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Spotlight on Drama Teacher Joe Bromley

Joe Bromley has many years’ experience of teaching, acting, directing and writing.  She loves drama and creativity and encourages students to write their own pieces for performance.  She also has her own theatre company, Really Big Pants, specifically for primary-aged children. This week we caught up with Joe to hear about her classes at Jigsaw Ealing and find more about the teacher behind the Jigsaw T-shirt. 

What are you working on this term at Jigsaw Ealing?

It is currently presentation term in Ealing, and Group 1 have been focusing on… timing.  They’re presenting The Wonky Donkey, which involves some audience participation and will (hopefully!) be very funny.  But we’ve gone quite serious for the other groups – Group 3 have been studying elements of The Hate U Give and have worked extremely hard on blending narration and dialogue into a powerful extract.  And Group 2 have gone rogue – we have taken inspiration from Hamilton and they’ve written their very own hip-hop poems to perform about issues they want to address.  The creativity that has come out in class has been astounding and I am extremely proud of them.

As well as being a teacher for Jigsaw you are also a published writer and run your own theatre company.  Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about your theatre company, Really Big Pants?

There are only two of us in the company, and we do everything from sourcing the props and washing the costumes, to processing the bookings and then getting out on the road to schools, theatres, arts centres, bookshops, libraries, museums, castles, festivals – you name it! – and performing!  It is specifically for primary-aged children and we wrote three shows with themes that we really cared about: literacy, the environment, and self-esteem.  (And yes, a pair of really big pants feature in each one.)

Can you tell us a bit about your book Suddenly… and other stories?

The book is an adaptation of our storytelling show, plus two further adventures for the main characters, Grandma and Red.  It features gorgeous illustrations throughout and was written to delve deeper into their world.  It was a joy, and a lifelong dream.  There is a sequel swirling in the mists of my head, but next up is a book of poetry to go with another one of our shows!

What would your advice be to a young person who is keen to write but doesn’t know where to start?

Read!  Read, read, read, and then read some more!  And then just write.  Structure and grammar and spelling and all that malarkey matter, but creating a story is the most important part.  There are so many ways to tell stories – making them up and acting them out with your friends or dolls (or compliant pets), or drawing them in a comic strip, or simply observing somebody and then imagining a little adventure for them, are all great ways to think up a plot but then sit and write it down.  It doesn’t have to be perfect straightaway.  That’s what editing is for.  Practice.  The more you write, the better you’ll get.  Go for it.

What do you think are the benefits of the performing arts?

I believe the benefits are endless.  They are a mirror for values and play a vital part in everyday life – not just having the confidence to express yourself, but also as an outlet for creativity.  What would life be like without expression?

Food for thought indeed!

Jigsaw Performing Arts is dedicated to developing performance skills, promoting self-expression and building confidence. We offer performing arts classes for children aged between 3 – 18. Find your nearest school by entering your postcode into the search on our home page