Drama highlights at Expo Manchester 17 August 2017


Head of content Sarah Lambie on what’s hot at the inaugural Manchester Music & Drama Education Expo

The Music & Drama Education Expo has been running in London since 2013 (with drama joining the party in 2015) and has over its ­first five years introduced thousands of teachers to their peers; to brand new products, books and services; and to the newest ideas in drama and music education. This year for the ­first time, the Expo comes to Manchester, so that our colleagues in Northern England, Wales and Scotland can more easily benefit from free CPD sessions led by industry-leading expert practitioners.

More compact than the London show: for one day only on 4 October 2017, there will nonetheless be more than 20 seminars, workshops and debates, the chance to meet and browse the services of over 50 key exhibitors, and the opportunity to network with 500 of your peers.

I’ve designed the drama programme for the first Manchester Expo so that you’ll get a good mix of new practical skills, ideas about assessment, up-to-date information about changes to the curriculum, and inspiration for cross-department or community work, for devising and for running workshops. And it all starts with a warm up which was a major highlight of Expo London 2017: a gospel choir workshop!

After the warm-up session a surprise is planned in the exhibition foyer, so keep your eyes peeled on the way to your first session of the day…

Then at 10:15 we begin with an inspirational case study: director, scriptwriter and lyricist Karen Mulcahey, and composer Dr Peter Birkby will present a seminar about an ambitious, multi-school collaborative project undertaken by Rotherham Music Service exploring composition, song-writing, drama and dance. Involving 500 children, the project celebrated the students’ hometown of Rotherham through the creation and performance of an original work. Now they are sharing their experience so you can learn how to plan and deliver a large-scale, inclusive project. Thoughts they share will incorporate timeframes, ­finances and resourcing, and dealing with possible obstacles.

At 11:20 in The Space – our dedicated workshop space for on-the-feet drama sessions – Mark Ruddick of Squire Stage Combat will deliver a second brand new session, especially curated for Expo Manchester: ‘Stage Combat in Classroom Study’. In his taster session for teachers, Mark will show you how to create a ­fight sequence from a study text. The session will encourage team work and communication in the staging of a scene and allow you to discover a new physical approach to exploring drama and drama texts. Mark hopes to show how stage combat can engage students with drama by focusing on the physical rather than the academic, and it’s not dif­ficult to imagine how your drama groups of all ages might be enthusiastic about learning to deliver a passionately heartfelt punch or slap!

At 12:15 a London Expo favourite tours to Manchester: STOMP!-style body percussion brought to us by Ollie Tumner of Beat Goes On – this is a fun physical session which will encourage ensemble work, listening, and a sense of rhythm: besides which a creative teacher could easily pick up tips from body percussion which could be used in soundscaping for devised or scripted drama. If this session isn’t drama-specific enough for your needs, however, this is a good part of the day in which to visit some of our exhibitor’s stands and see what products and services are on offer: many offer discounts which are exclusive to the Expo, so you can stock up your library or plan your next trip or in-school workshop.

In the afternoon, we turn to more curriculum-driven sessions to enhance your teaching, with two consecutive ones which focus on assessment. First, at 13:20, Karen Latto – known to many of you in her former role at OCR and now an independent education advisor, gives her expert guidance on changes to the curriculum in recent years, including co-teaching AS and A level, changing to 9-1 grading, vocational quali­fications, and 2019 performance tables. Karen will be able to answer all your curriculum questions, and as she’s no longer directly attached to an exam board, she won’t have to censor her answers!

Then at 14:20, another local expert comes to the Expo: Onur Orkut, Lecturer in Acting at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) puts forward his professional take on how to assess practical work in acting. We all know that assessing something as subjective as acting ability according to fixed mark criteria is dif­ficult and unsatisfactory: Onur will run a practical session incorporating the techniques of practitioners such as Stanislavski and look at how you can devise a set of evidences for your own assessments.

Finally, Emily Gray from Trestle Theatre reprises her enormously successful and popular session from Expo London at 15:20 – ‘Mask and Musical Theatre in Education’. Using masks to explore the true story of Yarico, which involves love and betrayal in a cross-cultural relationship, and the issue of enslaved peoples, both historically and contemporaneously, Emily will show you how to use masks to enable character exploration, development and devising, and prove that theatre in education can be effective across a range of subjects.

And as you’re leaving, keep your eyes peeled in the foyer: that surprise I mentioned earlier might pop up again…

I do hope to see you there: come and introduce yourself, it’s always lovely to meet readers and other drama teachers.

Expo Manchester will take place at the Hilton Deansgate Hotel on 4 October 2017 from 9am until 5pm. Book your free ticket here!

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