to go and do normal stuff, like going to the swimming baths with her chauffeur… it’s safe to say that using Juxtaposition wasn’t a challenge for these guys!


Day 2 – Stand up

After a brilliant first day, we got on to something a bit more challenge and for some… SCARY – Stand up comedy!

After playing some warm up games like Giants, Wizards and Elves, Bing Bong Choir and Sharky Sharky…

We got on with deconstructing the art of the Stand-Up Comedy ‘bit’.  Some of this stuff is quite hard to work out – we know we find something funny, but often we don’t know why!   To help us, again we watched a few examples to see if we could work it out…

We found that there is kind of a formula to a lot of stand up routines… it goes a bit like this:

  1. Explain a thing
  2. Give your opinion about
  3. Imagine what might happen if …………….(???) (make it as big, silly or unexpected as possible)
  4. Act out your imagined scene, playing all the characters


To help stimulate the ideas, we wanted everyone think about things that were personal to them… so we asked them to brainstorm:

1) Favourite things:

2) Things you hate:

3) Favourite or Did you know? facts:

4) Things you love and/or hate about:

Celebrities, School, Kids, manners, spelling, grammar, lies, adverts, lyrics, sayings… you get the idea.

Everyone then went away and worked out what they wanted to say – some worked in pairs so they could bounce ideas off each other. They came up with some brilliant material, so brilliant sometimes it felt like they were seasoned professionals!

 Day 3 – develop and rehearse

Day 3, was the day for people to decide what type of comedy, they wanted to develop further.  Some people felt that sketch comedy suited them better, but others really like the challenge of doing stand up, and many had formed double-acts with other members.

So we split up, with Maeve and Kulraj working with the stand-ups and Maddy with the sketch comedy team – even managed to develop on of the sketch ideas from Day 1 into a sketch that the whole group could be in too.



Day 4 – The show!

Sadly, all good things come to an end.  The last day was mainly about finalizing the routines, making a running order and preparing to welcome our audience!

However, we did do some feedback too on how we thought the week went…

“I liked figuring out how to do it with friends, so they helped”

“I have learnt how to be funny”

“I’ve made new friends!”

“I have learnt new things like sketch and I really enjoy it.”

“My confidence increased. This is because I knew it was more trial and error and nobody would judge.”

“(I have learnt)… to be louder”

“I liked that when we was doing the comedy we weren’t just doing it straight away, we got to plan it.”  

“I learned to get to know new people because I didn’t really know them.”  

And now…

For your viewing pleasure…

The Final Show!!

Gala Term!

From early January it was all steam ahead to start to make our shows for the Gala in March.  Over the Christmas break, the team had come together with all of the ideas and material the young people generated and began to piece it all together.  There was already some really impressive stuff, so it wasn’t difficult to put it all into a skeleton ‘script’ for us to follow once we got into rehearsals.


Script for the Sunday M show, The Music Box (c) 2016 DreamArts

Developing Teamwork

With so much great material, one of the biggest challenges was making sure that everyone gets their fair share of stage time and that their ideas are included as much as possible.  In the past we spent the first two weeks doing an audition workshop and then auditions for the characters in the shows, however, this year, because everyone created their own characters that we used as a basis for our stories, there was no need…  however, that also meant that sometimes the character had to change a bit to make sure it fit in with the story.   One thing that is so brilliant about our members is their openness to doing things differently, and that they genuinely care whether everyone is happy.  This means that they are really good at making compromises, including each other and being generous with each other. For some this meant playing a different character to the one they had developed, or having their character made into a pair of characters, or suddenly being really mean when once they were nice (or visa versa!).

Although, sometimes, good teamwork, just means that everyone gets involved – even the other tutors (they didn’t stay for the push-ups though!)



Enhancing Creative Skills

After our research and development (aka R&D) in the Autumn we had come up with a solid framework for our stories. This meant that our challenge then became about filling in the gaps: i.e. the scenes, what is said and what actually happens moment to moment.  All of our members have had some experience of improvising scenarios, so this part came fairly naturally to many, however what is more of a challenge is to make the scenes have clear structure that feeds into the story.  This is much harder!

