How to make a remote play

This week we have a post from Inas Younis Shurrab, a teacher of English based in Khan Younis Gaza, who has been involved in the Hands Up Project for a long time. Inas has written a report about the remote theatre training course for teachers that she recently conducted with 2 other experienced remote theatre specialists (Amani and Imad) from the South of Gaza. Please read it carefully. It contains some really useful tips if you are planning to submit a play for this year’s competition.

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How to make a  Remote Theatre Play – a report on the workshop for teachers we conducted.

Written by : Inas Younis Shurrab

November 2019

Day and date: Tuesday 29th October 2019

Place : Bani Suhaila Prep. Girls School -Khanyounis

Time : 11:00 am – 12: 15 pm.

Prepared by :  T. Inas Younis Shurrab  – T. Amani Kullab – T. Imad Wahba

Target group: Unrwa English Teachers at East Khanyounis area

Supervised by : The Educational Specialist Mr. Mohammad Al Astal

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As the three of us (me , Amani and Imad) were all finalists in the Remote Theatre Play writing Competition 2018 we decided to help  the English teachers in our area by giving them some tips about this art.

We started the meeting by an introduction about creativity and then talked about the following points :

1- What is a Remote Theatre Play :

As a new art invented by Mr. Nick Bilbrough , we didn’t find any resources on google. Therefore, I emailed Mr. Nick for some help. He provided us by some files and links of the Remote Theatre competition 2019 guideline .

– A New art .

*Invented by Mr. Nick Bilbrough , Britain.

*Producing a short filmed English play about any topic related to Palestinian children life

*The play can be performed by Zoom to other countries or people outside Palestine.

* The main language of the play should be English (It’s allowed to use some Arabic)

2- The Rules of the Remote Theater Play Competition:

*The play must be performed as a piece of Remote Theatre.

*The deadline to send the video of the play and the script is the 31st of December,2019

* It should be performed by at most five students.( any student can play more than one role.)

* It can be filmed on any digital device

*The recording device must not be moved at all.

*The camera angle must not change and no zooming or effects are allowed.

* It must be filmed in one take with no stops or pauses using the camera controls.

*If music, narration or any other sound effects are used they should be played during the performance and not added later.

*No editing  may take place.

*Subtitles need to included

*You need to include a short piece of writing about how you made the play

3-The most important elements of the remote theatre script:

Amani talked about the following elements in details:

The main language of the play is English. .

The starting point of the play must come from the children .

Use simple language and don’t complicate it .

Focus on the story itself . In other words ,every line and every scene should serve the story .

Try to use clear expressions .

Stage direction should be simple and  clear .

Don’t write too much.

4-How to write a good script :

I talked about some rules to help teachers and their students come up with a good script :

1- Get started : I suggested that they can visit the library, read some English stories and watch other plays on YouTube.

2– Do make sure that it’s clear : Everyone who watched the play will understand the main plot, message and morals behind this script . I provided them with an example of one of my plays which didn’t win last year . It’s called Jamila’s Dress. (You can watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7joBQhKtDM&t=25s

Here’s a specific comment about this play from one of the judges.

“This was an effective and lively performance but sometimes the pauses made the acting a little disconnected. A very thought-provoking concept and story. It wasn’t totally totally clear to me but the ambiguity made me think a lot. The Palestinian flag as a precious dress was an interesting symbol. A very effective set and some nice ideas. I think more practice was needed with the choreography e.g. some of the actor’s heads were out of the camera and the time reference signs were sometimes lop-sided. Having said that they clearly worked well as a team within the constraints of remote theatre.”

 3- Don’t write too much .(Let the acting do the talking):

Example : Think how can you change this script to describe the feelings of the characters more effectively and in a concise way:

A : The things that happen made me extremely sad . Words can’t describe my sadness but look ,let me try to use words to describe it anyway .

B : Yes, I can tell how sad you from the way you told me how sad you are. And I empathize with  your sadness in a way that makes me feel emotional also.

4- Do focus on the story :

Remove every single line that doesn’t contribute to the actions /meaning  of the story

Example : Which line should we cut?

On their way to the market , the man told his son a story about his childhood .

The man : Did you like the story

The boy : Yes , dad .It was fantastic . You were very strong dad . When I grow up , I will be like you . I will be strong  . I will do as you did in the story . I will not be weak.

After that Amani talked about how to perform a script effectively . She discussed the following points . She applied all of them to a play as an example

– There is a big difference between reading a script  as a written document and performing a script as a sequence of actions .

-You should encourage the children to perform in clear connected English .

-So that a play is easy to comprehend for people in other countries .

Focus on :

*Sense groups : groups of word said together with no pause to show one meaning.         

*Pausing : tell students when they have to stop or pause.

*Stress / unstress : Teach students how to stress some words or syllables to convey the intended meaning of the sentence. (She suggested to record the teachers voice and to let students listen and imitate )

*Speaking more slowly : In order not to lose the feelings of words , students should speak slowly and clearly.

Then I talked about how to make the best video of your play . I told them about some tips we learned from Mr. Nick during our summer training :

How to interact with the camera:
Think about :
Who are they talking to ?*

Each other: ( look at each other and to the camera)
the audience :(Make eye contact with the camera lens ) (look at the camera lens not to your face.).

Also , I asked them to think about other ways to use the camera e.g as a mirror , a stage with audience watching and clapping , a magical thing they are describing , etc.

We showed them how they should think of different ways to enter the scene from different place e.g from the sides or above or under the camera or to be far and come closer to the camera…..etc

Then we showed them one of the most beautiful remote theatre plays “The Screen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS5kquOQ29s

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After that Mr. Imad Wahba tried some practical dramatic activities with the teachers and asked them to apply with students during making their plays :

1- Try different kinds of clapping your hand .

2- Say the same words differently.

3- Shout aloud.

4- Try to connect some words which seem to be unrelated into one meaningful line.

At the end , we suggested three topics to the teachers and asked them to choose one topic to write two lines of a play script then to read the lines dramatically.

Act your script : Now this is your turn to write and perform at least one scene . Read the following lines and choose one idea to write about.

1-You are from another planet and you visit the earth for the first time with your friends.

2-At  night  while it was raining someone came to your house asking for help

3-A little girl is looking at your food.

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Finally , we asked them if they want to participate in the Remote Theatre Competiton of this year ,they should  answer all the following questions by “Yes”:

Performance

Is it easy to understand what the speakers are saying?
Does is seem like they are using language which they themselves understand and are comfortable with?
Are they connecting well to the audience (you) with their voices as well as connecting to each other?
Is the acting believable?
Do they act physically as well as with their voices?
Do they enter and exit the stage in an effective way?

Content

Does the play tell a good story?
Does something about it surprise you/make you smile/move you?
Is it original?
Does it have a satisfying ending?
Does the play help us to understand the experience of being human?

Overall Production

Have they thought carefully about the stage, background and props? Do they use these things effectively?
Is there something original about the way the play is performed?
Is the play well filmed within the constraints of remote theatre?
Do you feel that they have worked well together as a team?

Note : The previous questions were taken from the feedback email sent by the Hands Up Project to all the plays of the last year’ competition.

Thanks to the Hands Up Project for such a wonderful art . We wish all the best of luck to everyone who will participate in the Remote Theatre Competition.

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