TY PROJECT: Scoil Steriotipiciúil
My latest youth project was with a group of TY students from Scoil Pol in Kilfinane, Co Limerick. I started working with this group in January on a project I created called, “Our Town”. This is one of my favourite new projects to work on with students. It allows for multi-faceted creative challenges for the students including, creative writing, fictional character development, expansion of their imagination and importantly creative empathy.
The students are asked to create one character (often a stereotypical character) and develop them. They are set a series of writing assignments over several weeks that push them to really look at who their character is beyond the stereotype. The character, who lives in a fictional town, is assigned a role that the students decide on as they create them.
Once the characters are formed, I start to introduce conflicts for them. I ask the students to help me with identifying conflicts that they face day-to-day. Often the conflicts include, bullying, loneliness, anxiety, family troubles, shyness, and more generally trying to find their place in the world.
For this project with Scoil Pol, we switched it up and instead setting the piece in a town they wanted the stage for their story to be a school. They called it, Scoil Steriotipiciúil. This made the characters and conflicts specific to teenagers and gave them an opportunity to address and explore issues and conflicts that they encounter in their own lives and the lives of their friends and fellow students. The fictional element gives the students the freedom to explore these issues openly, issues that are important and pertinent in their lives right now.
While we had to do the project on Zoom because we were in the middle of Level 5 Covid restrictions. It presented some challenges but nothing we couldn't overcome.I was delighted by their commitment in the face of a very changed world for them. As always, I am bowled over by their insights and talent. It is so important to keep the lines of communication open with young people and Our Town is a really effective vehicle to do that.
Have a look at their work:
Well done to these up-and-coming writers!
Thanks to Friars' Gate Theatre and The Arts Council for funding such a great project.