I have selected poems for this unit that I feel are dramatic. I am using the term “dramatic poetry” in a very broad sense. As a drama teacher and a working actress my goal is to develop a unit rising poetry as an approach to acting. As an actor, you always try to ask yourself questions from the standpoint of the character, “where and who am I?” and “what do I want.” Dramatic poetry is usually thought of as involving a speaker or a character addressing a specific audience. the poet has a thought of what he/she wants expressed, then puts it into words. The actor has the words but has to find the sense, the feelings, the physical life. There is rhythm to a poem just as there is rhythm to a script. Students will be exploring the sense of the poems, the rhythm, and the behavior of the characters involved. the students will examine the poems from the standpoint of the character, thus they will have to make their own choice in response to the questions, “who am I” and “what do I want”.
I would like students to be able to express themselves through poetry as well as understand and enjoy poetry. I feel that most students view poetry as something they would rather not work with. I believe that by having students act out poems it will benefit not only students understanding of poetry but also indirectly, their understanding of drama. I would start with some “theatre games” as warm tip. (I must point out that though they are called games, they are not just a pastime, these games help form a working relationship with the actor). The idea of “theatre games” is an important part of developing an acting group with young people. I teach 7th and 8th graders and I feel that these “games” provide the students with the sense of belonging you need in a theatre group. Since my students will be acting out poems the use of “theatre games” for the warm ups give the students the same benefit of being united within the group they will be performing with. This is very important because in order for the students to express themselves they must feel relaxed.
One of the games we use in class is called “the Sculpture”. In this game a student stands in the middle and all the others get to mold him/her. The other students can not hurt or do anything to the one in the middle they wouldn’t want done to them. The other students can move the one the middle only once. After we have gone around a couple of times we introduce a variation to the game. When I say “freeze” whoever is “molding” at that moment becomes part of the sculpture as well. As more and more students become part of this sculpture several changes take place. One thing that happens is that students begin to feel comfortable with each other because they are molding and being molded, this continues until all students are in the sculpture.
Another warm tip is called “Zen in the Book”. The object is for the student to walk to the end of the room and pick up a book on the floor with their eyes closed. The student must first focus on the book, then picture the book in their mind, they must also be completely concentrated. Each student stands a few feet away from the book, closes their eyes and tries to tap the book or get as close to the book as they can. The main object is concentration and focus. There are other games I use with my students but these gives an indication of how they work.
I would like to begin our class work on poetry by having students read various poems aloud. (I will have selected poems in advance). The first thing I would like my students to be able to do is understand what they are reading. I want them to have a sense of the poem. I believe this is very important, for without a true sense and understanding all else is lost. The next step is to examine the texture of the poem, its rhythm, punctuation and flow. I would do this with several poems until each students has chosen a poem. They will memorize the poem, rehearse and perform it with costumes, props and music.
Complete understanding of a poem can never be obtained ; all we can hope for is relative understanding. Just as beauty is in the “eye” of the beholder, poetry is in the “eye,, of the reader and the “ear” of the listener.One example of a poem that can be acted out is “Annabel Lee”, by Edgar Allen Poe.Annabel Lee is a poem which could be described as a monologue in a script. We would start by breaking the poem into sections.