Tag Archives: drama

New Year, New You…

New Year, New You…

In our Oxford city location, we have now hosted our first four singing and drama classes of 2017, and what a happy, positive and sociable experience it has been.

New year, new you, and all that jazz. At Open Stage Arts we don’t need to reinvent ourselves, but new elements recently added to the mix undoubtedly improve the great concept, of a fun, pressure-free performing arts experience for adults, we have already established.

New location

First, there’s our new location. Rose Hill Community Centre is a great facility. The rooms we have our classes in are bright, clean and fresh, with big windows that help create an atmosphere conducive to creativity and expression. But it is not just the building that makes for a happy new home: the staff within the space complete the picture. As well as taking bookings and dealing with enquiries, getting rooms ready and generally ‘being there’ if we need them, everyone at the centre is friendly, helpful and supportive. Here it feels as though we are a part of a community, not just a group that rents a room.

New teachers

This year we have once again increased our pool of fabulous instructors, to give the ‘students’ the most varied experience we can. The teachers are professional actors, writers, directors and vocal coaches that have so much knowledge and experience to share with us. I want the sessions across the whole term to be interesting, diverse and enlightening. The individual teachers bring that diversity in spades, while at the same time complementing each other’s teaching methods and specialties.

Best of all, new ‘students’

We have also had the pleasure of welcoming many new ‘students’ to the sessions. It is good to know that I am not the only person who thinks that dabbling in singing and drama activities for fun is a good idea. Men and women of all ages have signed up for taster sessions and given us a go. Some come for the social aspect, some just to have fun; some have enjoyed drama at school or even had professional training, others have never done anything like this before; some people want to improve their voice – for speaking as well as singing – others want to boost their confidence; but all are keen to try something new.

On arrival, the majority of participants have not known another soul in the room, but after just a few minutes an outsider wouldn’t guess that to be the case. An instructor who is initially surrounded by a circle of nervous/excited/confident/terrified faces soon has the group knowing everybody’s names, joining in with all manner of activities and acting like they have known each for years. In the last two weeks we have been tied up in knots (literally), told each other ‘I love you’ and ‘Make the tea’, sung in Finnish and Ghanaian, and in three-part harmonies, written haikus and played ‘It’ in slow motion. It really has been the most amount of fun.





The unexpected benefits of performing arts without the performance

The unexpected benefits of performing arts without the performance

The term ‘performing arts’ clearly describes creative activities performed in front of an audience. However, as I have found over the last year, taking part in performing-arts activities without the actual performance has its own rewards.

In January of this year I began meeting local performers and employing them to share their crafts with everyday Oxford folk who are not performers. The professional singers, dancers and actors have challenged themselves by adapting their teaching methods to meet the needs of people who do not necessarily wish to perform in front of an audience, but nevertheless are completely receptive to the processes, and keen to keep learning and experimenting.

My intention was simply to do a bit of acting and singing, but I have since learned that there is much more to be gained from ‘dabbling’ in performing arts. Participants tell me that they continue to come to the classes for many and varied reasons: some take part to boost their confidence and increase self-esteem; some want to push themselves to learn something new, and experience an immense sense of achievement when they realize their potential is greater than they once thought; a few of the ‘students’ speak English as a second language, and can practise and improve their language skills with pressure-free drama exercises; while others are keen to tap in to an inner creativity.

On top of the above, the sessions are great for relieving stress and making new friends.

When I decided to start the classes, none of these fabulous benefits had been on my radar, so the sessions have taught me as much as they have taught the ‘students’.

You may already enjoy performing with community choirs or drama groups, in which case the classes will complement those pastimes, but there is one final, and most important aspect that benefits everyone, especially those who do not have an acting background, nor a desire to perform in the future: the sessions offer the unique experience of taking part for the sole reason of taking part. With no extra agenda, the time spent in the studio is purely for the enjoyment of the participant, and for those two hours a week, the outside world may as well not exist.

So if you think that taking a performing-arts class simply sounds like a fun thing to do, you’d be absolutely right.