Our Senior members, worked in a particular way to help solve this. Their show, Trails of the Paragons followed the lives of three young women, the characters having been developed through a group activity called ‘Role on the Wall’.



These three stories were divided roughly into three main scenes each: beginning, middle and end.  Because we had co-created the characters and loosely plotted things going on in their lives in the Autumn, we were all able to share the job of devising the actual scenes for the show. Each week, three groups of actors and a director (members decided for themselves who would be the director each time), would take on one section of each character’s story. Using the skeleton script as a guide, they would make their scene roughly, come back with the whole group and share the ‘work-in-progress’.  The group would then give their feedback and ideas for things to develop.  The different scenes would then be rehearsed again to incorporate the new notes.  These groups rotated each week to explore different character stories.  This meant that in the end everyone knew all the stories and had contributed to the entire piece.

This made our rehearsals later in the process so much quicker!  Once it was established who would play what, we were able to jump in and take up the scenes, finesse, give direction, polish… and add our more ‘theatrical’ unifying narrative in – the Paragons, who are half God, half Human and play a hand in the fates of the human characters on earth.


By the time we got to putting our songs and choreography into the scenes, we all knew really well what was going on and felt really confident in our characters and that their narratives all made sense.


This year’s gala, instead of being in a West End Venue, was at the Sarah Siddons Theatre at City of Westminster  college – as lovely as it is to be in a West End theatre, what was brilliant about this year, was that we could have bits of set for our shows and had a tech day to spend plotting the lighting which was such a privildge. Usually in the past we had been working on another company’s set so we had just had to make the best of it withough moving or changing anything – having more production elements made such a difference!

Everyone was nervous, but they needn’t have been – they did a fantastic job!   Our audience feedback says it all:

“Really impressive especially because they wrote the script themselves!”

“Fun and interesting for big and small. We wanted more because we loved it.”

“It was very creative and inspirational!”

“This was a very inventive production. The very young children charmed the audience with their creativity.”

“My 1st time enjoyed it very much. I’m coming back again. They all did a great job!!!”

“It was very good as it helps the kids to get confidence as well as keeps them from mischief.”

“What an amazing experience – such fantastic performances – speechless. This work must continue.”


And of course there must be photos!  (Many thanks to the brilliant Greg Veit Photography)


Autumn 2015 – New beginnings


The new year for DreamArts Weekend Company brought some BIG changes… We have new staff members; Saturday Acting Tutor, Maeve Ryan, and Youth Support Workers, Teisha Salmon, Zalika Henry, Jessica Martin and Grace Higgins. Kulraj took on a new role as Project Coordinator for weekends. Finally, Weekend Programme Manager, Maddy, while remaining in charge of the overall proramme, will also be taking on the role of Director of the new Seniors Performance Company.

We have also extended the lower age limit for Juniors to 7 yrs and decided to split the Juniors into two groups: 7-9 year olds and 10-12 year olds.  This has meant that we are now able to cover new themes, and work at a level that is better suited for the members at any age – we know there’s a big difference between what you like when you are 8 to what you like when you are 12!

We had 3 aims for our work this term.  They were:

  • Devise a group theme
  • Develop Creative Skills
  • Greater teamworking skills

Devise a group theme

One of the biggest changes that has happened is that for the first time, we started to work on devising our own original musical shows for our annual Gala performance in March 2016.

This has meant that the members can explore their own ideas, work more closely together to create their own group work and get the most out of the opportunity for skills development.  We have found that while the popular musical choices are always very successful, it is often quite limiting in the kind of stories and roles that the members get to play – we believe that giving our members the chance to create their own roles and stories is an ideal progression from the work that they already do.

The groups used lots of different methods to come up with stories.  Some used wigs and hats to find interesting characters and then the group did lots of improvisations to come up with situtions the characters might be in.  Other times, they discussed a theme – the groups had these as starting stimuli:

Saturday 7-9 yrs – LOVE

Saturday 10-12 yrs – ALIEN/ALIENATION

Sunday 7-9 yrs -URBAN vs JUNGLE

Sunday 10-12 yrs – TIME, THREAD and A MUSIC BOX. 

