Cheryl E. Merritt
How’s it going?
Tell me about the piece.
What part do you like best?
Ask questions about any part that is not clear.
Why did you choose this problem?
What did you learn from this piece of writing?
How does this draft sound when you read it out loud?
What do you think you can do to make the piece better?
What problems are you having?
What is the most important thing you are trying to say?
Tell the writers what you specifically like about the piece?
Is all your information important to the audience?
Are there parts you don’t need?
How can I help you more?
NOTE: The teacher should give each student the chance to participate in the discussion. Direct questions or solicit comments from those students who may be-reluctant to talk.
One major advantage of being teacher/director, the teacher can help students maintain consistency in the behavior of the characters. The teacher/director will also supply material not provided specifically in the text to help the actors envision their immediate objectives in the play.
After students are well into the writing process, I plan to use
RAISIN IN THE SUN
by Lorrain Hansberry to demonstrate various aspects of pulling an actual production together. As an introduction students would be assigned roles and read Act I in class. After a brief discussion of the characters and their objectives students would watch the production in its entirety on video. (This would save time.)
In this drama a black family that has struggled to get out of the slums for a generation, finally after the death of the father, they see the money from the life insurance as their first real chance. The conflict occurs when everyone has different ideas about how to use the money. Lena (Mama) wants to buy a home in a better neighborhood. Banetha, her oldest daughter, wants to go to medical school. Her son Walter, who lives with Mama, has a wife, a son, and an unexpected baby on the way, wants to invest in a liquor store with some friends. Walter feels that his mother won’t let him assume his position as the head of the family.
Three or four scenes will be selected and blocked out by the teacher/director and student groups. Students will remain in groups they are already assigned to.
Teachers may choose other works if they seem more suited for their population of students. i.e.,
about a Puerto Rican family that migrates to America and must overcome several obstacles. Spanish students may be able to relate easily to this drama.
Advanced students may enjoy the musical
WEST SIDE STORY
. A drama about rival gangs. The conflict become more and more intense when the leader of one gang’s sister falls in love with another gang member. Students may recognize that this is an updated version of Shakespeare’s
ROMEO AND JULIET
Each class period can begin with some type of warm-up activity. They will take approximately five to ten minutes. These activities should cover skills such as improvisation, individualization, stimulation of the imagination, and images.
If possible take students to a preschool to observe young children at play. Students will bring paper and pencils to record what type of drama they see going on, in the doll corner, the block corner, etc. From their observation they will learn that improvisation provides a practical means of exploring reality, coordinate skills, and investigate.
*A VIDEO OF CHILDREN AT PLAY CAN ALSO BE AFFECTIVE.
Divide the class into two groups. Give each group a problem situation. Allow five minutes to discuss and plan. Then each group will give their spontaneous interpretation in the form of a drama.
You have just received a letter requesting that you board a space vehicle that will take you to a newly discovered planet. You must go there and build a whole new community.
After setting up a community, there is a public meeting called in order to protest against pollution of the only river on the entire planet. Students must appraise the problem and discuss the arguments for or against the various solutions suggested.
STIMULATING THE IMAGINATION
Various stimuli can be used to increase concentration and extend the imagination.
Several students will be asked to use their imaginations. Students who volunteer will participate first. The student will be given an index card with a real situation on it. Using their own imagination the student will act out the situation and the class must guess what they are doing.
EXAMPLES: You just got a new football.
You tried marijuana for the first time.
You are playing with a gun, it went off and the bullet hit Mom.
A lady whose purse was just snatched by a drug addict.
Using small groups of students scenes will be devised in which all the characters except one are: deaf, unable to speak, can’t taste, or blind. Or imagine you are in a world in which everyone is very small, tall, alcoholic, or from another time period and drugs are legal.
One student will touch one other student of a group sitting in a circle. They may only touch the edge of their foot. Then begin movements. The person touched will respond in harmony, rising, falling, spreading out, moving around the space at different rates. One follows the movements of the other until the teacher says, “change”’ and the person touched will touch someone new. They could also begin with occupational movements like shaving, make up, brushing your teeth, washing your face, or dressing for a date.
1. DO NOT RUSH.
2. ASK QUESTIONS WHEN RELATIONSHIPS BECOME FUZZY AND DETAILS ARE LOST.
3. INDIVIDUALS WHO ACT, AGREE, AND SHARE TOGETHER.
4. IT IS THE ENERGY RELEASED THAT FORMS THE SCENE.
5. BE FLEXIBLE.
6. ACT DON’T REACT.
1. DON’T RUSH.
2. WHEN NECESSARY, QUIETLY COACH.
3. SHOW STUDENTS, DON’T TELL. THIS MEANS DIRECT CONTACT AND INDIRECT COMMUNICATION.
4. IT IS NOT UNUSUAL TO MAKE ADDITIONS AS THE WORK PROGRESSES.
5. BE CERTAIN THAT NO ONE IS BLOCKED OFF.
6. IF STUDENTS BECOME RESTLESS AND STATIC, END IMMEDIATELY AND USE SOME WARM UP EXERCISES OR GAMES.
7. BECOME FAMILIAR WITH GAME BOOKS.
8. OBSERVE THE AUDIENCE REACTION FOR INTEREST LEVELS AND RESTLESSNESS.