The Play Group

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 Im September 2016 werden Sie mit ihrem neuen Stück ("Elementary Watson" wieder bei uns sein.

 

Seit vielen Jahren ist die Play Group ein fester Bestandteil vieler Schulen in Berlin und Brandenburg. Auch an unserer Schule ist sie meist im September zu

Gast und begeistert mit ihren Auftritten Schüler unserer 5. - 8. Klassen und auch Schüler der Tews-Grundschule. Durch ihren originellen und sehr kreativen Umgang mit

bekannten Theaterstücken verschiedener Autoren schaffen sie es sehr schnell die Schüler mitzureisen und zu einer Mitwirkung zu animieren.

In dem nun folgenden Text stellt sich die Truppe selbst vor:

The Play Group is dedicated to performing theatre for non-native speakers using  accessible, dynamic English. We also like to use humour as we believe that comedy is a great way to stimulate young audiences. Simply said it keeps them awake! We also like to involve students in our shows and in every show we take between three and four students, teach them a couple of lines and dress them in a simple costume. The scene they're involved in usually lasts about 10 minutes. When we do this the whole audience is completely focussed on what's happening onstage. They don't know- and we don't know- how their friends will perform. It's a risk, but it's very stimulating for them to see how the scene unfolds. It usually goes very well.
We believe that theatre is a powerful medium for teaching English. Theatre uses gesture, voice, music, visuals (the set) and movement. All combine to touch the audiences' emotions. Very often students follow the plot of our plays not even realising that they are listening in a foreign language. One of the most satisfying comments that we hear is when a student says to his or her teacher " I understood everything".  This is very good for a student's self-esteem and helps in their motivation for learning English.

We like to adapt plays from famous British or Irish playwrights as this allows students, no matter how young, to be introduced to the works of such authors as Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde. We also produce a teachers' kit or didactic packet which helps students learn something about the play we are about to show them. The packet contains the most important words, a description of the characters, notes on the author and lots of practical activities. 

How The Play Group were formed:

I live in Naples, south Italy but  from 1981 to 1987 I lived in Berlin, the capital of Germany It was a very exciting and a very special city, with a the famous wall completely surrounding it.
I acted in various theatre companies and taught English in a language school called Babylonia. In 1986 I saw a play by an English company called The Berlin Play Actors. Simon worked in the group and we became friends.
In 1987 I moved to Naples. I was tired of the grey skies of Berlin. I found Naples and the Neapolitans so fascinating. In 1989 I organised The Berlin Play Actors tour of South Italy. When the actors saw Naples they fell in love with the place. Simon was no exception. He returned on holiday and as I was performing cabaret in some literary cafés. I invited him to do an improvised show. Because a famous British cruise ship was visiting Naples at the time Simon pretended to be the English vicar (priest) of the ship and walked into the café telling lots of funny stories. He even spoke some Neapolitan. It was a big success.
Simon returned to Berlin and I continued my new life in Naples. I taught English and performed one man shows in Italian. I also did a film called “Valentina”. At this time my father, Johnny, was often in Naples on holiday. He is from London but lived in Berlin. In 1990 Simon decided that he was also tired of the grey skies of Berlin and moved to Naples. We began to write a funny version of Cinderella. We learnt some Neapolitan expressions and performed the piece in a bar in the old town of Naples. It was a great success. At the time we used cassettes for the music and special effects. We had to keep stopping the show in order to change the cassettes. Then we realised that Johnny could do that for us. A star was born!! We did lots of shows in the centre of Naples. One evening a teacher from the British Council in Naples saw the show. He asked us if we could do it in English for their students. It was December and the British Council wanted to offer them a Christmas pantomime. We translated the show into English and did two performances.
We then realised that there was a market for English theatre and contacted Galleria Toledo, a theatre in Naples. We suggested putting on shows for students. They liked the idea and we performed some some scenes from The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wild and Waiting for Godot by Samuel Becket. We also did a comedy show, Not a Tea Party. The shows were a big success. It was around this time (1991) that we heard about L’astrolabio, our agent in Milan who organises our North Italy tours. I remember our first tour, we were crazy- we decided to do the Classic show (by Wild and Becket) and the comedy, so one day we would do Not a Tea Party for a junior school at 8.30 and then the classic show for a senior school at 11 a.m. That meant we had to travel Wight 8 suitcases of costumes! And in those days we travelled around by train. Nowadays we tour with only one show and we travel in our Fiat Ducato van. It’s very comfortable and allows us to be very flexible.
My father, Johnny, died in 2007. In the last years of his life he still worked with us. We gave him very small roles. His roles were taken by Francesco, who we met 17 years ago. Francesco is from Naples. We met him in Le Nuvole theatre.

So that’s a brief history of The Play Group. I forgot to mention that we also give seminars or workshops to teachers. We share our experiences of theatre and show them how they can use theatre in the classroom. That’s how I met my Italian wife, Mariacira. It was 1992 and Simon and I gave a seminar in the British Council in Naples