Pass out the attached puzzle sheet to each student. Have them work on answering the puzzle. Encourage them to work together to find the answer. Students can cut up the puzzle pieces if they desire. Once someone figures out the puzzle, or if no one figures it out, place the answer on the overhead
Transition – Discuss with the class how they worked to answer the puzzle. What techniques did they try? How hard was it? Liken this puzzle to directing: a director takes a whole bunch of pieces of seemingly random parts and it is his/her job to put them together in a beautiful sign (or play).
Discussion – Pass out the Directing Plays textbooks to the students. Have them turn to page 6 and discuss with them the three essential abilities of a director: 1. Thinking and Preparation: read a play, sift it for its core, find exciting theatrical means to make it speak to audiences.
2. Working with people, Collaboration: get a group of creative people to collaborate and work to realize their vision.
3. Common sense and Hard work: get it done efficiently, on time, within budget, with everything coming together at the opening.
Get the students to think about how these three abilities can be portrayed by a student in an educational setting such as this advanced theatre class: How can you prepare for directing a production? What are tips or advice in working with other people (especially people who might have different opinions and thoughts than you)? How does common sense play into directing?
Transition – One of the first steps in preparing to direct is to choose which play you want to direct. In some scenarios, the play is chosen long before the director (find some examples of local community or university theatre seasons that are set up before directors are appointed), but in this unit students will be able to choose a one-act play that they will prepare for directing at a student-produced night of one acts. The very first question to ask yourself as a director with a potential script is: “Do I like this play enough to do it?”
Guided Practice – Go through some play titles that the students will know (perhaps a script that they have studied in class or a local play that has recently performed). Talk with them about what specifically they liked or didn’t like about the play. Could any student direct that show based on the big question: “Do I like this play enough to do it?” Talk with the students about why they need to really, really like the play in order to direct it. Some answers might include: I’ll be spending a lot of time with it, I’ll be dissecting it, I need to feel positive about it so I can convey my enthusiasm about it, I want it to be a success, etc.
Instruction – Teach the class that they should create a specific list of things that they respond to in a play. You could have students take turns reading aloud the few paragraphs on pages 20-21 to help them understand why they must like the play enough to do it. Also see page 21 in the textbook under the Personal Requirements heading for guidance on how to get students to figure out their own requirements for directing a play.
Modeling – Share with the class your own personal requirements for directing a play. An example of my personal criteria include (in this order): • Characters • Language • Theme • Story • Music • Spectacle Some plays I would love to direct would be: Once On This Island, Noises Off! The Tempest, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Trojan Women because they fit into my order of criteria.
Checking for Understanding – Have each student take out a piece of paper and write down their top three criteria for choosing a play to direct. Ask them to write one or two sentences after each criteria justifying/supporting their order.
Individual Practice – Give the students the remainder of the class period to peruse the various one-act plays that you have available. Remind them that the play they choose needs to be one that they “like enough to do it!” Tell the students that they need to have the following prepared and brought to class for the next class period: • Two clean copies of their chosen one-act play that are three-hole punched • A three-ring binder • A pencil
Students can be assessed through their participation in the discussions, their director’s criteria responses, and their chosen script.