52 Plays in 52 Weeks: Week 1

The Cagebirds by David Campton

I hadn’t really thought about how I’d structure my blog posts for this challenge until now but I think I’ll just go with

a) What the play is about;

b) How it would be beneficial to our Drama classrooms;

c) If I can find any good clips or links I’ll add them in too.

I thought I might add in my personal feelings about the play as well seeing as it’s a challenge and all. So here goes…

I bought The Cagebirds purely on a whim. I get a bit carried away when I’m browsing Amazon. I’m at a point in my teaching where I think my depth of knowledge needs to be developed and my awareness and knowledge of plays that are appropriate to various students and types of classes needs expanding.

The Cagebirds by David Campton is a very short play of one act and is a play for eight women. The women play birds who live in a cage and are totally absorbed in themselves. For example, The Gazer spends all her time sprouting off how you can prevent not looking your best. The Wild One is introduced into the cage by the bird’s Mistress and thus ensues The Wild One’s attempts to coax the birds out of their cage to freedom.

This play offers a number of possibilities for things to happen in our Drama classrooms. The Wild One is the fiery, protagonist of the story and drives much of the action. It would be possible to combine several sections of her dialogue to create a monologue for a female student. Simply looking at how to characterise these women who have birdlike traits would also be really interesting.

The thing I was most excited about was the possibility of discussing set and costume requirements for the play. The Cagebirds could fit in brilliantly when looking at the elements of production. I was coming up with designs in my head as I read and thinking about the use of lighting to create the effect of a cage on stage. The brilliant thing also is that because the play is so short it really would be possible to read it and complete teaching and learning activities in a short amount of time. It’s language is not overly difficult either so I think it would be appropriate for a range of abilities.

Below are two clips from The Cagebirds. The first one is The Wild One’s monologue. The second, is the monologue again but taken from a student production. Notice how the birds are in straight jackets. An interesting interpretation.

Next week, Antigone by Sophocles as requested by @clarindabrown.

Do you have a play that you recommend I read? Let me know in the comments. Or join the challenge and tweet about it using the hashtag #52plays52weeks

Image Credit: a prisoner in my own mind / Frank Serritelli / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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