Here are some tips and additional ideas for Adults and Leaders working with The Imagination in Action Series! Also be sure to check the Youth Pages for even MORE resources!
Lesson Plans and Links to Help You!
Many of these sites feature Warm ups and other activities as well as lesson plans!
Theatre Lesson Plans and Resources ( EXCELLENT RESOURCE): http://www.theatrelinks.com/lessons.htm
A Guide to Reader’s Theater: http://www.theaterseatstore.com/readers-theater/
Theatre Arts Lesson Plans: http://www.stemnet.nf.ca/~mcoady/dramless.htm
Drama and Theatre Lesson Plans: http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/lesson_plans/arts/drama/
National Standards for Theatre Education Lesson Plans: http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/lesson_plans/arts/drama/
Reader’s Theatre Lesson Plans: http://www.proteacher.com/070173.shtml
Advanced Production Ideas - A Theater Lesson Plan: http://www.teachersdesk.com/lessons/theater_drama/Theatre%20Lesson%20Plans%20-%20Dr_%20Len%20Radin.htm
Arts Theatre Lessons: http://www.edhelper.com/cat23.htm
Drama Lessons: http://www.edhelper.com/cat35.htm
Theatre: Dramatic Arts Lessons : http://www.lessonplans4teachers.com/drama.php
Theatre and Stagecraft Lesson Plans: http://members.aol.com/MrDonnLessons/2LessonPlans.html
Seeing and Hearing Theatre: http://artswork.asu.edu/arts/teachers/standards/theatre.htm
The World of Puppets: http://www.itdc.sbcss.k12.ca.us/curriculum/puppetry.html
Puppetry and Shadow Plays: http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/middle/puppets.htm
Puppets Unit Plan: http://english.unitecnology.ac.nz/resources/units/puppets/home.html
Stagecraft and Technical Theatre:
Technical Theatre Lesson Plans: http://www.hstech.org/teachers/lessons/lesson_plans.htm
Enter Ophelia: Stage Directions, Promptbooks, and Film: http://www.folger.edu/education/lesson.cfm?lessonid=77
Basic Lighting: http://www.byu.edu/tma/arts-ed/9-12/c3-aa/b&w.htm
Children's Creative Theatre: http://library.thinkquest.org/5291/
Child Drama: http://www.childdrama.com/
Creative Drama and Theatre Education Resource Site: http://www.creativedrama.com/
Children's Theatre: http://www.proteacher.com/cgi-bin/outsidesite.cgi?external=http://faculty-web.at.nwu.edu/theater/tya/&original=http://www.proteacher.com/080010.shtml&title=Children's%20Theatre%20Resource%20Webpage
Onstage and Behind the Scenes: http://www.childrensmuseum.org/theatre/index.htm
Performing Hearts: http://www.performinghearts.com/
The Sound Effects Library: http://www.sound-effects-library.com/links/link_history.html
What is Theatre? Stage Door Theatrical Company: http://www.stagedoor.org/forkids/kids1.htm
Resource for Plays: http://www.singlelane.com/proplay/childrensplays.html
Center for Puppetry Arts: http://www.puppet.org/index.shtml
Acting Workshop on Line: http://www.redbirdstudio.com/AWOL/acting2.html
How Theatre Happens: http://www.danillitphil.com/how.html
Clown Ministry: http://www.clown-ministry.com/
Rancho Capistrano Wranglers 4-H Clown Troupe: http://www.angelfire.com/biz/ButterscotchGraphics/Butterscotch4H.html
Actors spend a great deal of time developing their voice production since the voice is a primary tool of their craft. For this theatre arts series, youth should be exposed to this area so that they have a fuller appreciation of the vocal work that actors do .For this reason, Play the Role includes Activity 5 , Ssssounds Great!
Cheer break-through changes in sound production as an exciting event. Your enthusiasm for progress will help more than any honest comment on someone's vocal weaknesses. If you notice a drop in voice energy when they talk, have them switch back and forth between buzzing and speaking several times during a single recitation, all the while encouraging them to keep the air flow the same.
Sound is a vibration that rides on air. Tension reduces breath. If youth are having trouble making the motor sound, it's usually because of muscle tension in the face. Ask them to press a forefinger into the cheeks right over the molars as they try it again.
popcorn, whole grain snacks). Eating well provides the fuel to support the Imagination in Action!
