Patch Theatre Company

Much of the philosophy of Extraordinary Kids, especially for drama, is so heavily influenced by a small children's  theatre company in Adelaide. A tiny company who punches way, way above her weight internationally. Most of it is due to a guy called Dave . It was always an incredible journey of self discovery working there  I remember doing a particular scene where I was a servant and i was to share my lunch with the king. ( I think the king had gone broke or something.) I gave the king this little brown box that contained brown bread and honey. "Brown bread and honey?????" said the king. “ Yes brown bread and honey.” I gave the box to the king.  But i gave it to him like I was handing over my ID as Dave patiently pointed out.  This helped me learn to imbue - To give value to something just by how you handle it.  

The way you hold the box it has to have a specialness. You have to hold it like it is something precious. I was so crap at that at first.

We do a simple exercise at EK where i ask Kids to pick up something from around the room and walk up to another kid standing in the circle and say “from me to you” The object of the exercise is to imbue a piece of fluff or a rag with incredible fragility and importance. 

Imbue. its one of my favorite words.. 


For more information on Patch




Scripts Middle group




A: How did you go in your end of year exams 

B: I got an A, B and a C

A: Well done!!!

B: Thanks. 

A: And what other letters do you think you will learn next year






Teacher : Imagine you were in a world of dinosaurs. and they dinosaur was going to eat you. What would you do?


Kid : Err.. stop imagining?





Element of surprise


Teacher: Right. get out your physics books everyone. Ok Jenny can you give me an example of an element? 11311


Jenny:  RAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!


Teacher: ahhhhhhhh! what. was. that? 


Jenny. “That” was the element of surprise.




Mean but fair


Mum: Hi how was your first day how would you describe your teacher.

Kid: She’s mean and cruel …but fair 

Mum: Meanand cruel but fair? what do you mean by that?

Kid: SHe’s mean and cruelto everyone.



Abstract noun


Teacher: AN abstract noun is something you can think of but you cant touch. Can you give me an example of an abstract noun.


Kid: Dads car.











scare his parents


Dad:  Can I see your report card?

Kid: No. My mate borrowed it.

Dad: Your mate borrowed your report card? why did he do that?

Kid: He wanted to scare his parents






Teacher : Do you say your prayers before dinner?

Kid: No I don’t have to.

Teacher and why not?

Kid: My mum’s a good cook






Life after death

Kid: Excuse me miss, Is there life after death?

Teacher: Hmm well err…. Why do you ask 

Kid: I need the extra time to finish all ofthe homework you gave us.





Teacher: never use “A” before a plural. For example you don't say “a cows.”

Pupil: but why does the preacher say Amen!





teacher: what does your history book tell you about the civil war

Kid: It didn't tell me anything. I had to read the dam thing!






Teacher: What are you drawing Nelly?

Nelly: Im drawing a picture of god?

Teacher: Oh dear Nelly. NO one knows what god looks like..

Nelly: well, they will in a minute.







Mom: What did you do at school today?

Mark: We did a guessing game.

Mom: But I thought you were having a math exam.

Mark: That’s right! A guessing game



Teacher: “You know you can’t sleep in my class.”

Boy: “I know. But maybe if you were just a little quieter, I could.”



Teacher: What do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?

Student: A teacher?




Teacher: Tell me a sentence that starts with an "I". 

Student: I is the....

Teacher: Stop! Never put 'is' after an "I". Always put 'am' after an "I".

Student: OK. I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.



Teacher: “You know you can’t sleep in my class.”

Boy: “I know. But maybe if you were just a little quieter, I could.”


Sketch comedy

No one seems to be writing anymore. Especially sketch comedy. I remember the days of Monty Python. Brillant timeless scripts.  Or Comic strip presents with the likes of Ben Elton and Rick Mayall, or Little Britain.  Genuinely funny stuff. One of my goals over the next few years is to get kids to write. I think in years to come anyone who can generate content will prosper. Anyone who can make something that doesn't already exist on the net will have something of value. 


I’m starting with comedy. Im thinking a Saturday night live sort of a feel. When I was living in London a few years ago  I did a thing called News Review upstairs of the canal cafe. We met for a few hours a day and rehearsed scripts that independent writers had contributed. It was always based  around something that had happened in the news. We prided ourselves on “shockingly bad taste” that’s what someone said about it in a review. We would perform from Thursday though to Sunday and the content was constantly changing. I remember I always just barely knew my words. There was a constant terror that I was going to forget what would come next. The audience were so on your side and everything was so hit and miss. It was exhilarating. And brilliant training for an actor.


Scripts were sent in. If the writers script made it into the show they were paid for the script (beer money)  and often the actors would contribute  scripts as well. We would spend the day workshopping the ideas in the scripts. It was usually a synergy of ideas that made the script work. It was never one person’s thing. We always built on each others ideas. That happens a lot at EK. I bring in a really simple joke. The human cannon ball got fired….from his job… Then we would flesh out the characters. A boss and a human cannon ball. Then the human cannon ball  gets a personality. She rolls everywhere she goes. When she arrives she rolls forward. When she leaves she rolls backwards. The reason she is fired from her job develops. Eating too much and is too heavy for the gun. All of these contributions from different kids. The skit develops a life. There is a something now where there was just an idea before. 


So Im kicking around an idea for a comedy club for teens. I would have loved something like this when i was a kid. Kids are encouraged to bring in ideas and together we can flesh them out. It could an idea about politicians taking helicopter rides to parties for example. Obviously Im going to have to be careful with keeping the content suitable. Every few weeks or so we can have a little soiree with parents and friends etc.  It would just be so great to see a seed like that grow. It would be so great to empower teens to  do that sort of thing. Watch this space :)

getting over the fear hurdle

Last night I was in a restaurant and a local guest came up to our table and showed my daughter a magic trick. It was really some random person. Honestly who does that? Which one of us would think “ I know. Im just going  to walk up to that table of strangers, interrupt their conversation and show them a really crappy trick. It really was a bad trick.

