Elsa Perez has been performing in French- and English-language theatre plays for many years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from McGill University and a Master’s Degree in Theatrical Interpretation from the Chicago College of Performing Arts in United States, where she lived and worked as an actress for four years. She went on to study clowning and Japanese theatre in Paris. Upon returning to Montréal she began actively working as an actress and a story-teller, mainly with Théâtre de l’Esquisse, Collectif Arbraconte, Théâtre champêtre du Moulin Fleming, Théâtre de la Source and Théâtre bilingue de Montréal, which she founded. Elsa Perez regularly hosts theatre courses and workshops: she uses a methodology that allows her to convey her knowledge and passion to young students, whatever their age or level of experience.
Why present theatre plays in schools? Because theatrical expression allows students to develop their imagination and their self-esteem, to exercise their memory and to deepen their appreciation of literature. The aim of the proposed workshop is to introduce students to theatrical expression in a simple way in an atmosphere that is both creative and respectful. All sessions begin with a physical and vocal warm-up in which each student actively participates. Activities are adapted to the school level of the participating groups.
Examples of activities
Workshop 1 – Improvisation
Improvising simply means reacting to our environment in a structured manner. By improvising without a text or costume, we discover the building blocks of theatre: imagination, emotion, use of one’s body and voice, listening to one’s partner, and contact with the public. The purpose of this first workshop is to introduce students to the magic of theatrical encounters. Through a series of improvisations, young actors learn how to listen to themselves and to take risks. Examples of exercises:
Workshop 2 – Creation of a character
We all have the possibility to create living characters and to invent a story for them. This workshop introduces young people to the physical creation of characters through exercises that draw inspiration from the techniques of Rudolf Laban and Michael Chekhov. Participants will first be asked to choose the physical characteristics of their character (where is the centre of the character located?, with what part of his/her body does he/she play his/her role?, what are the characteristics of his/her movements?). Participants will quickly realize that the world of emotion often ensues from the physical world. After this exploration period, students will stage their characters through guided improvisation exercises.
Workshop 3 – From the page to the stage
The leading theatrical texts have all been written to be performed and not to be read. Intended for young people at the secondary level, this workshop aims to allow them to increase their appreciation and understanding of theatrical literature, from Sophocles to Moliere to Tremblay. In collaboration with the teacher, the artist prepares short scenes and monologues from a text examined in class by the students. During the workshop, the artist plays out the texts while young participants discover the foundations of the work of an actor: diction, comprehension of the text, defining the objectives and listening. Examples of activities:
Workshop 4 – Creation of a mini-play
This workshop, which may take place during one or more sessions, allows young people to live the magic of the creation of a performance in concentrated form. Prior to the session, students choose a theme from among those proposed by the artist. At the start of the session, the artist gives them a simple scenario, within which they will have to improvise scenes. Participants then divide up into teams, who will work under the artist’s direction with the aim of putting on a presentation before a small audience. Simple props and costume elements can be provided by the artist. Examples of themes:
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