Creative Expression – Theatre in the Making

06 Dec 2016

So what really goes on during Creative Expression?

Our approach to Creative Expression here at Montessori Bali is to explore and experience the complete ‘Theatre in the Making’ process from start to finish. Through this process, the children develop skills, not only in multiple elements of Drama but also, in story devising, script writing, research, design, mask making, and scenery design and painting.

So what does this look like at each developmental stage?

In the Lower Primary Years

Currently our lower primary classes are learning about Indonesian Folktales in preparation for short performances during the new site opening ceremony.

They started by exploring the stories, through whole class spontaneous improvisation – stepping back in time to the land of Bali in a time before motor bikes and hotels and when the Bali tiger roamed! They met the characters, explored the setting and experienced the stories first hand. When they stepped out of role, they could then discuss the story and start thinking about how ‘they’ could tell the story. Through experimentation and play, our story starts to take shape. Using the children’s lead, I then script their performance.

Having developed characters through play, they then draw designs for the costumes, masks or puppets for the performance. For example, one group designed the life size puppet of the Giant ‘Kebo Iwa’. From their designs, they then worked together to make, paint and dress the papier mache puppet.

karinas-lower-primary-preparing-kebo-iwas-body   kebo-iwas-finished-head

(Above left) Karina’s Lower Primary preparing Kebo Iwa’s body

(Above right) Kebo Iwa’s finished head

Students then chose various roles for the performance; puppeteers, voices and sound effects, actors and narrators.

They are now working on blocking their performance, remembering cues to enter and exit, choreographing movement and learning lines.

In the Upper Primary Years

The starting point for our work in the Upper Primary this term was Balinese Topeng (Mask).  Working with masks requires specific skills and rules. To introduce the children to working with mask, I showed them ‘Trestle Masks’ from the UK. These are a set of masks, with one clear emotion on each mask. We went through the rules of the mask, to ensure the actor does not ‘break the illusion’ for the audience.  The children ‘played’ with the mask, experimenting with body language – posture, gesture and movement. They then went on to collaborate with a partner to build a back-story for the character, scripting a dialogue between the narrator and the (non speaking) masked character.

ryoma-using-papier-mache-for-form-the-shape-of-his-mask   tashina-creatibg-her-own-mask

(Above left) Ryoma using papier mache for form the shape of his mask

(Above right) Tashina creating her own mask

Following this work, we researched the traditional use of Topeng here in Bali. The children looked at different examples of masks, the types of characters the masks typically portray, the movements and postures that match each mask and the types of stories that are commonly told using Topeng.

From this we went into a whole group story writing frenzy! The group collaborated to devise an original story that included traditional plot elements; for example, the fight of Good versus Evil and traditional characters such as; the old man (Topeng Tua), the Nobleman and the Demon.

From this story they then developed their own characters and designed masks to match. They will then go on to build and paint their own masks.

upper-primary-in-trestle-mask-3   upper-primary-in-trestle-masks

(Above)Upper Primary in Trestle Masks

They are now about to start turning their story into a script for the two half mask narrators to tell. Once we have the script, the children will go into the blocking and choreographing stage to bring their characters and story to life.

The final performance, that we hope you’ll all be there to see in February, will be the ‘cherry on the top’ of all of the children’s cross curricula learning.


Creative Arts teacher

Categories: Lower Primary, News, Upper Primary