They talked about their experiences and ideas about their themes; some sharing stories of things that had happened to them, or their reactions to the topic and how it made them feel.  It was so interesting to hear what everyone thought and often we realised that we have a lot more in common with each other than we ever thought before!  This was great, because it meant we were making new friends too – some of our members realised that although they were in the same school, they hadn’t ever met each other before DreamArts and so now they have someone new to hang out with at breaks!

No spoilers allowed here, but we can confirm that by the end of term, all the groups had come up with truly AMAZING stories!

Develop Creative Skills

The focus for the term was very much about everyone being able to come up with ideas, play to their strenghts a bit, but also explore situations and characters that might be a bit of a challenge too… so they needed lots of different skills to what they’ve explored in the past.

Devising is basically a posh work for saying ‘making up your own story’, so the group leartn lots of ways to do this.   Improvisation is a very useful skill when devising a story.  Many directors and teachers have different ways of approaching this, but for many of our classes it was about being given something to inspire them, like a hat or a wig.  For some it was an emotion, like Love or like this one, Friendship…

or sometimes it was just all about playing PARK BENCH!

The Sunday 7-9 yr olds explored environments – particularly the jungle vs the urban… here they are doing some movment improvisation exploring transport!

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Greater teamworking skills

A big part of the work for all the groups was working together to create something completely new – this term more than ever, everyone has really had to find a way to share their ideas and learn to listen carefully to others.

In particular, the Senior Performance Company (that’s  members aged 13-19yrs) really had some challenges to face, as their piece, much more than the others was based on their lives, their experiences, and their views and opinions about the world at large.   The group found it quite difficult at first to say what they really thought about things, because they were a bit worried about sounding silly or maybe saying something ‘too weird’!   This became really clear when they started to do impro exercises – something everyone found hard, mainly because it relies so much on not censoring yourself! It can be really scary to get up on stage and just ‘come up with something’… we had to find a way around this and stop it feeling so risky.

We broke it all down and talked about our hopes and fears around improvisation and it became really clear that we were all worried about, but hoped for the same things – even the staff!

For fears, we said things like:

‘I don’t want to run out of things to say or do.’

‘Freezing and not knowing what to say.’

‘Making it boring.’

If I have to get up and then what I do fails completely.

‘Making myself look stupid.’

‘Saying something really weird and everyone thinking I’m nuts.’

‘Being embarrassed – not knowing what to do next.’

‘Not make the right choices.’

‘Not having enough confidence to go along with the storyline.’

‘I don’t want to block someone coming up with an idea at the start.’


For our hopes we said things like:

‘That I can use this technique in my everyday life or when I am in trouble.’

‘Discover parts of my personality that I don’t usually let out.’

‘Discover! Have fun!’

‘Improve my ability to think on the spot.’

‘Have fun with someone else.’

‘Knowing how to use it in real life situations, like at a job interview or when something bad comes up (a problem).’

‘Becoming comfortable around other people.’

‘I want to build on my range of characters and confidence.’

‘Keep my brain fresh.’

‘Becoming more confident with sharing ideas with people.’

‘It would be funny.’

This sharing of our deepest darkest fears about stepping out on stage really helped us to understand not only the things that hold us back personally, but also made us realise that we all have a lot more in common than we thought.  It meant that the actors felt a lot more trusting that they could try stuff out and people would support them, even if their idea took a complete nose-dive!

Later on when they started to improvise with the characters from our play and put them in  situations from the story to see how they behaved, they found it so much easier to take a risk and give or recieve feedback in a construcitve way.  We all shared the process, swaping roles and sections of the story, building on what another person or group had come up with before, even taking on the role of Director – it felt really good to be able to take ownership over all parts of the story, not just the bit that they were directly involved in.   This was very different from how we’d worked in the past, where one person would be given a particular part and had to just learn their lines ane remember their blocking!

