A Quick Drama Taster Lesson (Prior to That Dreaded Subject Selection Evening)

Convinced Meme

Each year Drama teachers the world over have to sell their subject to a bunch of kids (often from primary school) either to give them a taste of high school life or to genuinely get them to take their subject in an elective year.

It is an ongoing battle that I don’t think any of us can rest on our laurels about. I would describe it as a fairly big PR exercise that we have to undertake every year, particularly prior to subject selection evening in order to remind people that our subject exists and yep, it’s worthwhile doing it.

I was sharing what I have done a number of times with a colleague of mine today who is doing it for the first time so I thought I’d share it with you too. Maybe it will be a good guide for when you are planning to do your own taster lesson. I’ve also attached this Drama Information for Open Night flyer I have made and photocopied onto A5 sheets to hand out at subject selection evenings, open nights etc. There are also a whole bunch of articles online (like this one), many of which I have shared on the Facebook page that you could also include about why Drama is such an important subject for students to take if there are still people who are not convinced.

I hope this is useful to you.

1. Start in a circle, introduce yourself and what you do as a Drama Teacher. Ensure you’ve chosen a space where you can make noise and not bother other classes. We do ours on the Swimming and Athletics Carnival days so the school is empty.

2. Ask students if anyone has done drama before or seen any drama before. The kids will often list a lot of musicals that they have seen. When prompting them about doing drama I ask them what it involves and try to steer them towards a few key things: focus, facial expressions (they often will use the word “emotions” so I ask them “how do we show this”), body language (they often forget about this one), team work, improvisation. Then I base the activities on these things.

3. We play 21 to work on our focus. They usually don’t even get close to 10 but it’s fun. This game is listed under the Warm Up Games tab on the blog.

4. We play Knots to focus on team work. We also make letters of the alphabet in larger groups (say splitting a group of about 20 in half). This game is also listed under the Warm Up Games tab on the blog.

5. I play Dollars and Cents to get them into smaller groups (why not whack in a bit of numeracy?) after this. Everyone is either a 5 or 10 cent piece and they have to make dollar amounts. For example if I call out “20cents!” 4 five cent pieces need to huddle together to form a group. They then use these groups to complete the next activity which is building inanimate objects with their bodies. I always do the Harbour Bridge because I love it (no other reason). Others I’ve asked them to create include a desktop computer, car, lawn mower.

6. For facial expressions we play Me, You. We start with the face but then of course the kids realise that it comes through in their walk and their voice. I talk about “turning up the volume” so we exaggerate our actions so they are big and silly.

7. Finally, this leads into very basic improvisation with the game “What are you doing?”

8. If there is time I extend on this with lengthier improvs and A LOT of side coaching.

9. I have also done Object Spitfire to a song as a further intro to improvisation. I think I did Uptown Funk last year. It was relevant to the kids so they loved it .

I’ve found that all this gets me through about a 45 minute lesson but after doing it a couple of times round (we have a rotational system so you might see 4-5 groups of 20 in a day) you get quite quick so maybe have a couple of things up your sleeve just in case you have a bit of time left.

Any other ideas that have worked for you? Please share in the comments below. 

Requests for Resources

I often receive a lot of comments and emails requesting copies of my programs and resource notes.

One in particular that I am often asked about is my Approaches to Acting program and the associated resources.

I have a section on the blog called “Resources.”I have uploaded some resources there including the program I wrote for Approaches to Acting.

The resources connected to the Approaches program, particularly to the Meyerhold section of the program have page references to the textbook I used and created notes from. You can buy the textbook from Amazon at this link.

I would upload my notes however I had an unfortunate USB accident some time back and a lot of the stuff was lost and I now only have my original hard copies. When I prioritise some time I  may take photos of them and upload however essentially it was me making a written summary of the chapters I’d read from the textbook.

The Boal resources were a mish mash of photocopies I found and had when I first started teaching. This was almost 10 years ago when not everything was digital yet.

