ACTOR Mark McGann recently made an appearance at Matravers School, running two workshops for drama students.
Mark, a member of the McGann acting family who starred in the TV series ‘The Grand’ and the movie ‘Shackleton’ among many other credits, used his experience and expertise to help students prepare for their GCSE examinations.
Heather Leach, director of specialism at Matravers explained, “We are always trying to make the expressive and performing arts curriculum at Matravers School pertinent to the professional arena so that the students are aware of the possibilities open to them outside school. We encourage the students to visit performances, work with dance companies, visit galleries and have master classes with visiting musicians so that they take advantage of specialist professional mentors to raise attainment and aspiration.
“With this in mind Miss Mowat and I have been able to arrange for Mark McGann, a member of the McGann acting family to come to Matravers School to run two workshops for all the year 11 boys who are completing their GCSE course this year.
“Mark is just back from working in China and then starred in ‘Lennon Remembered’ in Liverpool in the New Year. He also runs a company called Drama Direct, which works in schools to enable students to gain practical experience of the film industry and also how different techniques are used in the theatre.
“This has been an amazing opportunity for our students just as they prepare their scripts and performances for their final GCSE examinations. We are offering this to the boys as, while some are relishing the prospect of tackling a devised piece for their examination some of them are finding preparing for their performances difficult. The contemporary script, chosen especially by Miss Mowat, addresses issues relevant to young men. It is written for a male cast so this made it ideal for our boys group. This opportunity will give them professional expertise and support as they explore new ways of working. The boys who are planning a future in drama will have this experience on their CV which will look impressive in a couple of years’ time.
“Day one looked at performing for the stage, the interaction between characters and engaging with the script. Students worked with Mark on developing the script, working on holding stills and creating a final run through of one of the scenes.
“Day two looked at how to film actors working from the script, looking at sight lines, the professional practice on a film set, how to light a scene, be a director, cameraman and get to say “Cut!”
“Students had to learn quite complicated sets of lines and work in their groups to film their scenes. We have been impressed with the students’ ability to respond to professional advice, which reinforces their classroom techniques, and at the end of the two days, they have had an amazing opportunity to be immersed in the techniques of the trade. From the roughs it looks as if the students have created credible characters and most have excelled themselves.
“Mark has taken away the films for editing, which will take a week or so, and then we will have a short evening performance so that the parents can see just how much progress they have made and support them in their examination preparation.”