Action Games and Songs
Pantomime is integrated into many dramatic activities;it highlights the narration of stories and enhances children's games and song s. In action games, pantomimic cues are added to the game's physical activities. For instance, in Simon Sez, rather than just the standard cue, “Simon Sez stretch up in the air, , the cue is “Simon Sez be the man on the flying trape”. In action songs, players pantomime actions that correspond to the words of songs. For instance, baseball fans' actions would accompany “Take Me Out to the Ball game”.
Story play involves line-by-line pantomimic cues to develop a story line. The leader's side coaching builds up sequentially to create a story similar to the following: “You put on your boots. Open the door and feel the icy wind across your face Walk through the deep snow. You build a snowman” This type of side coaching is appropriate to the group that needs additional guidance, but at no point should the sidecar become directive.
As a Group Activity Helper, you would be advised to include story dramatization into your group leadership approaches. Story dramatization is the improvised interpretation of a literary work, and it gives life to characters that were once words on a page. Stories become memorable because the players live them instead of just reading about them. To be suitable for dramatization, the literary piece should have several important elements: an interesting idea, a conflict, essential action, realistic characters and stimulating dialogue.
The literary choices for story dramatization are endless and each suggests multiple choices for improvising characters, scenes, conflicts and settings. If a story is written in the past tense, put it into the present tense. (e.g., “Alyssia walked down the winding streets”, can be changed to “Alyssia walks down the winding street”. Portions of songs, poems, stories, letters and essays can be linked together to dramatize a theme such as adventure or love. Before beginning with a story dramatization, make sure that the group has an interest in the story. Depending on their ages and abilities, the participants can have the story read to them or can read it themselves. If you read the story aloud, be sure to show enthusiasm; your voice and facial expression should demonstrate that energy. Delete passages which make the story less immediate. You can add to the impact of the story by adding pictures, props, and music.
For instance, stories for young children should have repetition of action (such as “The Three Little Pigs”) so that the children are not overwhelmed by stimuli they can't assimilate. Through repetition, youth come to associate certain expressions with certain characters and come to act them out with increasing confidence. Youth can form a group to represent a single character; they can respond with collective sound and gesture to the mention of their character's name in the story. Preview playing allows you to observe youth's level of understanding of the story. By the way they respond to cues will reveal their knowledge of vocabulary and the story line.
Based on the response of youth to the story, decide with them whether you will dramatize parts or all of the story.For instance, youth may want to dramatize only the action scenes and omit dialogue sequences. It is also possible for you to give a brief synopsis of the piece without covering it in its entirety.
For younger children, story dramatization often consists of narrative pantomime, which involves pantomiming the actions suggested by the story. You can also add additional narrative details of action
as well as sensory stimuli in order to create more opportunities for youth to be actively involved in the dramatization. Following is an example: (italics indicate where pantomimic cues have been added):
While John stayed home happily making dinner, Suzie did the gardening which she loved so much. As the blistering sun beat down, she slid her hoe over the ground. Bending down, she took a piece of soil from the rocky ground, and let it run through her fingers”. The narrative details of action (hoeing, taking piece of soil, letting soil run through her fingers) give youth specific actions to do, while the sensory details (blistering heat, rocky ground) create a stronger reality. The story becomes much more real to them.
In narrative pantomime, unison playing allows all participants to become whatever character(s) they please.
In individual, paired and group playing, each individual can choose to play one character consistently throughout the story or try on different roles as they appear.
Older youth will not respond to narrative pantomime, but will be interested in dramatizing only certain aspects of a story. They may wish to work together through dialogue sequences of the story and ultimately
link them together. They may read up to only a certain portion of the story and then devise their own improvised endings. They may write their own stories and adapt them to dramatization. Or they may be more interested in dramatizing what happened before or after the story's plot. Props, setting, and costumes, may be added to reinforce the characterizations. New characters can be created based on youth's responses to various character warm-ups.
Youth who are not interested in acting can be invited to participate by creating sound effects. For instance,
they may welcome the arrival of the king through the ringing of cymbals.
The radio play is a form of improvisation in which the players express dramatic action, through speech, sound effects, and music. Youth can create their own script, use a published radio play, or adapt short stories or plays to the radio-play format. A set script need not be established on paper; it is acceptable to have the basic outline of a plot around which the dialogue and narration can be improvised. Since the who, what, and where of the radio play can only be expressed orally, the situation should be one that is easily visualized.