We definitely learned how to be an ensemble this year!


SNRs Box sceneSnrs Box scene 1

(C) 2015 DreamArts



We are very excited to soon be starting the new academic year and we have lots of exciting news!


While Lynieve, Paradigmz and Alejandro will remain as Singing, Dance and Sunday Acting Tutor respectively, this term we are very happy to welcome some new team members; Saturday Acting Tutor, Maeve Ryan, and Youth Support Workers, Jessica Martin, Grace Higgins, Teisha Salmon and Zalika Henry.

We also are happy to announce that Kulraj Thethy will taking on a new role as Project Coordinator for weekends.  Finally, Programme Manager, Maddy Smith will be taking on the Seniors as Acting Tutor.

(c) 2015 DreamArts Gala by Greg Veit Photograph


We have also made some changes to the age groups we will be working with.  We have decided to split the Juniors into two groups: 7-9 year olds and 10-12 year olds, which means we can accept children a year younger than previously. It also means that we will be able to cover new themes, and work at a level which is more specifically age appropriate to our members.


(c) 2015 DreamArts Gala by Greg Veit Photograph


After piloting the idea over the last two summer terms, the two Seniors groups will now be forming one new Performance Company, that will meet on Sunday afternoons only at City of Westminster College.  This decision has been driven partly by the make-up of the membership of the existing Seniors, which is predominantly Sunday members.  While it means that some will need to travel further, the group will be larger and a lot more robust. We will also be able to undertake work that has been impossible to do within the current format and group size on a Saturday – most importantly, this will ultimately provide huge learning benefits to all the Senior members.

The term details are as follows:

Dates:                   Saturday 3rd October – Saturday 21st November @ Pimilco Academy, SW1V


Sunday 4th October – Sunday 22nd November @ City of Westminster College W2

Times:                  Juniors: 10.30am – 3pm

                             Seniors (*SUNDAY ONLY): 1.30pm – 5pm

Cost:                      £35.00 (payable in full by Week 4 please)

Uniforms:           Uniforms cost £12.00 and they are COMPULSORY FOR ALL MEMBERS. We will be fining £1.50 for anyone attending without one.  (This is not because we are trying to be difficult, but because it means they are easily identifiable in a building which has many groups of people in it.)

File 05-03-2015 14 38 24


In addition to the new groups, we have also decided to alter the way in which we work with our members.  We will now be 2 running sessions per day for each group which are 1hr 45mins each.  Acting will remain a constant, with Singing and Dancing alternating weekly.  This will mean that the work we do with our members will have a lot more potential to explore the personal development side of our work, along with performance skills development.  Additionally, it allow more time for reflection on what they are discovering

Finally, the members will now be getting the opportunity to devise their very own new musical show!  This will mean they can explore their own ideas, work more closely together to create their own group work and get the most out of the opportunity for skills development.  We have found that while the popular musical choices are always very successful, it is often quite limiting in the kind of stories and roles that the young people get to play – we believe that giving our members the chance to create their own roles and stories is an ideal progression from the work that they already do.

(c) 2015 DreamArts

If you have any questions regarding the above please do not hesitate to contact me either by email or on 07951 921 247.


Best wishes



(c) 2015 DreamArts

Summer Term Special Projects (Seniors) – 2015


in partnership with 

Yaa Asantewaa Arts



Of course no self-respecting movie producer would let a such a ground-breaking work go by without a making of blog…


… the making of a cinematic FEAST! 

The Summer term 2015 was really exciting as we have been something completely new! Instead of live performance, we decided to focus on film-making this year with a really fun, but challenging project over four Sundays in June.  We felt that our members would really enjoy and benefit from exploring some different skills. So, our guerrilla film-making challenge means that not only did they get to act, they also got a chance to try screen-writing, directing, technical film-making, camera operation, costume, set, props – you name it, they did it… ALL of it! For this project we worked with Director, Writer and Arts Facilitator, Rachel Creeger.  Rachel has many years’ experience working not only as a professional director and writer, but also as a youth arts worker and social worker.  She also designed this project so she’s pretty clever!  Alongside her was film-maker, Michal McEwen, taking on the role as Film Tutor.

