Digital Drama Workshops
an international project on producing skills and resources for online theatre

Erasmus+ Key Action 2 - Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices.
March 2021 - February 2023

Last updated: 23/05/2022

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INTRODUCTION

Since the global COVID-19 pandemic, many youth theatres have closed due to social restrictions. Youth theatre is considered a highly interactive activity, needing an in-person presence and live involvement. It involves physical, emotional and embodied practice to be most effective. And thus it, and other theatre activities, were among the first sectors to close across the world. Since stopping their practice, young theatre makers have not had the chance to develop their skills collaboratively, and cultural youth workers in this sector have been out of work for months as employment is precarious and depends on having access to a group to happen.
 
The Digital Drama Workshop project aims to offer theatre makers skills and materials to conduct their work online during times when they cannot meet (and so avoid closure, loss of earnings, and loss of creative interaction for young people).

This programme is funded by Erasmus+ as a multi-year KA2 project under cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices.

PROJECT AIMS

Digital Drama Workshops will create and distribute 30 two-hour drama sessions (workshops) that can be carried out online. A further 10 two-hour sessions will be created for in-person socially distanced work. The project will create and upload 10 videos about collaborating online, and contextualising youth theatre in the youth work realm. 

Each workshop plan will be for a two-hour workshop. The 30 workshops can be arranged in 5 units to comprise a 6-workshop programme for established groups of young people in a youth theatre. They can also be arranged to provide a 30-week programme, building upon each other and developing a range of skills over time.

Together they will develop practices that will be tested by our participating theatre partners (see below) before being freely shared online, and available to download in a free Resource Book called Digital Drama Workshops.

The creation of the project's resources is expected to directly involve up to 70 participants from 4 different partner theaters. 

PROJECT VALUE

Even if COVID disappears, the resources produced by the Digital Drama Workshop as aforementioned, will still be useful for youth theatres to involve:

• rurally isolated young people;
• those who cannot afford to travel to our centres;
• people with social anxieties reluctant to be in groups;
• those who are incapacitated or who can't leave home/hospital/etc;
• and people from communities who stigmatise participation in theatre-making.

CORE PROJECT PRINCIPLES

The Digital Drama Workshop project is underpinned by four key principles:

 

1) Collaboration and creativity: 

 

All involved in this project believe that all people have the right to be creative and to practice their creativity together. The project highlights the role collaboration serves in human growth and development. The online activities therefore will enhance this feature and not become a space in which individuals merely do 'individual' things passively while being together. The workshop plans and resource material focuses on participants being engaged collaboratively, working actively to create meaning together using an online platform to do so.

 

2) Being social – moving towards community: 

 

All involved in this project acknowledge that social isolation is a major problem across Europe, and that many young people cannot take part in group creative activity due to distance, travel restrictions, mobility issues, health, detention, and a host of other reasons. Therefore, the workshop plans encourage participants to work in groups or in pairs, and to focus their attention onto the social more so than onto the personal. In addition, the project appeals to young people from anywhere with wifi to take part in a group activity without having to travel.

 

3) Open access: 

 

The Digital Drama Workshop's resources are free. Available to all. Culture, and access to it, is a human right. The materials in this project make access to theatre-making easier. And therefore they are free and

readily available.

 

4) Participation and not consumption: 

 

The project spotlights 'learning by doing' or embodied learning in its materials. The risk with online drama is that it becomes passive (participants watch videos, listen to speeches, and read material). This project focuses on active participation, moving, writing, sharing, engaging, and collaborating in so far as it possible to do in a digital arena. The goal is to help young people create meaning rather than consume opinion.

PROJECT UPDATES

November 2021: In November 2021, members of the four participating organisations; Crooked House, BeyondBühne, Pirineus Creatius and Rogaland Teatre, met in Baden, Austria as part of Digital Drama Workshops. For five days, the teams met to recap on what has already been done, as well as discuss and finalise the project for the future. 

Each company brought both writers and filmmakers to assist with each respective part of the project. The writing team worked on finalising the workshops, their content, as well as the content of the book. The filmmaking team worked to produce a short promotional trailer for the project, which will be shared shortly. This event also served as the first opportunities for the teams to meet each other in person. 

The next in person meeting will occur with Pirineus Creatius in February 2022. 

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February 2022: In February the following year, one representatives from each partner came together to La Seu D'Urgell in Catalonia, Northern Spain for an Erasmus+ funded Transnational Project Meeting, hosted by Pirineus Creatius. 

Over a two day period, the meeting looked at the current progress of the project now that it had almost marked a year since the project commenced. This included a reviewing of videos and written material so far created, covering and finding soultions to any problems so far encountered, and looking at the future of the project.

Whilst there, participants got to experience Catalonian culture, the Pyrenees Mountains and took part in one of the hosts regular workshops. 

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May 2022: Three months later, the third Transnational Project Meeting occurred. This time hosted by Rogaland Teatre in Stavanger, Norway - the meeting held similar objectives to the previous one in Spain. Over two days, all participating organisations met together to evaluate the progress of the project and to discuss and critique proposed and completed work. 

At this relatively advanced stage of the project, this included more detailed feedback on the videos as well and concreting the expectations for future videos, as well as overviewing and confirming the material of the remaining workshops and of the book. 

During the meeting, the organisations also got to experience Norwegian culture, the North Sea and theatre plays in Stavanger. 

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PARTICIPATING THEATRE PARTNERS

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Crooked House Theatre Company (Ireland)
www.crookedhouse.ie

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BeyondBühne (Austria)
https://beyondbuehne.at/

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Associacio Juvenil Pirineus Creatius (Spain)
https://pirineuscreatius.org/

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