Creole scripts to be used for first time in dramatisation of folktales | 30 August 2019
For the very first time in Seychelles, Creole scripts are to start being used for the drama syllabus followed by students at the National Conservatoire of Performing Arts.
The Seychelles Qualifications Authority (SQA) is currently validating the National Conservatoire of Performing Arts’ (NCPArts) programme, while the students and teachers who form part of the drama syllabus are going into the communities as part of an outreach programme.
This was said by the director of Performing Arts, Pierre Joseph, during the following interview with the Seychelles NATION.
Seychelles NATION: Can you share with us details about this new and upcoming programme?
Pierre Joseph: In two parts, we wish to firstly have a component where students:
- Read a local story: We would select and buy a few copies of the most read ones and spend the first part of the year reading, understanding and perhaps having the writer present a chapter.
The choice of material will be made public based on written and published stories, authorisation for uses, appropriate content for age groups, etc.
- Students will ‘hot seat’ the characters and interpret the story as they wish, thus comes adaptation. Changes will be made, students will take their roles and work out their parts, costumes and lines.
- A basic writing component will be introduced for memorising the changes made, so some aspect of script writing will be taught.
- Closer to the end of term two, students would be ready with a short adaptation of a few chapters from the chosen book/story.
Seychelles NATION: What inspired the decision to start using Creole scripts?
Pierre Joseph: There are stories out there that have shaped our lives, that have made us smile and most importantly, that have a special place in our heart.
Throughout our life we have come across fairytales, legends and imaginary characters. Some have shaped our behaviours, others have terrorised us and kept us awake!
The National Curriculum has some components of such stories; I know for instance that the English curriculum has fairytales told in key stages 1 & 2.
In addition to that, Seychelles schools, especially lower primary and pre-schools are very much engaged in the folktales of ‘Per Torti & Soungoula’ stories.
However, up until now, no collection of stories, special dramatised scripts or adaptation of such stories have been made for our drama classes.
We would like to start our additional classes (modular, either in Applied Theatre, clubs or outreach) next year with the use of Creole stories written by Seychellois writers.
Seychelles NATION: What is the importance of using Creole scripts for the drama syllabus? What are some of the benefits?
Pierre Joseph: The main purpose is to expose students to popular local stories. The direct benefits are many: transmission of traditional knowledge, understanding of Creole terms and jargons, giving value to Creole, not only as a spoken language but also as a creative one.
We can do this by making available a list of all the published works of Seychellois. We have so many good writers here whose work should be transferred into scripts for plays, into literary material for debate and much more.
Although we are fairly new with the writing of such content, we are not new to the staging of local plays. We can start by using the content available and gradually build upon those we wish to transcribe with the help of others.
Seychelles NATION: Why have Creole scripts not been used for drama classes before?
Pierre Joseph: In the past, many plays were written and staged for a mass audience. This was the start and it was a popular activity, very much like films are today!
However, plays did not find their way in many schools; if they did, I fail to remember what they were. In my opinion, this happened due to the non-existence of theatre in education as a core component of the arts syllabus.
I might be wrong there as I am not working in this sector anymore. Students would only touch some literary content in language classes or in clubs, and even then, the focus was on English and French classics.
The reasons for that are justified and varied, but I can quickly point out that it is costly to begin.
Firstly, you need to get the books, seek rights from authors and publishers for the use and then find script writers and playwrights who would adapt the chosen stories into content suitable for the age group. It is much easier to use material already prepared by examination bodies.
Seychelles NATION: How is the process for implementing this new concept going thus far? Are there any challenges being or expected to be faced?
Pierre Joseph: We have completed the first stage of our guidelines for the syllabus ‘Acting & Performing’ and we are quite confident that students will understand the basic use of stage, voice, improvisations and body language for representation of characters.
The last term of 2019 is to be spent seeking material for the project, going on the search for stories written, published and told.
We are now finding out that very few people are ready to spend time transcribing stories into Creole scripts. We are learning and doing as we go. Therefore, the interesting learning curve for us will be laughing at our mistakes, making corrections and maybe after five or more years, getting one good script that we can play every year to perfection.
Seychelles has very strong stories that are embedded in our growth as a Nation; Lavalas of 1862, Seychelles during World Wars, the settlements in Diego, the first love stories of freed slaves, Queen Elizabeth’s landing in 1972 and many more; very few have been written, let alone staged.
Our call to the public is to offer their traditional knowledge to young people whenever they can. They are our students! We also call upon drama teachers and curriculum developers to seek potential content that engages students, and to support their urge for creative expansion. Their adaptation of stories will be staged and will delight us all.
For more information, contact the National Conservatoire of Performing Arts:
- Telephone: 4 321 333
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org