The (un)importance of performance week

This week has seen 10 after school clubs perform their work to friends and family, and reflecting back, Sarah discusses the role this week plays within the children’s drama club experience.

Given that Unique Voice run so many drama clubs, it is perhaps to be expected that the children are given a chance to showcase their work to their friends and family. After all, that’s what drama is all about right?

I’d argue that this isn’t the case. Whilst all the children always enjoy performance week, sometimes the real strengths of drama club are apparent on a week to week basis. As a drama club leader, it’s clear to see the children’s confidence grow from week to week, to see them let go of their inhibitions and throw themselves into the sessions with more gusto and enthusiasm. But some comments from this week have really hit home the impact these clubs can have on children. More than once this term, I have been approached by a parent who has explained how their child’s class teacher has noted an increase in their confidence, and that they have even seen the change at home.

Often it’s hard to put your finger on exactly how this change is initiated, whilst Unique Voice leaders always strive to be as encouraging and positive as possible, I think part of the impact comes from the activities involved and the way in which we work with the children. Every club has a strong sense of community; it becomes a family- full of support and enjoyment. But perhaps what I think plays a huge part is that the children are rarely sat down, they are up on their feet, sharing their ideas, working in groups exploring the sessions task. They are encouraged to share their ideas, their opinions and to be proud of the fruits of their imaginations.

Because so much of drama club is child lead, the children often feel a real ownership over the work they produce, and it’s not hard to see the looks of pride on their faces when they receive positive feedback from other members of their club. I also believe that it is the level of energy the children put into their work that tricks them into forgetting that they are acting at all. Sometimes when I look around a session, all I can see are children playing, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Often as children share their play, they find the confidence to begin to ‘act’.

It is for this reason that I don’t believe performance weeks need to be totally polished, or full of technically brilliant acting. What is most important is that the children are happy to share their work and are proud to let others see what they’ve been up to. Of course there are always some children who are natural born performers, but that doesn’t make those who might have their backs to the audience any less successful.

The part of performance week which always leaves me feeling emotional is the song, which will differ from club to club each term. The songs we choose to end the performance with are always specifically selected, either for their energy, message or link to the scheme the children have been working on. For me, this song and the way in which the children come together to sing it, represents the unity and achievement not only of a club, but of all the individuals within it- of their growth, their success and their enjoyment.

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