 Then I showed my daughter an equally bad  magic trick and dared her to go back up to the man and do the trick for him. My daughter loved the trick  I could see that she really wanted to show the man  but fear was holding her back.  I am terrified of magic. I've had to do it a few time in shows and what not. I always think “no one’s going to believe this. Of course it’s a latex bottle that squashes down. I could understand why my daughter was scared to do the trick. After much cajoling she did it. She went back up to him and showed him the coin trick. Of course he pretended to be bewildered. Afterwards I could see the relief on her face. She said “wo. that was scary”


Scary yes but exhilarating too. I think those little  moments can be really big in life. Getting over that fear barrier can be a really big step. I remember being about 8 years old and there was a taking turns singing game in class.  It was my turn. the class sang to me and it was my turn to sing solo. I was paralysed with fear. I couldn't sing and I missed my go. I kicked myself all week. We played the same game in class  a week later and when it was my turn I summoned the courage from somewhere and sang. It really was a pivotal moment for me. Possibly life changing. What a relief. You couldn't shut me up after that 


My daughter said to me yesterday, there are so many activities out there, isn’t it strange that we choose do an activity like singing or dance or drama…. I guess it is but we are always going to do something. In another sense, why not. If you were a kid again what activity would you choose?


It secretly amazes me when we form a circle at the start of an Extraordinary Kids session and I look around the hall and see 35 kids who choose to come week after week. They must be getting something out of it. I’m always taken over by a tremendous sense of gratitude. I think “ this couldn’t happen without you and you and you….”  Its also a little bit like a snow ball the more kids the better the atmosphere. There seems to be a sort of critical mass to make the classes really great. I see that as around 12 - 16 kids. Thats why we cap the classes at 16. When we first started  if the classes were too small we would  sometimes combine them. 


In the drama skits i make sure the kids get an equal go.  But lately I have been putting kids in the background of scenes as extras. so they get to shine in a scene and be an extra in another. I have started, where ever i can to put every kid in the group into the scene. its a really fun challenge. we may have a busy office skit. easy have 12 busy workers that all at some stage say “hi boss”

If there’s a pirate scene put the whole group on the boat.  A monks retreat - have a bunch of meditators. Its amazing how bodies can create scenery. a human set! But its also so uplifting to see how willing kids are to be part of the set and how much they will volunteer great ideas. There are also such valuable stage craft lessons to be learned here. 


I said to this kid who as an office worker in the background chose to get herself electrocuted to stop up staging. I said “Sally your up staging “ she came further downstage and kept convulsing in the most distracting manner possible. “ Sally you’re upstaging still. she came even further forward until she was standing infont to the kid delivering the punchline still convulsing. at that point it struck me and i was doubled over laughing. and when i finally gathered myself i had to explain that upstaging means to draw unwanted attention to your self in a scene and it doesn't mean that you are standing too far upstage. 


I had assumed she knew what upstaging meant . Why should she automatically know that ? and isn't it reasonable that in an office you would get electrocuted? She was having fun. And as i asked in my last blog entry are ever really conscious  of what we learn….

Stanislavski and Snakes

Stanislavski and Snakes .


The story goes the  great acting teacher Stanislavsky had an exercise that he would do with his students that was a great way to decipher a student’’s aptitude for acting. He would place a jumper on a chair and the student would walk up to the chair pick up the jumper. Under the jumper is a snake! The  exercise only takes a couple of seconds but in Stanislavski's opinion you could tell in those few moments whether a pupil possessed the ability to be spontaneous and therefore could act. 


I do this exercise at Ek. Not to test kids aptitude for acting but because it's absolutely hilarious. Every kid who walks up to the chair takes off the jumper and then sees ( or doesn't see ) the snake cracks me up. Not just me the whole room packs up.  It reminds me of a game I used to love to play at dinner parties or where ever. A fake laugh competition. It sounds ridiculous i know but you sit with a small group and you take it in turns seeing who can do the most convincing fake laugh. When all eyes are on you it can be really hard to remember what  a genuine unselfconscious laugh is. The more  sincere attempt the funnier it is. 


The snake exercise is really hard because you also have to have no prior knowledge of the snake.  Walking up to a jumper knowing you are supposed to pretend to find a snake under it, that’s hard enough. To make that natural, to walk as if you have no prior knowledge of the snake. Then to genuinely sell that horrendous paralysing jolt of electricity that is the shock of seeing the snake is a tall order and utterly fascinating to watch.

I never get tired of it. 


There's an old film, Pretty Woman. It was the film that made Julia Roberts a big star. I remember when it came out I was studying acting and one of my mentors used to talk about a moment in the film when she opens a box and there's a surprise inside. In his opinion you could see her ability in that 2 seconds of the film.


 I did a commercial for Nintendo and they wouldn't show us the new product until we were in front of the rolling camera. They wanted to catch that genuine surprise and delight. I remember auditioning for  well known Australian comedian for a comic act he had written and he said right walk along acting cool trip over a bit and then recover all the while trying to keep your dignity. That was the whole audition.  



It’s amazing to me sometimes when you remember an actor in a film in a tiny role like Michael  J Fox in an American President. That tiny role was the catalyst for the whole series “Spin City”. Sometimes you'll say “that girl is so good in that commercial” and you are talking about a 10 second performance.  That’s why ( and I know I always bang on about this) Kids concerts needn’t be long.