April 20, 2016

An Experiment of Wonder:
Children Playing Drama in Museum Settings

by Paul Lin

See the film of the Wondersaur project in China

And here’s a link for our Chinese audiences
http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTU0OTE5MzQyOA==.html

When and How My Story Began

Studying at University of Kent as an exchange student in 2015, I sent an email to Frances, looking for a voluntary chance at People United. I wished to explore how this brilliant art organization was different from those where I used to work in China. In the interview, Frances introduced me to Tom. When I was about to leave, they gave me a middle-sized lavender booklet named Arts & Kindness. At that point, my story with People United began.

Team photo

Tina (left), Tom, Paul (front), Sarah, Frances (right)
Farewell Moment on 20th June 2015

On the 20th June 2015, I stepped into the office as usual. After chatting with the team, I came to my desk, and prepared to do my work. Suddenly, I found something unusual — a gift card lying on the desk, on which were kind and warm words from all the team members. I was so surprised and happy, but I soon realised that it was time for me to leave. All good things must come to an end. However, Frances and Tom told me that my story with People United could continue through various ways in the days to come, although I will soon go back to China. I can still do something meaningful for People United. For example, writing blogs, doing interviews, or making films.

Paul's gifts 1  
Gifts from the Team  

Card

Sweet Words from the Team

Ten Year Anniversary and The Wondersaur Project

 2016 is the ten year anniversary of People United. The team is doing retrospection for all the artists commissions in the past   ten years. What interest them are those stories of artists/organizations in China who are working on some of the areas   covered by People United. This idea is just the motivation of designing the Wondersaur Project – expanding People United’s communications with China and at the same time connecting artists/organizations with the UK.

Wondersaur

The Wondersaur Project Designed By Paul Lin

To celebrate People United’s birthday, I’m planning to carry out the Wondersaur Project (a museum education project) with Nannan Archaeology in China, as a salute to the artist commission of Wonder. I was shocked when I was watching the Wonderstruck project, which was so moving and amazing. The three brilliant artists just so creatively combined music with museum. Inspired by the Wonderstruck, my project invited a group of children to play drama inside Yunnan Provincial Museum. The play was all about a mysterious dream that Nannan dreamed back to the Dinosaur Age.

Paul & the children

Children (Zenghao Yang, Jinming Liu, Yichen Que, Yu Rong, Zhaoyi Sun, Qixuan Feng, Chi Zhang),
Paul Lin, and Lijun Guo (Archaeology Consultant)

The place our children played drama was Yunnan Provincial Museum. There are so many ancient creatures and historical relics in this national first-class museum. They are the memories of that age. What we want to do is not only telling the Chinese younger generation what happened in the past, but also letting these memories spread out widely. We want the world to find, to feel, to explore them. Just like the question “It’s wonderful! I wonder what it is?”. To reach our commission, we are going to play drama with the children, in this special settings, about those memories, and using the language of the world – English.

I put drama into the setting of museum and use English as a medium, because I wish to experiment a new method of combining drama education with museum settings. I think that this can be an interpretation to the meaning of wonder from a different perspective.

museum

Yunnan Provincial Museum, Kunming, Yunnan, China

In the museum

Teaching drama inside Yunnan Provincial Museum (Paul Lin with Children);
Shooting Film (NgaiChing Wong)

The whole activity was designed heavily context-based, as no matter drama, museum setting, or language does things related to contexts. The reconstruction of the Dinosaur Age just catered to the nature of these three elements, helping children maximise their experiences. They were no longer learning things that are out of touch with their real life. This contributed to the formation of the sense of community, and also benefited to the popularization of various art forms and the acquisition of a foreign language.

It Was Challenging

Organizing this activity was very challenging, as the activity was extremely time-limited (only one day) and these ten-year old children in China were not quite familiar with the form of drama art. It was the first time for many of them to play drama in the public, especially playing English drama. Most of them just started to learn English two years ago. It was so hard for them to read the drama scripts.

Paul with the children

Paul Lin with Children

However, my purpose was not teaching them how to read certain vocabularies or asking them to perform a whole drama within one day. Instead, I wished to offer them a way to approach drama, museums, language, and the things that attract them. I hope that they can use these methods to explore the question ‘I wonder what it is?’.

Happy Birthday to People United!

From the moment that Frances and Tom gave me the booklet Arts and Kindness to the design of the Wondersaur Project, then to meeting children and playing drama with them in Yunnan Provincial Museum, I want to say thank you to everything amazing happened around me and everyone by my side who supported the Wondersaur Project. I wish Happy Birthday to People United.

Paul Lin