The Who is Gordon Craig? project seeks to ensure that students of theatre and drama are introduced to Craig’s contribution to our cultural heritage and helped to understand both the impact of his work and the relevance of his theories today. We want to make sure that his ideas continue to be propagated within the next generation of theatre-makers.
A freely available educational resource pack will be prepared for use at Key Stage 5 (16-18 years) with practical, easy to implement ideas and resources to encourage and help the teaching community introduce Craig’s concepts.
Key Stage 5 theatre and drama courses are often the first specialist stages of a route into a career in theatre and the wider arts. Despite an interest in his contribution to theatre heritage 50% of teachers surveyed decide against teaching Craig’s theories due to a lack of readily available, easily digested and interpreted resources.
Prepared by experienced practitioners of KS5 theatre/drama working in consultation with specialists in Craig, the downloadable pack will comprise of an outline conceptual approach with students at this level, practical session plans, key texts, audio/video, images and testimonial from contemporary theatre-makers.
This is seen as timely by teachers – new specifications in drama / theatre courses are being introduced in the academic year 2016/17 and teachers are being asked to broaden their subject knowledge in light of the subject reforms.
The pack will be made available in February 2017 and will be available at www.edwardgordoncraig.co.uk
We hope the pack will serve as a resource to teachers of the following courses:
- AQA Drama and Performing Arts AS/A2
- AQA Drama and Theatre Studies AS/A2
- Edexcel A level Drama and Theatre Studies AS/A2
- Edexcel A level Performing Arts AS/A2
- OCR Performance Studies AS/A2
- OCR Performing Arts AS/A2
- WJEC Drama and Theatre Studies AS/A2
- EDUQAS Drama and Theatre AS/A2
- SQA Drama Higher/Advanced Higher
- BTEC Level 3 Performing Arts
- BTEC Level 3 Production Arts
- IB Theatre
- iGCSE Drama
Craig, through his writings and formation of a school in pre-WW1 Italy repeatedly demonstrates his commitment to education of the next generation of theatre makers, aiming to embody them with the same restless, innovative spirit. He said: “I want to leave behind me the seeds of the art – for it does not yet exist. The day there are no more experiments to test, no more paths to adventure on; …on that day we and the other artists on earth can go to sleep.”
Key stage 5 (16-18 years) theatre, drama and dance courses are often the first specialist stages of a route into a career in theatre and the wider arts. Within the various syllabuses, teachers are mainly free to explore their choice of practitioners with their students. However, having interviewed a set of 44 teachers at this level, despite an interest in his contribution to theatre heritage 50% decide against teaching Craig’s theories, often due to a lack of readily available, easily digested and interpreted resources. The majority of respondents, if they did reference Craig, placed little or very little emphasis on his theories compared to other practitioners and companies – we feel there is a clear need for development here.
Liam Doona, lecturer on the history of scenographic practice at Dublin’s IADT wrote, in support of this project: “Craig presents a vital and rigorous way of thinking about theatre making and understanding theatre in performance. He occupies a creative, critical and conceptual space which is concerned with the mutuality of the visual, the textual and the performative, a pioneer of a highly blended approach to theatre making which we now take for granted but which enables a variety of creative domains to interact in a shared understanding of practice. He asks us to use our eyes and ears intelligently and to consciously engage with the process of receiving and making meaning. These are absolutely the values of KS5.”
Doona continues that “at all levels of design and drama education and practice he is believed to be important but the exact reasons can be difficult to express or frame effectively”. Doona stresses the “need to create content which effectively unveils EGC’s thinking and work. It is important to understand that EGC presents a vital and rigorous way of thinking about theatre-making and understanding theatre in performance. He was a pioneer of a highly blended approach to theatre making which we now take for granted but which enabled a variety of creative domains to interact.”
New specifications in KS5 drama/theatre courses are being introduced in the academic year 2016/17 and teachers are being asked to broaden their subject knowledge in light of the subject reforms. Emma Love of Gatton Park School told us: “We’re changing boards & obviously the course content will change as well. With a much more academic / research based feel and a stronger focus on the overall process including directing and design, it would be great to be able to have a really strong unit on one of the most influential designers of modern times.”
Charlotte Leap, teacher at a British International school acknowledged that “he is a lesser taught practitioner, and one that I would like to increase my expertise on. With the changes to the A/AS level specifications in 2016/17, I will be reworking my teaching at A level and I would consider teaching Craig as part of the new course to explore Craig’s theories and Craig’s influence on contemporary theatre.”
Tim Armitage of Sir John Lawes School in Harpenden told us: “Craig is a local theatre hero – we are near Stevenage and the theatre is named after him! Craig is excellent for set design candidates and vital part of theatre history!”
Peter Brook once said: “…he was the origin of it all. The true influence, which we all carry today whether we know it or not, comes from Craig.”
The generations of theatre-makers who Craig so vividly inspired then are now too passing out of prominence and there is a great risk of Craig’s ideas being lost within pages of theatre history rather than being alive on our stages of tomorrow.
Franc Chamberlain, writing in support of this project says: “The work of Edward Gordon Craig is an important part of our theatre heritage. There are very, very few, British people who have had a world-wide influence on the theatre and Craig is one of them.”
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