Belgrade Youth develop their Zoom-based performance using improvisation and breakout sessions

With their final performance drawing near, Senior Youth theatre member Cameron continues to reflect on how his group’s Zoom-based Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen project has developed using techniques such as improvisation and breakout sessions. 

In our last session we focused on improvisation. Working in pairs, we acted out scenes imagining we were meeting in a shopping centre. One person started talking to the other and when the conversation ended the second person talked to someone new, continuing until everyone had taken part.

The idea behind this was to create something which represented how people’s behaviour has changed over the course of the lockdown. Early conversations were often full of anger, with people arguing over opposing political views. Over time, however, the conversations began to gravitate more towards kindness and community.

We also thought about ways of using the dialogue to challenge assumptions. For example, if you saw someone bulk-buying goods at the supermarket, you might assume they were panic buying, but they could instead be buying extra for someone else who is not able to go to the shops.

The strength of our improvised work has really demonstrated how far we have come as a group over the last few weeks. It’s becoming easier for us to anticipate other people’s responses because we’re all on the same page. It’s been an amazing experience for me and gives me confidence about the final performance.

One of the things we have found really useful throughout this process has been using breakout rooms. This involves splitting the group in half, with each smaller group working on a task together. Break-out sessions usually last around 5-10 minutes, and since it’s a small group, there are usually only about three people in each breakour room, which means that everyone gets a chance to pitch in and develop their ideas.

The breakout rooms are where we have done most of our practical work. The group is divided at random, so each week we have the chance to rehearse with a different group of people, encouraging us to step outside our comfort zones and allowing us to get to know everyone. This really helps to build our confidence in working with new people. At the end of our breakout sessions, we then share our work with the other group.

The last session was such a success that I’m feeling really excited for the final performance. We have all grown so much during this project and worked really hard to be ready. We’ve all contributed in different ways, and it’s our differences that make us such a unique and amazing team.