More Theatre of the Absurd Teaching Ideas

One of the posts that seems to get a lot of views here on the blog is the one on suggestions for teaching the Theatre of the Absurd. I taught it again this year and I made a few alterations to my program and tried a few new things. You might like to use these in your class.

1. Focus on Being a Director

I’ve posted previously about how I spent several lessons scaffolding how to write a Director’s Concept. I wanted the students focus to look at the play as directors rather than as students.  I spent a lot more time than I have in the past building a strong understanding of the concepts behind the Theatre of the Absurd in order to more effectively work through into the practical aspects.

2. Workshops that Provoke Insight

I went on some PD last year that suggested a pedagogy of teaching that involved a different structure  to drama lessons so as to ensure experiential learning could be more easily transferred to the written essay. It suggested this idea of workshops that centered around key questions that required the students to have insights based on their practical experience as well as an ability to reflect on these. I structured mine over four lessons and found that they worked really well in being able to better convey these concepts to students. Here is a link to a PDF version of what I gave my students in a booklet: Workshop Series – The Theatre of the Absurd I also gave the students a Workshop Reflection Template to fill in on each of the workshops. The one in the link above is for Workshop 1. I would use the same template for the other three but replace the question as per the Workshop Series worksheet.

3. Devising an Original Absurdist Piece

I revised the assessment task and had the students form pairs. They had two tasks. The first was to write a Director’s Concept for their original Absurdist piece, which was the second part. The piece was to be created using dialogue from Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. It could be used in any order and from any section as long as the sentences were as per the scripted play. The piece also had to demonstrate an understanding of the aspects looked at in the workshops. Some of the pieces that the students came up with were highly engaging.

I’m really pleased with how I taught this unit and think I really delved into the students higher order thinking and insight. I really enjoyed teaching it.

What strategies do you use with your class to teach The Theatre of the Absurd?

15 Comments

  1. Hi Karla, I’m also going to be teaching Theatre of the Absurd this quarter and loved your idea on running workshops that provoke insight. This is my first year teaching this unit, so my mind is still cluttered with different ideas. Could you please email me some specific details about the workshops you ran, if possible? Thanks again so much!

    • Hi Alix,

      No, I’ve not taught Absurdism in the junior years. I find the concept of existentialism is sometimes hard for kids to understand. Even in Year 11 so I’ve only ever tried Absurdism with my slightly higher ability kids. If you think your students could manage it then by all means go for it! It’s such a great topic! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the blog. I really appreciate it.

  2. Hi Karla

    Your posts have been so helpful (!) as I try to navigate teaching Theatre of the Absurd to my drama students.

    As a first year teacher it is often difficult to filter through quality practical resources. Would you have any details on your workshops that you would be willing to share? Thank you kindly in advance.

    Sara

  3. Thanks so much for your help with this form of Theatre – if you still can, can you send through information on the workshops you did to develop insight? I would love some further information as I am about to embark on this unit soon!
    Cheers

  4. Hey Karla. I’m a student and doing an assessment where me and a couple other girls have to prepare a 50 minute lesson to teach the class on theatre of the absurd. I was just wondering what warm ups/games you had in your teaching of the unit. Also what parts of absurdist scripts did you use. This would be incredibly helpful if you could just email me the details. Thanks

  5. Hi Karla, thanks for your posts of Absurd Theatre – it’s really a mind-bender. I’d be interested in your workshop schedule if you wouldn’t mind sharing? I’m also interested to know which warm ups you found particularly effective too.

  6. Pingback: Theatre of the Absurd Workshop Series | Drama Teacher's Network

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