The Seniors were particularly lucky as for this particular project,  we partnered up with the legendary carnival arts company, Yaa Asantewaa Arts. Not only were we based in their building for our sessions, we were also given very privileged access to their carnival costumes and their very clever designer, Caroline Muraldo.

Devise a group theme

Greater teamworking skills

Develop Creative Skills


Devising a group theme…

In some ways this was already started for them, as we had agreed that the theme would be carnival as we were partnering with one of the leading Carnival Arts companies!  However, there was still  a great deal of work to be done!  While the theme was carnival, we had to come up with characters and a storyline – no mean feat!

To begin with Rachel gave the members the task of brainstorming ideas around carnival…


(c) 2015 DreamArts


(c) 2015 DreamArts


(c) 2015 DreamArts

From these we then took out the best ideas and the things that people felt they wanted to include in our story.


(c) 2015 DreamArts

Caroline from Yaa also talked to us about some of the history of carnival and how it started.  We felt that this was really important to include some of that somehow too…

After that, we got some character inspiration from Rachel’s magnificent hat collection

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From these, everyone wrote down some notes about a character inspired by the hat and then improvised a bit of ‘hot-seating’…

We then chose a mask each and repeated the process…

From there, we started to work out what we might want our story to be about, we split off into small groups and got planning!

These are some of the ideas we suggested… they were remarkably similar in many ways!


Greater teamworking…

The group for this project was a mixture of regular Sunday members, some new members and a regular Saturday member, so it could have potentially been difficult for the newer people to feel comfortable, but after the first morning it felt like everyone started to relax and be able to focus on the task in hand i.e. getting the film made.  This first day was also the most taxing in terms of planning and discussions, but everyone really took time to include everyone’s ideas and to work together to make the story the best it could be.

 (c) 2015 DreamArts

Once we started shooting, the team really came into its own – it takes great communication and coordination for a film crew to be effective.   Everyone had their role to play – on sound, clapper loader, camera operator, director and many more.  They are all equally important and so it was great that everyone really go into their role, taking responsibility for each other and making sure everyone knew what was going on!

Developing Creative Skills…

While some people had experimented with making movies on their phones, most of the group had not made a film this sophisticated before, so they had to get some instruction on basic filming techniques.  Once they had the this though, they were off, doing it for themselves…

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In addition to the filming, the groups also created their own special effects, sets, props and costumes – in addition to the carnival ones kindly lent by Caroline!


What was really great about the project, was that everyone, event the members who have been coming to DreamArts for a long time, really learnt something completely new and it was really great as practitioners, to hear the ideas of the members as they created their own stories – they are brilliantly imaginative (as if there had been any doubt before, mind you!)

80% of the young people said that they had improved their ability to develop positive relationships with their peers and adults.

70% Said that they had improved at exploring their own views, thoughts and feelings.

90% had improved their ability to share their ideas.

60% said they felt more confident to take a lead.

70% felt better at showing their skills and taking a creative risk.

100% said that they were now more open to learning new skills.

Here is what some of them had to say:

I learnt how to use a camera and also edit.’

‘I achieved the confidence to take the lead and share my ideas whilst making friends.’

‘… to be able to film from different angles and whole scenes.’

‘… to create a storyline about a project and it was really fun!’

‘I’ve learned how to use a professional camera…’

‘… confidence, editing skills and more friends…’

‘… I’m very proud of the filming I’ve produced.’

Summer Term Special Projects (Juniors) – 2015


Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,

We are writing to you to inform you of our spectacular film of comical horror. 

WORKHOUSE HORROR will be the funniest, most petrifying movie to come out this century!  With hilarious 
costumes, yet terrifying creatures, this film will 
leave you wanting more...

This film is better than The Shining and Alvin and the Chipmunks put together because this mixture of scary 
humour will leave you both satisfied but also with an 
 urge to hide behind your pillow.  Nothing could beat 

Our professional actors and film crew really brought it together.  We hope you enjoy our 
magnificent, marvellous movie.

