Page 10 - FIS World November 2021
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 Tales from the Altstadt
Students perform a theatrical Ghost Walk in Oberursel
8 FIS World November 2021
On Halloween weekend, students from the Grade 10 Performance Theatre and Grade 11 IB Theatre classes performed an original piece of promenade theatre in Oberursel’s historic Old Town. Below, FIS Dance and Drama teacher Jez Gregg tells us the genesis of this vibrant and innovative project.
For the last year and a half we have all had to find alternatives, different ways to adapt socially, professionally and educationally. These can easily
seem like roadblocks and finding the energy to overcome them can be energy sapping. I always carry the mantra with me that “there are no problems, only solutions.” One of the skills I believe we have all developed is the ability to create contingencies before the problem has presented itself, so you are ready to think on your feet rather than being dead on your feet. This project was about both of those things – thinking on your own feet and bringing the dead to theirs.
It was a Sunday afternoon in late August this year and I was strolling through the Oberursel Altstadt with my family, admiring the buildings, the city wall and the spaces within the spaces. At that moment I thought about the characters that have lived in the town and the stories that have played out through time. It was a light bulb moment – given that we could not perform inside with masks off or have a live, in-person audience, what if instead we created a performance that ran through the Oberursel Altstadt, bringing historical characters to life and telling their
stories, or at least based on their stories. A contingency presented itself
– a Ghost Walk – but for
which class?
The Grade 10–12
Theatre class at FIS
is designed to offer students the opportunity to develop and refine skills in devising, theatre making and performance, so naturally I pitched the project to the students. They were so alive and engaged with the idea that I wondered if they’d actually be able to play ghosts. Where would we find the stories to gain enough knowledge to inspire their creative decision making in devising? A quick email to my FIS colleagues in Old Main and Sylvia Struck, a docent for the city of Oberursel, was put forward. Ms. Struck leads tours of the Altstadt, telling of the stories within the walls.
With a tour booked, students made a short day trip to the Altstadt with notebooks, cameras, eyes and
ears open – and lots of questions. The students' minds were fueled with historical knowledge of the town, the people, their stories and the legends that inspire the town’s traditions. Their brains were well and truly filled with nourishment for devising original theatre.
Back in the drama studio at school, students unraveled the stories and ideas from the tour, wrote their reactions down on paper, saved audio recordings in shared folders and decided who would be responsible for each story. They also allocated specific locations for each story and found members of the group to design and organize costumes, the props and the overall structure of the piece. Each lesson, the students bounced into the studio, organized themselves, wrote stories into scripts, practiced scenes, and worked with mask, costume and flashlights to figure out how to fully realize a Ghost Walk that had the
intention of communicating partially authentic stories about the town, spooking the audience and giving them a memorable experience through atmosphere, meaning and good storytelling.
My Upper School Drama colleague,
Daniel Sarstedt, and I had purposefully aligned our two classes (IB Theatre and Performance Theatre 10-12) so that we could collaborate
at any given moment. This is where the first opportunity presented itself. The IB Theatre Class had also attended

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