Between the 1st and the 21st of June twenty young people from China have been working on a 7 part theatre workshop in central Beijing.
Based on Edward Bond’s play The Children, the workshop led by Drama Rainbow took young people from 13 to 17 years old on a journey of exploring themselves and what it is to be growing up.
The play, originally written for young performers in the UK, was adapted into an experiential workshop where participants first explored as themselves before going into being Joe’s friends who were involved deeply in Joe’s dilemma – his mother asks him to burn down a house.
The workshop started from young participants investigating an allotment space cut through by an obsolete railway. The group were then asked to create an object in the space through which they identified the world they are living in. The depicted moment of placing the objects revealed these concepts through bringing an action. The actor teacher in role as Joe, a 17 year old boy then came to talk to a doll about his life and family. The group were focused on exploring the world of Joe by giving a voice to the doll; exploring the first time Joe discovered the doll; what his classmates’ attitude toward Joe, etc. They were then focused on creating a ‘gang’ of Joe’s friends by designing a secret pact, tattoos, images and experienced an intruder to the gang before Joe shared what his mother asked him to do.
The experience reflected an extremely divided view towards the responsibility of the gang when they realised that they were seen by the intruder and they were involved by knowing what Joe intended to do. The workshops then
shifted to a performative mode where participants were given lines as the story unfolded. The intense rehearsal of some segments of the play offered a different perspective towards the division of young; the pain of growing up and accepting responsibility toward oneself and the other.
The workshop is part of the Facing the Gap cultural initiative which has been undertaken in four countries since December 2015.