Yours faithfully,

DreamArts Juniors. 


DreamArts is proud to present…


And now…

the making of the masterpiece!




(c) 2015 DreamArts

The Summer term 2015 was going to be really exciting as we are doing something completely new! Instead of live performance, we decided to focus on film-making this year with a really fun, but challenging week during half-term in May.  We felt that our members would really enjoy and benefit from exploring some different skills. So, our guerrilla film-making challenge means that not only did they get to act, they also got a chance to try screen-writing, directing, technical film-making, camera operation, costume, set, props – you name it, they did it… ALL of it! For this project we worked with Director, Writer and Arts Facilitator, Rachel Creeger.  Rachel has many years’ experience working not only as a professional director and writer, but also as a youth arts worker and social worker.  She also designed this project so she’s pretty clever!


Rachel Creeger (c) 2015 DreamArts


(c) 2015 DreamArts

She brought with her film-maker Jamie Lang and they were both  a fantastic additions to the team for the Summer! The structure of the project goes something like this… DAY 1 Morning:  Meet the team, decide on a movie genre, story planning, character development, finalising structure of our 6 scenes, plus introduction to the Film Crew and shooting strategy. Afternoon:  Split into 3 teams – Acting/Writing, Film Crew, Costume/Props/Set Dept., plan Scene 1 and then… FILM SCENE 1!! DAYS  2 & 3 Morning:  View rushes, plan and shoot scenes for the day Afternoon:  Plan and shoot scenes for the day DAY 4 Morning:  View rushes, plan and shoot scenes for the day Afternoon:  Shoot final scenes, plan finale/credits sequence, and shoot!


(c) 2015 DreamArts

Apart from having LOADS of fun, we had three main areas that we wanted out members to benefit in: Devise a Group Theme Develop Creative Skills Greater Team-working skills * Devising a Group Theme On the first morning we shared what our favourite films/kinds of films were and why we liked them.  From that discussion we found of what kinds of films the group were familiar with.  They said:

Mystery, Adventure, Horror, Action, Fairy Tale, Comedy, Western, Buddy movie, and Romance

(c) 2015 DreamArts

Horror was a clear winner with Comedy coming in a close second.  A few people also mentioned Adventure and Buddy movies too, so we tried to include those elements too though, so everyone got their ideas included. After that we thought of all the typical characters and locations you might find in a Horror movie:


(c) 2105 DreamArts


(c) 2015 DreamArts

Once we’d all shared our ideas, we then talked about which ones we thought the most interesting and what would be possible to create with the resources we had available – for example it’s all very well wanting to make Fast & Furious 8 but did we have access to high performance cars?!


(c) 2015 DreamArts

The ideas of a graveyard, and old house or building, the workhouse and some kind of cupboard or doorway to another dimension proved the most interesting.  Everyone was really keen that there was an element of different times – like a flashback too. Keen to use the building we were in (the very lovely and modern City of Westminster College) to it’s full potential the idea that it may have been newly built on the site of something else.  In the church grounds next to the college there are some graves and a playground, so the group came up with the idea that it had been built on the site an old children’s workhouse where something bad had happened. When strange things start to happen in the present day, the characters begin to wonder what is going on?  Is something or someone from the past trying to tell them something??


(c) 2015 DreamArts

Crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeepy!  * Developing Creative Skills


A new addition to the team! (c) 2015 DreamArts

Most of our members came to this project having never used a film camera before, let alone boom mic, clapperboards, tripod etc! So when we set this challenge for them we wanted to make sure that they got the chance to try everything – not only being a film crew and acting, but also writing, directing, costume design, set and prop design and making… even writing a press release!


Everyday, once we had warmed-up and watched any rushes from the day before or discussed anything that needed a whole group decision, we split off into our teams.  These teams then were given a skill they were working on in that session (morning or afternoon) and then they rotate every session, so in the end everyone has got to do everything twice.


