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Most Parsnips sessions are two hours long. The first hour is usually taken up with plenty of games and warm up exercises. This is designed to be as much fun as possible but each game or exercise also has a theatrical skill attached to it. That may be a general skill such as team work, confidence building or social skills, or more specific disciplines such as improvisation, focus, projection and acting skills.
In the second hour of the session students are asked to form small groups and create a play/skit/theatrical performance for the rest of the group using the skill(s) they have just learnt. The group then give feedback on the piece (all constructive no one’s allowed to just criticize!) and we discuss the themes raised, what we enjoyed and what could be improved for next time.
The aim of the sessions is to learn through fun and students are encouraged to explore and experiment with their plays as we believe that there are no wrong answers, only different versions of what’s right!
For a few months of each year we are working on a show. Sometimes these shows are a pre-written script (we’ve done Moliere and Shakespeare in the past), or they are a new version of an old Parsnips show.
However more often than not they are a completely original play work shopped by the cast and scripted by the director Claire (me!).
In this instance, a few months before the show dates, the group will sit down and chat through any ideas they have for a show. This may be character ideas, issues they want to explore, things they’ve seen that have inspired them or simply a song or piece of music. We write EVERYTHING down and spend the next few weeks trying out everyone’s ideas.
Over time one idea or theme tends to become a favourite, so we concentrate on it and look into how it could become a piece. We spend time working on characters and storylines more and more specifically until we’re all happy and then I go away and script the play and cast the members of the group into parts.
In Parsnips nobody has a small part unless they specifically request it. The beauty of writing the scripts ourselves is that everyone has a good sized part and a character they can really get their teeth into. We try wherever possible to work as an ensemble, an equal group. Of course sometimes some parts are a bit bigger than others because the storyline requires it, but no one ends up with just one line – ever!!
Not at all! Providing you with experience and skill is our job. If you were already an award winning performer what would we have to teach you? That being said, if you do have experience that’s great too! Parsnips benefits from everyone’s skills and experiences.
Being shy doesn’t mean you can’t act! Some of the best actors we have were some of quietest people in the room when they started out. In fact, I was always shy as a child and found it was drama that helped me build up my confidence.
Parsnips welcomes everyone and you will NEVER be forced to do anything you don’t want to do. We will always encourage you to participate, but if you feel you don’t want to perform on your first week or find a game or exercise a little bit difficult at first we will always support your decision to observe for a while.
Parsnips sessions cost £7 per session (£3.50 an hour) and are paid termly in advance (an invoice is handed out in the sessions). However if invoices are paid by a certain date indicated on the invoice itself, then a 50p discount per session is given. Therefore it can end up costing just £6.50 per session (and as I have had some students with me for nearly ten years this is worth doing!!)