On we go to Day 3:
Let’s get creating and set our imaginations free

A fresh new day began for our young artists with two exhilarating workshops led by FLO and Conrad. We began an extremely fun and useful vocal preparation exercise. This exercise gives all involved the chance to create music without an instrument. We all created sounds that we easily repeated. With FLO as our conductor, we were able to experience performing at different tempos and volumes and merge our sounds with those of others. It was a valuable lesson in voice projection for our young performers.

We followed onto Conrad’s workshop on Flow (not to be confused with FLOetic Lara lol). Flow is what dictates the way a rapper will deliver his lines. The example of hit 90’s sitcom Fresh Prince theme song proved very useful and had the group following nursery rhyme-esque flow of Will Smith’s delivery. Conrad impressed on our artists that rhyming flow is very important to a rapper, to ensure he can ride the waves of a beat.

This point was further illustrated by a game called Spell Your Name, in which you spell your name with a rhyming flow provided by hand claps or feet taps.

After the break, the ground-breaking work began as our artists set about adding levels to their pieces through the writing and performing of their works. As a facilitator, I must say I am excited to see our artists’ pieces come alive. We have pieces ranging from the cruel unrealistic expectations of people to an anthem against bullying.

Yes, it’s Raw Roads: IMAGINE Day 2!
Time to learn something new

On our second day, our budding artists learned three valuable lessons: telling a story for song, lyricism and devising.

We gathered in a circle of chairs to discuss the purpose of this workshop and our aim. When suddenly, FLOetic Lara delivered a performance that stirred and moved us. She performed a beautiful piece about her own story: growing up, being misunderstood and how she persevered/pushed herself forward. Following a worthy applause, she imparted the most important words a young, nervous creative needs to hear:

  1. The Nerves are Still There
    Every performer, either upcoming or established, feels extremely nervous. The shakes go through your hands as you deliver your words. It happens to everyone irrespective of experience level.
  1. You Have to Try & Push Yourself
    You have to tell your story. It is so important to tell your story.

On this note, we moved onto my workshop on Story Structure. We began with a game of Numbers: an energetic grouping game, where players must quickly get into groups of the number called. Fun ensued before a new addition to the game was introduced: ‘Snapshot/ Freeze Frame.’ A group would now need to create a still image based on a topic they were given.

From ‘The Fight’ to ‘The Race’, our groups created manikin challenge level freeze frames that could rival any challenge from X-Factor, Michelle Obama or Taylor Swift may attempt.

I broke down the story structure: the elements that must be included in any story. Characters’ motivation, beginning to end, and obstacles/challenges that a character either can or cannot overcome. Following this talk, there came a devising exercise. Groups were instructed to create an image based on three topics: ‘The Rescue, The Rap Battle and The Airport’, and eventually created the beginning and ending images to complete a full story.

This proved to be a very useful exercises, as the participants became infused with thinking of character motivations and how they would react in such intense situations. Certain images were brought to life for ten seconds, which gave everyone a chance to perform for a short while.

This led to Jesse’s workshop, which delved into rhyming structures. First, as a group of participants we engaged in a simple 1, 2, 3, 4 counting beat structure. At this time, we began to learn about rhyming and how to get a sense for delivering bars (lines) on this particular rhythm structure.

With this information, we were then to find a word that easily rhymes and replace our counting on 4 with that selection of words.

Example 1:
Cat
Hat
Sat
Acrobat

We then worked through basic rhyming structure such as A, B, B, A – A, A, B, B, as groups were given the task of creating four bars or more based on the rhyme structure.

For example:
(A) My brother hates cats
(B) He doesn’t think their cool
(B) I think that he’s a fool
(A) They wear the best hats

With this information the challenge was on to create bars (lines) with a beat (clapping, counting) that worked with our lines. I was floored by each group’s variations, delivery and sheer ability to push themselves to do something they’ve never done before.

After the break, we came together offering the floor to anyone who wanted to showcase their talent. It was a great chance for the participants to deliver their talents and to start to map out where we wanted to go.

Our team members began to work with the participants, starting to map out pieces: what they are and what our artists would like them to be. A good place to be in by the end of the second day.

Raw Roads touches down in Nottingham:
A day to meet new budding artists and for new works of art to begin sprouting

First day! We have landed off the arts ship Enterprise IMAGINE to work with the future artists of Nottingham.

