Imaginative Ways to Deliver Discover in a Day featuring Brave Bold Drama
BY: Amy Lee
06 May 2022
Brave Bold Drama is an award-winning theatre and community arts company based in Withywood, south Bristol, led by theatre makers Gill Simmons and Paul Lawless. They’ve used their wonderful creativity and flair to deliver a unique Arts Award Discover in a Day programme, which was shared with Withywood primaries. Gill explains how they conceived the programme, the company’s ‘alter ego’, and its success over the last year:
Brave Bold Drama’s community art activities are designed to specifically serve the ward of Hartcliffe and Withywood which experiences some of the highest levels of multiple deprivation in the UK. Brave Bold Drama has been an Arts Award centre since 2013 and is proud to be recognised as a Trinity Champion Centre for both 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.
Gill Simmons, who set up the company in 2013, is also an experienced secondary drama teacher. She worked in several schools across the UK since 2000 before going freelance in 2013. Her previous experience in supporting young people through curriculums and courses is extremely useful to her when designing new ways for Brave Bold Drama to deliver Arts Award courses.
Brave Bold Drama has previously run a Silver Arts Award in street photography, an Arts Award Explore as a multi-arts extra-curricular activity in a primary school, and is currently running a Bronze Arts Award in theatre making with young people at Hartcliffe Club for Young People, but this blog is going to focus on a very specific way of delivering Arts Award Discover in a day that Brave Bold Drama first developed in 2021...
During the lockdown of 2020, Brave Bold Drama created an alter ego for itself. They became The Company of International Artists (CIA), a top secret global creative agency. This CIA is all about supporting young people to find interesting ideas hiding in art, and encouraging them to express their ideas by making new art. The CIA devised a series of “Creative Missions”, comprising of art materials, a printed document and a short film featuring Agents Kahlo and Dali (played by Gill Simmons and Paul Lawless). These missions were shared with Withywood primaries and were a playful mix of art history, hands-on creativity and theatre that could be completed at home. As schools re-opened, Brave Bold Drama wanted to see what else Agents Kahlo and Dali could do, and it became clear that leading young people through an Arts Award Discover in one day, in character, would be a really good fit.
Fouracres Primary in Withywood were very open to the idea and agreed to free up a Year 4 class for a whole day to the Company of International Artists. Ahead of the day, Brave Bold Drama took all the art materials required to the school, ready for use by the teachers there. On the day, Brave Bold Drama connected online with the classroom. Agents Kahlo, Dali and a third actor who played a character called Agent Bourgeois each led a session focusing on the self-portraits of Frida Kahlo, the impossible animals of Salvador Dali and the natural world of Louise Bourgeois. The agents all returned at the end of the day to lead the class through a sharing and feedback exercise where the newly recruited creative agents could reflect on the work they had achieved.
All creative work made on the day was filed and stored in the school until the Arts Award Discover certificates were ready. Brave Bold Drama framed these, then arranged to visit the school in person to give out the certificates. There was a lot of excitement at the idea of meeting Agents Kahlo and Dali in person, and the young people were proud to receive their certificates in a slightly mad-cap awards ceremony. They took their certificates and folders home on the same day so people at home had some context about the significance of the certificate.
Feedback from students:
'I enjoyed everything because I’m really into drawing!'
'I enjoyed being able to express myself.'
'I enjoyed adding the paint to my self-portrait.'
'Frida Kahlo was so inspiring because she wasn’t afraid to show the world how she really was.'
Feedback from staff:
'It was great to be able to step back and watch them work creatively.'
'This has been brilliant for boosting their self-confidence, self-belief and resilience.'
'They’ve had so much fun and were thoroughly engaged. Thank you!'
Brave Bold Drama will continue to offer online and in-person Arts Award Discover in a Day courses as the Company of International Artists for schools in Hartcliffe and Withwyood. They are also currently developing a commission with Bristol Museum and Art Gallery to devise an Arts Award Discover course as the Company of International Artists which museum staff will be able to use with school groups visiting the museum.'
To find out more about Brave Bold Drama’s work, visit their website:
The Company of International Artists also has its own website:
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