I also get requests for the PowerPoint that links with the Year 10 Oscars “just cause” lessons. I would also share this but it is so huge because of the amount of video clips in it, the computer has a hissy fit every time I try to.

I just thought I’d post this as a little reminder to check there first before messaging or commenting for a copy of the program because it’s already there for you to use with your class.

Please also be mindful of copyright and creative licence and ensure you make all the necessary acknowledgements if sharing this with others. These programs are for classroom use only and are not to be used for university assignments without express written permission. I have expressed my opinion on this before.

 

I Think I’ve Found a Solution to My Gripe with the Logbook

So, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted.

I apologise.

I’ve been grappling with my creativity and the direction of the blog for some time. You can read about my seemingly never ending writer’s block here.

Also, prioritising time for writing is something I’ve not been good at making lately either. A couple of times I’ve grappled with actually deleting the blog altogether but I know many of you find it useful and there is a large community of us on the Facebook page now and through the followers of the blog posts which I greatly appreciate.

I guess I just care about making quality content and I tend to um and ah over it rather than just getting into it and starting. I try to keep up with a lot of the requests I receive but I apologise if I am a little on the slow side.

I’m starting a little side project to inspire me to get blogging again. Completely un-Drama related but I’ll let you know about it in a few days.

I think I’m also set on a series of posts that I’d like to get out to you all over the course of the next term. Baby steps in order to recommit to blogging and to supporting drama teachers. They have a literacy focus but also have helped me to overcome my long held gripe with the drama logbook.

I look forward to sharing it with you.

K.

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for my blog. I always like to share this with my readers so as to thank you for your readership throughout 2015. I’d also like to wish you a happy, healthy and safe 2016. I look forward to your continued readership this year.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 810,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 35 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy World Teachers’ Day!

World Teachers' Day

It’s October 5th here in Australia so I’m getting in early and wishing you:

HAPPY WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY!

Thank you for all that you do each and every day in the classroom.

The kids we teach are very lucky.

Monologue Must Share: Orson The Beetleslayer

For those who are embarking on the HSC this term and will be in the process of trying to look for some good monologues for their students to perform, may I suggest taking a look at the Suggestions to Monologues page (click on the link in the left hand tool bar). There are some great suggestions there. Also, I suggest reading the comments as other people offer their suggestions.

I thought I’d also share a clip I was watching the other day that I thought would make a really great monologue. It’s from Game of Thrones. Whilst a good majority of Game of Thrones content is unusable I did find this scene between Tyrion and Jaime to be quite a lovely scene. Performers could create their own character and adapt the dialogue to fit its circumstances. Anyway, I thought it was quite a sensitive moment amidst all the blood and gore on that show.

You can watch the clip HERE.

Theatre of the Absurd Workshop Series

Since my honest post a couple of months ago I have been very grateful for the many positive comments and messages of support for the blog. So, thank you very much. I am timidly returning to regular blogging and share this with you today.

I often receive emails of support, encouragement and requests for resources.

One of the most viewed sections on the blog is the lesson ideas for teaching the Theatre of the Absurd. It’s a tricky theatrical style to break down and teach. Over the years I’ve scaffolded and scaffolded so that finally I have a workshop series that seems to capture the essence of Absurdism. I often end up emailing this to various people who message me with resource requests which is quite often. So, to make it a little easier on me and you, I’ve added it to this blog post today or you can find it on my Resources page (click on the link in the left hand tool bar). It should be used in conjunction with these suggested teaching strategies: Absurdism 1 and Absurdism 2.

I’ve recorded a short video to explain how to read the table. You can check it out below but it is also available at my YouTube channel.

Here is the Workshop Series – The Theatre of the Absurd PDF referenced in the instructional video.

A little reminder: These resources are not designed for assignments or assessments for University students. If you wish to use these resources for this purpose please send me an email requesting permission.