In radio play production, voices, sound effects and music are recorded on a tape recorder. The ideal taping site is a studio or small room without windows, with walls and floors carpeted; however, for the informal recreation setting, a tape recorder is sufficient. Players should be huddled around the microphone with no rustling of scripts to disturb the taping. If your recorder has two microphones, one should be used for actors
and the other for sound effects. If you have two recorders, one recorder can be used to tape additional sounds and group voices to create a more realistic background. In the final tape, background sounds will set the scene and gradually dim as the actors speak.
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects of radio play production is the improvisation of sound effects. See The Ssssounds Abound – Creating Sound Effects Activity 9 in Set the Stage,(p.22) which provides sound effects information helpful to radio play production.
The Actor's Notes in Activity 12, Tableaux, Stage Pictures refer to drama therapy. Drama therapy is a field in which drama therapists study to use drama and theatre in working with individuals with physical, emotional, psychological and mental needs. If you are interested in becoming a Registered Drama Therapist to work with special needs youth, you can contact the National Association for Drama Therapy for training information, http: www. nadt .org . Drama therapy includes a wide variety of approaches, including, for example, creative movement, role playing, puppetry, and acting. Drama therapy does not assure the cure of a problem. However, it is capable of relieving anxieties, promoting rehabilitation, and reducing conflicts.
It should be noted that the fact that drama is often therapeutic on many levels is not the same as drama therapy. As Group Activity Helper, you will often find that drama has resulted in therapeutic benefits to the participants (e.g., stronger self-esteem, elimination of bullying,etc.). However ,it is important to note that there is distinction between drama therapy and drama that is therapeutic. Drama therapy is intentional and requires professional training.
As a Group Activity Helper , you are encouraged to approach drama leadership with a sensitivity to the therapeutic potential of drama. For instance, A child's wheelchair can be decorated to become a car, airplane, magic carpet, leading the child into worlds of dramatic play
Each youth creates a family tableaux which represents family dynamics and interrelationships. Youth role play job interviews in which they reverse roles so as to experience how an employer might perceive them Sociodrama is a particularly effective approach with middle and high school level students. Sociodrama is role playing dealing with group social problems and decision making. The key steps in sociodrama are:
Discuss the problem (e.g. parent/child relationships)
Identify roles (e.g., youth, parents)
Role play (e.g., dramatize the source of the conflict; debate over whether youth should take a job)
Discuss the role playing– here you do not analyze the acting, you discuss the content of the role play (e.g., level of communication, character relationships)
Explore alternative interpretations – audience discusses other possible endings to the parent/child discussion
Role play the alternatives suggested during the discussion –scenes can be played by the same players or by
other group members, follow with discussion
The Play the Role! text is composed of activities which involve informal creative dramatics activities, not theatre performance. At the beginning of this Advice to the Helper section, you noted the distinction between creative drama and theatre. In keeping with the philosophy that creative drama is designed for process and not product, at no point should a group be required to perform before others. The desire to perform before a group should come from the youth themselves. It is natural that working with Play the Role! Activities should lead to a desire on the part of many youth, to perform, to do theatre. This is to be encouraged. Some youth may want to perform their improvisations and some the plays they have written Others may be interested in performing a scripted play they have chosen, or adapting a story into play form. The following are tips to assist you in selecting a play or story.
Your librarian can help you locate play catalogues and the names of publishing houses with scripts appropriate for young performers and young audiences. Publishers include Anchorage Press, Dramatics, Dramatist, Samuel French, New Plays and others. Here are some criteria to help you in your selection:
The play should have:
• Ideas worth expressing
• Characters that are complex, believable and worth representing
• Dialogue that is interesting and contributes to the action
• Suitable cast size
• Audience appeal
• Potential for interesting and “do-able” technical elements
The play should be:
•Suitable for performance with little revision
•Appropriate for the varied interests, abilities and maturity levels of the cast, production staff and audience
•Capable of production within budget, time and facility limitations.
Manage the Rehearsal
Once you've selected a play, you'll be challenged to manage rehearsals efficiently. While each director selects the best sequence of rehearsal activities to meet the needs of the group, the following might be helpful:
1. Read-through of the entire play with the whole cast in attendance. Time to make announcements about rules and expectations, and answer questions about the play and rehearsal schedule.
The read-through (which may be done several times) allows the cast to become familiar with the plot or story line, the characters and their relationships with each other, and the theme or basic idea the playwright is trying to communicate.
2. Individual and ensemble work and conferences. Time to unite the cast as a group. Use Imagination in Action activities at this stage to develop and improve various performance skills. You also may want to schedule conferences with each actor to discuss character, motivation and line interpretation.
