Mustard Tree Drama Group meet every Wednesday at 16:00 – 17:30 upstairs at Mustard Tree and participate in engaging drama exercises and create their own work. There are no scripts, just participants and their imaginations! Classes are led by Fran and Rosarie and welcome new budding actors! If you would like to join the group please call or text Fran & Rosaire on 07749 110154 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mustard Tree Drama Group would like to present a few excerpts from their classes. The have had a very busy year so far performing for the Art Studio Exhibition Launch and at the Manchester Museum and would like to share what they get up to each week…
Word on the Street, Spring 2012
‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’
This is a myth. This is not true. Words that we say to people can have a major impact on other people. Words can hurt. Words can bring on pain. Words can leave emotional scars. Likewise words can edify, affirm and build someone up. Words can make someone feel good. Words can brighten someone’s day. In this performance the group showed how words like ‘scared’, ‘death’ and ‘crying’ are full of negativity, where words like, ‘forgiveness’, ‘sorry’ and ‘life’ can have a positive impact.
Elf and Safety, Winter 2012
Santa is getting preparing to deliver Christmas presents when he has an unexpected visitor from health and safety interrupts his plans. It turns out nowadays going down people’s chimneys is considered trespassing, elves have no workers rights and it is considered animal cruelty to make reindeer fly throughout the night. Santa very quickly becomes disenchanted with Christmas and disappears. All is not lost however as people manage to convince Santa the good things about Christmas such as family, friendship and giving still remains. Santa returns to the grotto just in time to deliver all the presents over the world.
Angels and Demons, Autumn 2012
To promote the launch of Graham Hudson’s art exhibition of Angels and Demons the group created a drama based on the same theme. They physicalized traditional angels and demons and then performed ‘modern’ versions of angels and demons. For example a modern demon could be inner negative thoughts that tell us we are no good where as a modern angel can be a friend that supports us in our hour of need.
Grafting, Autumn 2012
In this economic climate where many services were being cut, unemployment was high and people’s jobs were at risk we looked at work and how it has changed over the years. Was it really better in the good old days? Although there might have been a better sense of community there was little or no support for those who were in poverty. Was there more pride in work? What if you couldn’t afford hospital bills? What rights did workers have? There were plenty more questions on this hot topic explored through the drama the group created.
I was…I am…I will… Summer 2012
- What do you want to leave behind?
- How do you define yourself now?
- What do you hope for the future?
The group created a performance in response to these questions. These are some of the examples of the group’s statements:
- I was… Conned
- I am… Lost
- I will… Get help
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
To celebrate the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth the drama group created a piece in response to the work of one of Britain’s greatest authors. Like Dickens the group focused on class differences and the effect that has on finances, justice and above all, accents!
The night opened at Nexus Art Cafe with a James Bond like video trailer featuring the drama group workshops over the last year. The group then performed their scenes featuring an Egyptian Pharaoh, the plight of a freedom fighter and a not so average Manchester street. There were monologues written and performed such as a lawyers closing argument in a court case and an Iranian refugee’s memories of being 16, ‘I’d tell him to eat less!’ These were interspersed by digital stories:
- Dr Quincy and a bit of a shock in the morgue.
- A children’s bed time story
- The poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling read by a Mustard Tree Volunteer
- A narrated scene from a soap opera
- The poem, ‘Citizen and Soldier’ by Wole Soyinka
- The poem, ‘The Winds Within’ by Richard Baron
Race For Life, May 2011
In the Race For Life those who train and work hard win gold and silver but what about those who are left behind? Those who struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol, those that have no roof over their head and those who get stuck with the label of ‘waster’ or ‘junky’ that they just can’t seem to shake off. Race For Life focuses on these stories and what happens when they try to change and sometimes don’t succeed.
This was Mustard Tree Drama Group’s first ever full-scale production with a stage, lights, camera and plenty of action. On the 25th May at Salford Arts Theatre the group performed ‘Race For Life’ to an audience of around fifty-five people. The performers were fantastic! They were focused, gave the performance energy and had clear characterisations. The audience really enjoyed the production and commented afterwards how great the whole performance had been.
International Women’s Day
Thursday 10th March 2011
In the build up to International Women’s Day we started a women’s only drama group who would perform on the day. This was a collaboration of ideas between the women’s arts and crafts group and the drama. As ever things sometimes don’t always turn out how they are planned. However in the group we worked on intimate storytelling. We made stories up, looked at stories that were important to us and looked at personal life stories. In the end we created a collection of these stories varying from the creation of the world to a woman leaving Africa to look for a new life in the UK. We also shared what we remember as important and how that changes at different stages in our lives. We were very grateful to all the women that contributed to the stories even though some of them could not make the performance. We were also grateful for those that did perform even though it was something completely new and daunting they were incredibly brave!
Performed 15th December 2010
Ryan Stone, the man who had everything.
He was rich, ran his own business, had a wife, family and even a Ferrari. Mr Stone had money to burn, or so he thought. One too many trips to the casino and soon all the money that was to pay for the cars, the holiday, the mortgage, his sons education was gambled away. When his money went his family and friends soon followed and Ryan was left with nothing and nowhere to go. He ended up on the streets, cold, hungry and alone. One day someone told him about a soup run that might be able to help him out. He went along and someone there told him about other services he could access. People who would help him. People he could rely on.
The cast worked very hard for this performance. It all started with the story of Job from the Bible and the question what would a modern story of Job look like? The group created the character of Ryan Stone and devised the scenes that showed his story from being a man who had everything to having nothing. Something a lot of the group could identify with.
Mustard Tree Drama Group started on Thursday 6th May. Since then we had been meeting weekly with a bit of a break over summer. It was important then to show off what the group had achieved so on Monday 11th October they took part in a ‘sharing’ performance. This was a collection of scenes, some were about the politics of Santa’s office and the difficulties of dealing with elves who want better working conditions, others were about a crime that had been committed and whether the perpetrator was going to give way to police interrogation. The group performed excellently even though some had never been in a performance before. They were also not phased by the minimal audience and focused like professionals.
Photographs by courtesy of Gbenga Afolabi