Much of the work will be done in groups to allow the students to brainstorm their ideas. For time management, the class periods will be divided in half. For the first two weeks, the first half of the class period will be dedicated to researching the country of choice, and immigration procedures pertaining to the year of choice. The second half of the class period will be dedicated to basic acting skills and character development.
For the first three days of class, pose to the students the following question: If you could have been born anywhere besides America, in any year, and be any type of person, besides yourself, where, when, and who would you be? Have the students write their ideas in as much detail as possible. Give them free reign to be as imaginative, or as obvious as they wish to be as long as they are detailed and specific. Each student will read their ideas aloud and should be permitted to share physical character examples of the character. On the fourth day, the students will be asked to choose one of the three characters they may want to be as a basis of their character work. For example, suppose the student ultimately chooses intergalactic space traveler, Andromeda, 1983. Their initial description of that character might read as follows:
I am an intergalactic space traveler. I soar through the universes in a V shaped, multi-colored light, slow craft. It travels beyond human comprehension through the galaxies until it reaches the earth's orbit than it kicks into slow gear. I observe human beings and study the way they act and react to each other and their ever-changing environment. My species does not age. I receive nourishment from mineral rocks that grow in the black holes in space, but my favorite snack food is cheese from the earth's moon.
Library access will now be set up for the students to begin researching information on their chosen birthplace, but this does not have to be their only means. If they know someone originally from their chosen birthplace, the student might want to set up interviews with them. Poems and short stories are also encouraged as accessible information. A basic questionnaire outline will be given as a guideline, but they will be expected to access as much information as possible. At the completion of their research, the students will be given a character analysis worksheet. (1) This worksheet will be used in two ways. First, the student must answer the questions based upon their own selves giving them a greater understanding of their own characteristics. Second, the student must answer the questions based upon their unit character. Answering these questions from two points of view allows them to make clear and concise choices for the characters further development throughout the unit.
At this point the students will begin to write a three- part essay. Essay writing will be encouraged throughout the unit, and all work will be kept in individual folders for the students to reference and to guide their progress.
Using the same intergalactic space traveler as an example, the character may now be perceived in a more extensive manner, and the description might possibly now be elaborated upon as follows:
My name is Io (4). I am an Intergalactic Space Traveler. That is my job. I am named after one of the 16 satellites that orbit Jupiter. I come from a galaxy called Andromeda. It is 2.2 million light years from earth. The exact name of my birth-place is Brightonox in the land of Vindemiatrix. The atmosphere is cool and gelatin-like. The surface of the land is spongy, so instead of walking, we bounce. We have weather similar to earth. As earth is the third planet from its' sun, we are the third land from Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse is our closest star, and is three times the size of the sun. When Betelgeuse shines well upon us we call this span a geusey span. We get showers in our weather as well, only it is our ground that breaks open and stones pull upward and fly straight into the atmosphere. This doesn't happen too often. On Vindemiatrix, we communicate with a language called Monocerus, but we have a heightened communication ability that allows us to understand every known language in the universe. There are 300,000 Vindemiatrixian in our sector. We have no need for laws because we are unified peaceful beings. Our main source of nourishment comes from Betelgeuse. When we get the signal that we need to be nourished, which is when liquid flows from our visual receptors, we simply stand outside and face the gigantic star, and we become full. Our most frequent tradition is to visit the earth to celebrate our creators' greatest masterpiece: the human being. We visit earth at least once a month, their time. We celebrate by throwing glowing rocks through their sky. Wur arrivals are often very noisy and create electrical flashes throughout their firmament. To compensate for the commotion, we release multi-colored arches in their sky for their viewing pleasure.
With these sample essays I have combined basic facts with imagination to demonstrate the beginnings of how this unit will play out. The students may choose a character more common or more extraordinary. Keep in mind that this is a drama class, the possibilities are endless.