First Irish applied theatre week in the can. Two more to go.

Today the NYU students presented their Educational Resource Packet projects (ERPs). We worked with two plays by Enda Walsh: Chatroom and New Electric Ballroom.

In the debrief following the projects, the teaching staff agreed that these were very strong presentations, and that they included some of the most theatrical moments via dramatic activities that we’ve seen in our many years of teaching this course. Beyond the creativity on display, we also noticed an exceptional level of collaboration and cohesiveness amongst the group members in each presentation. We’ve come to believe that this is a very strong group of students, but I also think that Joanna Parkes did an excellent job of unrolling the ERP model and the assignment. The clarity around expectations helped the students to achieve very strong and well-structured plans for their pre- and post-performance workshop schemes.

Additionally, Joanna and Jenny Macdonald feel that the accountability to group work has increased because of the introduction this year of the Evidence of Collaboration Assessment Sheet. Each member of a working group uses this assessment sheet to evaluate the work of every other member in the group. Students know what the expectations are in advance, and it seems to help manage the creation process. These sheets will be collected on Monday morning, and each person will receive a mark that is an average of the other group members’ assessment of her/his work. This final score on the ERP project contributes to the Preparation, Participation, Collaboration mark in the course, which is worth 20% of the overall grade. I’ve been using variations on these sheets for a number of semesters now, and I think they have consistently helped me to maintain some order in the often chaotic and frustrating world of group project work.

Following the presentations, Joanna staged a bit of a celebratory hooley with the students, as a way to honor the work that they’ve completed at the conclusion of this very intense first week. The students then went off to enjoy their free Saturday evening and Sunday, and the teaching staff traveled off to Bray for a walk along the Irish Sea and some fish and chips.

We’ve had an excellent first week on the course. Thought-provoking, cage-rattling (in a good way), and inspiring on many levels. I look forward to the coming week when we’ll travel to Dalkey Castle and Belfast for more inputs, and the students will begin their own devising work with Jenny Macdonald and Declan Gorman. One of these days I’m actually going to find a way to pull on the Irish literary tradition and write one of my plays. They’re just not coming right now. But lots of other ideas are, hence these blog posts. Maybe I should just be happy to be writing.

See below some images from the student work today and the trip out to Bray.