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actionarts.co.uk

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Recent Projects

"Mary Carr is the best investment the English department has ever made."  A comment made by Marilyn Harris, Head of English at Parkside Community School, Chesterfield.

In January, Mary went into the school on a regular basis, undertaking two separate projects.

The first was to introduce Year 9 to their set Shakespeare play "Macbeth". Mary gave a teaching performance incorporating the acting of the main characters using some quotations from the significant speeches, interspersed with an improvised paraphrase of the storyline. It took a staggering 58 hours to prepare and lasted 50 mins. Mary is now trying to sell it to other schools as it seems a shame not to use it elsewhere after all that work. There will be some schools next year who are studying this with year 10.

After Mary's performance the pupils took part in workshops where, in groups, they worked on different scenes from the play and gave a presentation in the afternoon in costumes loaned by Mary. As the pupils had no knowledge of the text beforehand they received it with a newness and enthusiasm showing a willingness to work. This was the attitude even of the groups with low literacy skills.

"Mary's work with my group has saved me three weeks of difficult and stressful teaching"  Rachel Hammond, English teacher, Year 9 and Head of Year 10.

The second project at Parkside was to develop the creative writing skills of Year 10 and inspire imaginative and exciting writing.

Mary taught all the English groups of Year 10. She began by  teaching a drama workshop where, in groups, the class worked on a theme. Mary's technique of in-depth improvisation based on intense concentration is most definitely not ad libbing or "making it up as you go along" but an art form in itself which leads to work of a high quality. Having developed the characters and atmosphere in this way the pupils then transferred this to written form. It should be stressed that, despite working in groups in the drama, no two pieces of written work were the same.

One group, without being asked, worked in total silence for 25 minutes. A group with low literacy skills did not write down their work but dictated the first and last sentence to their class teacher, who then developed this in class afterwards. Of course the work of all the pupils needed development in later lessons but, according to all the English department, Mary had fulfilled her brief to deliver exciting and creative writing generated by enthusiastic pupils.

Action Arts was established by the director, Mary Carr as a

drama-based literacy development organisation which is able to provide artists for collaborative projects if required.

 

NOVEMBER 2007

 

In August Mary was invited to Belfast in Northern Ireland to work on an estate at

Rathcoole. This sectarian estate had many issues with the young people there and

Mary was to work with three distinct groups: children 6-11yrs, young people and adults with disabilities and young people 12-16yrs and the project was organised by Adrian Smith Project Co-ordinator for the Synergy Centre based on the estate

 

In the event the last two groups combined and developed a play performance for

public presentation (as part of the funding requirements).

 

As Mary said to Adrian,

“Meeting them for the first time on Monday three days and five workshops later,a

public performance, no pressure Adrian, no pressure!!”

 

So successful was the production that Adrian is seeking further funding so that Mary can go back and continue her work there.

 

Mary cannot emphasise enough how friendly and helpful every-one was especially

Adrian who gave up his cottage so that Mary and her husband could stay there for the week and Harry who hosted her during her work.

 

Since returning from Ireland Mary has been working on finalising an on-going project begun two years ago. This very unusual project was one of helping two young people with learning disabilities into independent living in a house owned by one of them. Usually houses for this purpose are owned by a housing association working in conjunction with social services.

 

It was the unconventionality of the project where Mary’s skills as experienced project coordinator were needed. The team from Social Services, Derbyshire was excellent

working way beyond the call of duty and showing great vision in their outlook but the other agencies such as housing and care agencies were very nervous at taking the initiative on such an unorthodox way of working. It took all Mary’s skill in persuading them to take decisions and push the project forward. Anyway on October 8th the young people moved in and although there are still some loose ends to tie up the project is all but complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For examples of Collaborative Projects and other work

see over:     

 

SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER 2008

 

During these months Mary devised a reading scheme for children aged 7-10 years in mainstream schools with low or no reading skills. Based on her experience in teaching children with disabilities and, in particular, being involved with their learning to read, Mary's reading scheme was  taught by teachers and parents on a daily basis.

 

 Mary wrote the books to accompany the reading scheme as and when appropriate.

 

The success was an autistic boy aged seven, who in July 2008 had been described as unable to grasp the concept of reading and was unlikely to develop his reading skills as he had  reached a plateau of learning to read.

 

He began Mary's scheme, which is particular in the way it is taught as well as the content, in August 2008. On October 28th he read, without help or mistakes, the first book written by Mary. Encouraged by this success he wanted to learn to read more and more.

 

He then developed his reading sufficiently to read a further two books. From December 18th to January 10th he read four more new books without help or mistakes. He is almost ready for the next book, making the seventh in total since August, and should be reading this by about January 17th.

 

This phenomenal success can be attributed to the way in which this particular scheme is taught and that Mary's books do not have pictures so the child is in a position of having to read the words carefully rather than guessing at the story.

 

Any parents or teachers interested in this reading scheme should contact Mary for further information.

 

 

 

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