People from whose life we can learn
Drama with the 16 Guidelines
Drama with the 16 Guidelines

By Marguy Krier and Irma Kalabic
 
Whilst gathering ideas for our next theatre project in class, two girls came up with an interesting idea. They wanted to learn from the lives of people who had done something special during their lifetime. We, a teacher and an educator, were delighted by this idea.
 
Researching facts about the role models
Inspired by the qualities of the 16 Guidelines we made 16 big cards and on each one of them there was a very short description and a photograph of a person who had that particular quality. The first task was for the children to choose which role models’ lives they wanted to investigate. They then split into groups of 2-3 children who would work together, and during lessons they started to gather interesting material about that particular role model. They were given some quotations to help them on their way.
 
From ideas into theatre scripts
The second task was to present to everybody, one after the other, the chosen person’s life and to search for a typical situation or sequence in that life which we could act out together. We wanted to make the quotations come to life. The children who had done the research on a particular person were the directors of the play.
 
In turn, all the sequences of the chosen lives were acted out. This proved to be quite emotional at times, as it highlighted some problems, but above all it inspired lots of discussions. Respect, service, loving kindness, all these ‘words’ were not so easy to portray when acting them out in a play. There was much frustration whilst difficulties and shortcomings had to be resolved. Decisions had to be taken and compromises made. But when consensus was reached within the group, the children were proud and happy about their achievements.

After each play, we reflected on what the children had and had not liked, so as to expose both the difficulties and the solutions they had found.

What could have happened if Mandela had met Kollwitz?
As we were running out of time to act out all the lives, we let the children decide what to do next. They came up with the interesting idea of acting two lives together. What would have happened if, for example, Nelson Mandela and Käthe Kollwitz had met? We talked about the ideas of those people. What would they have done? Would they have helped each other? How? Interesting scenarios were built up.
 
We know that using this approach we interfered somewhat with the life of those people. However, this permitted the children to see what can be achieved when working together and how people can help each other. They realized that we are not alone, but part of a group. The children were a group. And, if they wanted to, they could attain goals in their life, both alone and together.
 
This was an interesting project for us. The children liked it too and together we learned life-long lessons.