Students will demonstrate their ability to take on a director’s point of view by analyzing a script.
Directing Plays Textbook, TV and VCR/DVD, cued up film clips of various play scenes, copies of pages 27-30 of Ball’s book: Predominant Element, copies of the Director’s Book Requirements handout, optional: Due Dates Sheet
Show three-four clips from films that are based on plays. Try to find a part of the film that is more than just exposition so that there is some depth and detail involved in the clip. Some possible selections might include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer), The Crucible (with Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder), Noises Off! (with Carol Burnett and John Ritter), An Ideal Husband (with Rupert Everett and Julianne Moore). Encourage students to simply watch the film clips for an overall opinion without worrying about following the storyline. The students may want to jot down the title and a few key moments/things that stood out to them from each clip to help them keep the plays straight.
Transition – Write the following question on the board: Does the play excite you? Have students share their responses to this question from the clips that they saw. Explain that answering this question in the affirmative is the beginning steps to developing a subjective analysis to a play. Be sure that students understand what subjective means: an individual, emotional reaction.
Discussion – Assuming that every student responded affirmatively to the first question to at least one of the film clips, now move into the next part of the subjective analysis. Next add the following two questions on the board: • Why does it excite you? • Is it a good play by your standards (criteria)? Talk with class about their answers to these questions. Have them share their criteria from last class period and relate it to the clips that they enjoyed today. Remind them that they may each have a different response to these three questions, but that if they can support/justify their answers then they cannot be “wrong”. See page 22 in the textbook for reference on the subjective analysis.
Instruction – Pass out the copies of pages 27-30 of Ball’s book that go over the Predominant Element of a play. Review with the class the elements of a well-made play from Aristotle’s Poetics: • Theme • Plot • Language • Character • Spectacle • Music Point out to the students that these elements can cover any style of play or any playwright. Encourage students to determine what story they want to tell; which element is most important to them so they can focus on that element and it’s place in their chosen play. As Ball says on page 30: “Narrowing one’s focus and being specific and creative within limitation leads to the most vivid success. That is why I choose one predominant element and stick to it.”
Guided Practice – Have students pull out their script copies and three-ring binder. They should turn in one copy of their script to you (you may want to have a large three-ring binder on hand for yourself to put the scripts in) and put the other copy of the script into their binder. This will become their director’s book.
Then have the students take out a half-piece of paper and write their name and their chosen play title on it. Next have them state the predominant element in that play. Then have them write a VERY brief plot synopsis of the play (eight sentences or less).
Checking for Understanding – Once the students are done with their initial analysis of their play, have the turn to pages 30-32 in the textbook to be sure that they will be able to conduct a more thorough plot structure analysis on their own. Review the plot structure points and explain that students need to constantly look in their script for clues to the various points.
Instruction – Pass out the Director’s Book Requirements handout. Go briefly over each requirement, but reiterate to students that you will be going over each requirement in detail as you progress through the unit. Also teach them that while you may guide them through the initial phases of creating the foundation of the requirements, you expect them to expand them in detail and type them up for the final director’s book. You may want to also create a “Due Dates” sheet to pass out alongside this handout so that students can see the timeframes they will be dealing with in the unit.
Individual Practice – If time remains in class, allow the students to begin working on the first three requirements that have already been covered in class: Director’s Criteria, Subjective Analysis, and Play Analysis. They could also write down the royalty information that they need to supply in their books: the playwright, publishing company and contact address, and performance fees.
Students can be assessed by their responses to their play’s predominant element and brief analysis. They can also be given a score for bringing two copies of their script to class.