Secret negotiations in the ‘script tank’! (c) 2015 DreamArts

The Acting team would first go away and work with Rachel, with support from Charisse, to decide exactly what is going to happen in that scene as a group.  Each member would write their version of the scene – the group would then negotiate to see how they could come to an agreement and include most of the ideas.

(c) 2015 DreamArts

(c) 2015 DreamArts

Sometimes it’s not easy, but it is always really satisfying to see that everyone can work as team when they listen to each other!

After that they would then prepare an information sheet that would be sent around to the camera crew and the production design department.  This has all the details about what happens, what location it is in, what set and props are needed, which characters are included and so what costumes should be prepared or created – so pretty crucial as the other teams can’t finish their work until they know this!


(c) 2015 DreamArts


(c) 2015 DreamArts

Finally, they rehearse the scene and learn the lines!

Camera Crew

Jamie, our filmmaker for the project, took this group, supported by Kimberly. On their first session everyone talked through all the different jobs on a film set and what they thought they did.


(c) 2015 DreamArts

Everyone was given a job on the crew and then they were shown how to use the camera, the mics and how to set up the shots.  They also took some time to practice techniques like focusing, panning and zooming.

Once that was done they would go to the location and set up the shot, working out where the actors would stand or move to and deciding on what kind of shots they would take and from which angles.

Once the actors are ready, the crew take over the shooting of the scenes.  The Director calls the shots, the Clapper-Loader marks the shot numbers, the Sound team make sure they are capturing everything the actors say and the Camera person sets up the shots and pulls focus –by Day 4 they were operating like a finely-tuned machine in action!

Production Design

This covers anything that concerns the look of the film, but is normally covered by several different departments.  In our cast it was Costume, Props, Set, Make Up and Special Effects.  This was all run by Maddy with some support from Teisha. Because we were on such a tight schedule, it was really important that all the group worked fast and were able to focus on lots of different things to get the job done.  Lots of creative skills were required, from design,drawing, making, adapting, make-up… it’s probably the most challenging in terms of having to just jump in a work with what you have! For this project the team had the challenge of not only, designing sets and costumes for both the present and the past, but we also had to make some kind of portal to the past, and set up the special effects that made it look like things were moving on their own, transforming into something else or just completely disappearing! We had a low budget but great resources to work with and our young people rose to the challenge of finding creative solutions to practical problems!

The Costume Department was a really interesting challenge – how to suggest a character that is played by several different actors in the same story through costume? The teams got together and looked at the characteristics of each of the characters: were they innocent, brainy, bossy, a historian, a bit of a princess etc?  They made a list of those characteristics and then sorted through the costume boxes to find items to signify these things:  a monocle, a bowler hat, a sparkly hairband etc.

Once the costumes were decided, we put grouped them together ready for the actors to come in and try them on…

Of course that doesn’t mean it was all serious costume business… we had fun dressing up too!

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Encouraging greater teamworking skills This kind of project really is a team effort – it just doesn’t work if everyone is trying to make it work just for their own advantage.  Our members are already pretty good at this, as they spend much of the year working together to create their shows.  However, this project more than any other required them to put their own ideas forward, because it is ALL their work – no one has come in and written it before they start to work on it!  The staff support them and help to give them the skills to make it all happen, but beyond that, they’re on their own! There was a lot of discussion on the project from day one and everyone worked hard, not only to think of the best way to do things, but also how to include everyone too!  It was great to see!   Sometimes people can be a little shy, but by the end they had all grown confident enough to contribute in their own way and have others listen and accept their ideas – even the title of the film went to a vote!

Sometimes though, teamwork is just about making new friends and having fun, while you work!

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‘Dreamarts was awesome, I’ve made some new friends, and have gained my confidence, and had lots of fun! Thank you!’

‘I’ve learnt how to use a camera.’

‘I’ve learnt to go out of my comfort zone with costumes and characters.’

‘I’ve achieved how to be quiet and patient during important circumstances.’

‘I loved everything and everyone!’

‘I have achieved how to make a costume from scratch.’

