March 4, 2024

Two Planks and a Passion

Join Kevin Dowsett, Artistic Director of Theatretrain, in celebrating the launch of his latest book. Tailored for educators and creatives, it provides 60 essential skills for crafting exceptional performances in the 21st century. From fostering group cohesion to honing theatrical prowess and nurturing life skills, discover the essence of Two Planks and a Passion.

Today is the launch of my new book. The last one was aimed at teenagers who wanted to know the mindset of the performer, this one is aimed at teachers and creatives who want to create outstanding work.

As I see it the creatives bring themselves – their life experience and their training in theatre. What I have set out to do is to give them another 60 skills they can gradually add to the mix that make the work fit the 21st century and make their students zing on stage.

There are three groups of skills. Firstly, how do you build a high-functioning group of any age that will bond and have the best time in what they do? How do you develop listening and focus? How do you release energy and aliveness?

Scientists have discovered that when you act out a feeling – and it could be joy or sadness, fear or excitement – you open up those same pathways in the brain as if it were happening. And the same is true for the audience who experience these feelings just by watching. The more pathways are built in the brain the more integrated and understanding we become as people. And that is why I think the arts are so important in our lives. They enable us to experience life at one stage away and help us make sense of what we see in real-time.

So, this book is a bit of a car manual for a creative. You lift the bonnet of a group and see where you think you could grow the group and give them more skills, then the book suggests a whole range of examples for all three disciplines – acting, dancing and singing.

Why Two Planks and a Passion? In the Middle Ages, performers travelled from town to town and set up their stage in the square or village green. Apparently, they then often visited the pub to find out the names of the mayor and the policeman so they could work them into their stories.

The planks of their stage once set up enabled them to give their passion – whether it was comedy or tragedy. The planks here are the skills of the group and the theatre skills all glued together with life skills!

Finally, I hope you’ll allow me a plug for the book itself as this is where you can find it. Two Planks and a Passion by Kevin Dowsett | Amazon

Credit: Layout and Illustration by Chris Crediton

Theatretrain, a nationwide provider of weekend theatre schools for young people aged 4-18, specialises in weekly classes in acting, singing, and dancing. An emphasis is placed on learning valuable life skills such as confidence, empathy, courage, and resilience. If you know a child who loves to dance, act and sing or could do with a little confidence boost why not visit to find out what our performing arts classes can offer your child at one of our 80 locations across the UK.

Related Articles

West End or Broadway?

Step into the world of theatre with Theatretrain Artistic Director, Kevin Dowsett, as he explores the age-old debate: West End or Broadway? From the rich history of London's 241 theatres to the allure of New York's Broadway, join the discussion on the global capitals of theatre and the challenges facing accessibility today.
Read more >

Coming out of your Shell

Embark on a journey of self-discovery with Theatretrain Artistic Director, Kevin Dowsett, as he delves into the transformative power of overcoming shyness. From personal anecdotes to empowering insights, explore how embracing vulnerability can lead to newfound confidence and empathy. Join us as we celebrate the journey from timid to triumphant!
Read more >

The Best I‘ve Seen

Join Kevin Dowsett as he delves into the captivating world of performers. From the timeless melodies of Paul McCartney to the effortless resonance of Frank Sinatra, and the profound humanity of Sir Derek Jacobi, each embodies a rare blend of talent and authenticity that transcends mere performance.
Read more >

It’s Not What I thought it Would be

In a recent article, reality TV star Gemma Collins recounted a formative experience at age 12, traveling with Theatretrain to the Czech Republic. While she saw it as a holiday, her former teacher reflects on the deeper significance of such trips, urging readers to embrace cultural differences for personal growth.
Read more >

Time for Change

In a world where education often feels stagnant, Kevin Dowsett, Artistic Director of Theatretrain, heralds a much-needed shift. As he submits his book to the House of Lords, he advocates for a seismic change in secondary education. From embracing creativity to fostering partnerships with theatres, Kevin champions a dynamic approach.
Read more >

The Joy of Reading

Dive into the enchanting world of storytelling with Kevin Dowsett, Artistic Director of Theatretrain. Join us on a journey where literature meets creativity, exploring the profound impact of reading on young minds. Discover Kevin's insights on fostering a love for learning and empathy through the magic of theatre and literature.
Read more >