Drama skills help with life skills

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By ES­THER LAUAKI

As a child, Ni­cholas Frost used to sit in the au­di­ence at Porirua Lit­tle The­atre and watch his par­ents Jack and Jenny on stage.

Now he is the­atre di­rec­tor, mu­si­cian, per­for­mance skills spe­cial­ist and author of a new teach­ing re­source, To­tal Drama: A source­book of orig­i­nal ex­er­cises and scripts for teach­ers and stu­dents.

The English-born writer grew up in Ti­tahi Bay but is now based in Syd­ney and is of­ten back and forth be­tween homes.

‘‘I love New Zealand, I come back to visit ev­ery few months. I’ve been brought up in the the­atre, my par­ents were al­ways very ac­tive with Porirua Lit­tle The­atre and I used to sit there and watch them as a child. I didn’t act very much but I was an en­thu­si­as­tic au­di­ence for them.’’

The 520-page man­ual was re­leased in De­cem­ber and is set to be dis­trib­uted to most high schools and the­atre com­pa­nies across New Zealand and Aus­tralia.

To­tal Drama fea­tures meth­ods that sup­port play-build­ing, script-writ­ing and the­matic study, and pro­motes the role of drama in de­vel­op­ing life skills like emo­tional in­tel­li­gence, con­flict res­o­lu­tion, ne­go­ti­a­tion, pre­sen­ta­tion and re­la­tion­ship build­ing.

He says the re­sponse from teach­ers has been ‘‘very pos­i­tive’’ so far.

‘‘It feels very good that the book’s out now. I’ve had years of ex­pe­ri­ence di­rect­ing stuff and I have seen a lot of prob­lems with the teach­ing of drama to young peo­ple. I felt there’s a strong need for a re­source like this. There’s a lot of teach­ers out there with a need for a strong method . . . [Drama] needs to be laid out as a sci­ence.’’

Frost ran a chil­dren’s the­atre com­pany for many years and co-founded the Christchurch Free The­atre, which has been run­ning since the early 1980s.

He says a lot of the tech­niques he has used with cor­po­rate groups have be­come lessons in To­tal Drama. He be­lieves the skills young peo­ple learn in drama are for life.

‘‘A lot of kids have been saved by things like drama and dance and the arts. The skills they learn can be used in all ar­eas of their lives.’’

For more in­for­ma­tion visit wheel­ers.co.nz.

To­tal re­call: Ni­cholas Frost has re­leased a source­book called To­tal Drama to help teach drama in high schools across New Zealand and Aus­tralia. The book draws on some of his orig­i­nal scripts.

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