Staging. Time to make the cast familiar with the ground plan for the set and the properties or
costumes which will affect the movement of the actors around the stage. Time when general movement pattern for the actors is decided. With young performers, this should be a joint decision process in which you invite the actors' ideas and experimentation.
It is important to remember to only work on blocking during staging rehearsals. Don't focus on
or coach character interpretations, line readings or tempo at this time. It can be very confusing and frustrating to actors who are just trying to decide where to move when.
4. Characterization and line memorization. Time for you and the actors to explore the many possibilities for character interpretation and line readings. Only at the end of this period, after many choices about character and interpretation have been made, are lines learned and actors are “off book” (without their scripts). This can be done scene by scene or act by act. Use Imagination in Action activities throughout this period.
5. Character interaction. Time that the play is “put together.” The actors must truly begin to interact with each other and express themselves so that the meaning of the play is clear. Generally, these rehearsals are full act or full play run-throughs. Use Imagination in Action activities throughout this period.
6. Tempo and polish rehearsals. Time for full run-through rehearsals to fix problem areas and set the correct pace for the play. These rehearsals are usually run without stopping. Use Imagination in Action activities throughout this period.
Dress and technical rehearsals. For technical rehearsals, the play is merely walked-through cue by
cue to finalize all light, sound, prop and scene change cues. For dress rehearsals, the play is performed as if for an audience, with costumes and, if necessary, make-up.
You will find that many of terms in Tech Notes in Play the Role!, Become A Puppeteer and Set the Stage refer to performance. (e.g., stage directions, stage left, stage right) will be helpful to you in directing theatre. The My Place in the Theatre activity on page 32--33 in this Helper's guide also provides valuable resource information . Refer to stage geography terms for blocking stage movement .
In directing scenes, how you position actors on stage (blocking) is significant in creating the emotional impact on the audience . Following are blocking terms to assist you in directing:
Downstage left – position for scenes with tension
Downstage center – position for key parts of the scene
Downstage right – position suitable for direct narration
Upstage center – actors project authority and dignity in this stage position
Upstage right – position suggests intrigue, secrecy
The following terms refer to stage movement:
Cross – move to another actor
Cross above – move upstage of actor
Cross downstage – move downstage of actor
Dress the stage – keep stage picture in balance (Stage picture refers to how the actors create a visual picture on stage. The stage groupings should tell a story, actors being arranged in ascending levels and triangular groupings that suggest the most prominent character at any one time. The characters also need to be balanced in relationship to the props and scenery on stage).
Focus – look at another actor
Full position – face out
Give the stage – give space to another actor
Open up – turn to audience
Profile position – turn completely sideways
Stage business – character's gestures and use of props
Take the stage – move into a more desirable position
3/ 4 position – turn nearly full back so that side of head and shoulder are toward audience
Turn out – turn sideways, giving only part of full front to audience
Upstage – stand in front of another actor
Interesting Actor's Notes – “Upstage” and “downstage” are terms that came from the Italian Renaissance around 1500 AD. Back then, stages were raked. That means that t hat the back of the stage was much higher than the front and slanted down towards the audience. Audience members were seated on a flat floor and raking the stage helped them to see the actors better. “Upstage” referred to up to the top of the stage; “downstage”meant to walk down the stage toward the audience.
When performing for youth audiences, it is recommended that you create opportunities for them to participate in the play. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. Perhaps you ask a question directly of the audience (e.g. Do you think we should return to the camp or keep traveling down this road?”). Or they can be asked to help create sound effects (e.g., “The wind is blowing through the trees. Can you help make the wind by blowing as hard as you can?”). They can be asked to cheer the hero or heroine, perhaps with signs signaling applause or cheers. They can be led in actions similar to those of the actors (e.g. digging a hole in the sand, folding clothes into a knapsack).
Deal with Post-Show Syndrome
There are many post-performance traditions that have arisen because of a genuine necessity for closure, a time to process the experience. You can help youth relax after a show and put the experience into perspective. Thinking, talking and recapping the performance is enjoyable and will help temper high emotions.
Basic Elements of Theatre
As you work with youth in drama and theatre, keep in mind the basic elements of theatre:
Basic roles of audience and actor
Conflict, the essence of drama
An antagonist (the villain of the story)
A protagonist ( the hero of the story)
Rising and falling action as the scene progresses
A group experience within the audience
A live experience that is transitory (it will never happen exactly this way again)
Personal involvement of the audience as they find themselves hoping one or the other wins.
Page Created by: Cheryl Varnadoe, Extension 4-H Specialist, Georgia 4-H