‘I HAD FUN! :O)’


(c) 2015 DreamArts

Week 11 is when it all comes together – it’s when we get to run the pieces through with all the tutors, we add the band and musical director, the Stage Management team swing into action, schedules for the day in the Fortune Theatre are produced… it’s  a LOT of work and it really requires the whole team and all the members to work together to make it all happen!

(c) 2015 DreamArts

(c) 2015 DreamArts

It is also time for a bit of reflection about the whole process…

(c) 2015 DreamArts

(c) 2015 DreamArts

(c) 2015 DreamArts

(c) 2015 DreamArts

(c) 2015 DreamArts

(c) 2015 DreamArts

(c) 2015 DreamArts

(c) 2015 DreamArts

Lot of positive feedback from the members and staff is always a bonus. On things they have achieved this term that are important to them, our members said…

Confidence to perform in the West End

Learning how to dance

I became more confident around people I don’t know

I’ve got wway better at acting with risks

Having an important role

I’ve achieved projecting my voice very loudly

I’ve made new friends

I have learnt many more dance moves and have also learnt how to act a difference voice

Speaking up for myself

Dancing. I felt happy

I got a part that makes me laugh and show what I’ve got in me

Best of all though, the whole experience of the Gala day speaks for itself…

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Weeks 8 -10 – Time to get serious!

After our ‘stagger throughs’, it’s full steam ahead for the next couple of weeks, making sure that everyone knows what they are doing and tidying up missing bits and transitions between scenes.

Putting an evening like our Gala together is a bit of a marathon and as a result, at this point in term, everyone’s tiredness starts to show.  This happens in lots of ways – illness (which there is still a lot of and so more absences than is ideal!), but mainly forgetting lines or bits of choreography – these final weekends really were a battle for this sort of thing!   It’s a lot to ask, to get get your members to start to piece together the songs, the scenes and the dances – especially as some of them have never been in a play before, never mind an all singing, all dancing musical!

Having said all that, our brilliant young people are the ones who make this all work in the end, and these final rehearsal weeks are where some real start come into their own… not just performers, but leaders.  Many of the members, step up and take on roles that are more about encouraging and supporting their fellow members.



This takes many forms, teaching bits of choreography to those who’ve been away or are struggling, testing people on their lines, acting as a 2nd eye for the director to make sure everything looks as it should, being leaders for the ensemble to ensure that the blocking is correct when the main action is happening… even just being a good friend when someone feels nervous, stressed or upset.

Plus this week we started to add props into the scenes too… just to make it REALLY challenging!

Like this one, that Maddy had to carry about on the tube… can you tell what it is?


We also got our costume fittings going in full effect in these final weeks… the lovely Miranda has been rooting through our costume cupboard and her own supply at home and is mostly now seen carrying around large suitcases at weekends!



Dresses for Cinderella’s nasty step-sisters.


  Rapunzel meets her hair!

Week 7 – Stagger through the shows…

This week we all came together over the weekend to see the first run… or at least ‘stagger’ through the shows.  It was really exciting to see how all the hard work was beginning to pay off.

All the groups have really challenged themselves to learn everything… despite there being lots of absences due to illness and school stuff.  They are really working together as a team and supporting each other – some people stepping in as understudies, or even taking over one or two roles as one or two people found they had to drop out.  They’ve also shown really brilliant leadership skills by helping each other rehearse while they are waiting for their headshots…

Everyone also got their headshots taken by Greg the photographer, which was really fun!  It made everyone feel really professional!


Here’s what ‘M’ who is in the Saturday Juniors had to say about the day:

‘This week we have been doing a very important rehearsal.  We have combined all our lessons (singing, acting and dancing) and have done a full run through.  Most of the class know all their lines and we are acknowledging our positiions i.e. off stage, stage left etc.  

Everyone is really excited.  We haven’t reached the tummy butterflies but people are becoming curious about what the gala and stage is going to be like for the new joiners.  The past few galas have been successful so we have a lot to do, be we are almost there and we know we can do it!’