Our proceedings got started properly with a good old fashioned surprise as rapper, producer & DJ Conrad Kira dropped his hit track Baka (Bully) and Reuben performed his poem ‘What makes a black man?’ Both artists offered an example of their artistry and the origins & motivations for crafting their creations. It was no coincidence that both pieces tied into the mandate of the core mission of IMAGINE.

Imagine a world that stops at the press of a button and becomes fixed to the voice of one person out of 7 billion. This voice is yours. What would you say? If you could change the world forever with this powerful button, what would you change?

We get to know our participants through fun games Stop and Go, Name and Action and the classic Zip Zap Boing.

We then delved into one of the most influential technique for creating new work through Mind Mapping. FLOetic Lara displayed what a mind-map is and how an artist can use it to produce a subject to focus on, as well as rhyming words that can be turned into a poem, rap and/or a spoken word monologue. (See photographs below to get an idea of examples.)

We were able to see the things our young artists were preoccupied with, like Gangs, Foods, Notts Street (Nottingham) & Things They Like. It was also useful for them to gage a way to creating new work.

Following the break, we split off into two groups (The Rappers and The Singers/Poets) and delved into two separate challenges. The group I was in got a chance to discuss the IMAGINE concept; our mission and what drives the new work that we seek to support and make. So, if you could stop the world and make everyone focus on you, what would you say? The participants came up with the themes of:

  1. The double standards being applied to women and men are unacceptable
  2. Negative perceptions of young people are unfair
  3. The news has a lot to do with the negative perceptions people have of young people
  4. Too many people dismiss the younger generation for a number of unacceptable reasons

FLO then set a very cool writing challenge: write two lines on certain topic, fold your paper over the first line and pass it to the person next to you. They will then continue with a new topic and write two new lines. The result of this challenge was five potent, powerful poems.

As the groups joined back together, we shared the outcomes with each other. Our group read aloud the poems, while the Rappers performed the new bars they have written..

As our workshop came to a close, we had a simple checkout: Describe in two words your feelings towards today’s workshop?

Top answers included:

  1. Eventful Experience
  2. Pleasantly Surprising
  3. Calm and Cas’
  4. Chilled and Comfortable

A cipher then ensued, as Conrad took to the decks and Jesse to the microphone. We encouraged people to stay and learn by action: with Day 1 done, it was time to have some fun.

 

The poster for the Nottingham IMAGINE showcase began its life in Stone Soup Academy’s art therapist and drummer Gemma’s small, cosy office. Working to a design brief, Dylen W wasted no time in creating the layout for the poster, making sure all content and logos are exactly where and how he wanted them to be. A photo shoot outside the Nottingham Contemporary gallery followed, with some passers by having to dodge Ryan’s camera to avoid being in the frame. The central image (inside the mirror) was taken by Sally at College Street Centre, and Gemma finished putting all elements together. A very big thank you to Keith at John e Wright, who pushed to get it printed just before closing time. Well done to all who made this happen!!!

 

Day two saw everyone bright and early and ready to get going. We plays some brain-twisting games, then dived straight into two back-t-back creative skills workshops. Reuben led a workshop about structuring a piece, the use of a developmental arc (beginning/set up > middle/conflict – end/resolution), and the necessary components of each part of a piece. He used image-building, or tableaus, to explore devising with out words. We created three different stories (a car crash on a cliff-edge, a rap battle and a bomb on an airplane) without using a word, and brought to briefly to life. Then Jesse took us straight into understanding the use of beats and rhyming when writing bars, and we all had a go and created short raps. The room then became a hub of concentrated creativity, with everyone bouncing ideas for new pieces, co-writing and free-styling. It was a long and fruitful day.

[pics by Gemma Mills]

After ”setting shop’ at the College Street Centre’s Studio Theatre, we opened our doors to a large group of young local people who were interested in what Raw Roads has to offer. After Conrad blew us away with his rap about bullying, and Reuben stunned us with his powerful piece “What Makes a Black Man?”, we began practicing some devising skills, using mind maps to explore possible topics for new raps/song/poems/drama works. Some more games and activities got everyone involved and creative It was an eventful day, which ended with a wicked open mike and fast beats section.

[photos by Gemma Mills]