The aim of this unit is for students to be able to:
- Question a text's representation of a community by analyzing author's choice of literary techniques such as selection of detail, tone, character voice, etc.
- Craft interview questions.
- Produce theatrical writing from interviews with consideration ofwhile carefully considering what to include and what to omit to create adequate representation.
- Understand that the choices an artist makes are influenced by the larger social and political paradigms.
- Understand that representation is a political act that requires thoughtful choices and sensitivity toward one's subjects.
Pacing and Structure
The unit is designed to be taught in 4-5 weeks. During the first two weeks students will read excerpts from the anchor texts listed below and investigate ideas of community with a focus on close reading. Students will examine the texts representation of marginalized identities and engage with Marxist, feminist and critical race theories to inform their analysis. In week 3, students will become familiarized with the performance task. The teacher will guide students to think about which community they will use as a source text. Seminar discussions will lead students to generate interview questions and establishing a focus for the ethnography. In weeks 4 and 5, students will conduct interviews, write scripts and participate in peer review activities.
Laramie Project. Kauffman, Moises
The play is about the town of Laramie, its citizens and their reaction to the brutal murder of Mathew Sheppard who was profiled and then beaten to death because of his sexual orientation. The play was written based on interviews and diaries conducted and kept by members of the Tectonic Theater Company
Fires in the Mirror. Smith, Anna Deavere
The play is about the 1991 riots that took place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn following the death of a 7 year old Caribbean American boy who was hit by a car driven by a Jewish man and the stabbing of a Jewish student who was visiting from Australia. The production is based on interviews conducted with 26 different community members.
Both texts are useful for considering the way writers of documentary drama construct theatrical presentations of a community's experience. The texts are useful for exploring the ways individuals perceive themselves and their communities.