Students will gain a fundamental understanding of the purpose of theatre in an educational setting, how they can utilize it to their full advantage and how theatre is used to communicate a message by reading the included short story and mapping out the plot structure.
Theatre emerged similarly out of ritual and dance. It was people using their bodies and movement to tell the story of a myth. It came to be told many many times. They added costumes and masks and went from ritualistic dances to oral stories with participants acting out the different roles. It is still emerging today into the theatre you see in the classroom and in theaters. What are some examples of myths or fables that you know? Aesop’s fables, included. The class needs to divide into 4 groups. One group needs to tell the story of their fable through ritualistic dance, the next through pantomime alone, the next can use sounds and pantomime, even a narrator if desired. The last group can have the actors tell the story through narrators, pantomime, actors speaking roles, etc.
Instruction: Theatre is all about communication. We just learned how we can communicate with our bodies through pantomime. We will learn soon how we can communicate with our voices in the next unit. But this unit, we will be learning about theatre as a tool to help spread a message and the different basics to spread an effective message and to make what is known as a well made play.
DISCUSSION: Why do you do theatre in High School? Why have the government, the school, your parents, even you deemed it as important enough to take time away from Math and Science? How can you use it to your best advantage during school? What plays have you seen? List on board. What is the message these plays are trying to spread. Look at the commercial on before channel 1 everyday – one is the loneliest number. What does the student government want you to do by showing this commercial? What about other commercials –favorite commercials– they are forms of communication – they are performances that are trying to get you to do something. Why? What works?
Aesop’s fables came a bit before another important individual: Aristotle. Who is Aristotle? – the father of plot structure. What is a plot? Why is it important to have a plot? Modeling: The teacher will draw Aristotle’s concept of the well-made play. The class will discuss what each element is and how it relates to a play: exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax and denouement. The class will further discuss the four elements needed to make theatre: actors, audience, place and light. They will discuss the role of each and variations that can be made. The class will also learn the difference between theatre and theater.
Checking for Understanding: The teacher will give examples and ask the students to identify each element of plot structure, or what message is trying to be communicated. What did we learn from the obstacles encountered in our pantomime workshop? Where was the plot structure there? What did the character what, what was the rising action, now was it resolved? What happens if it is not resolved?
Transition: Using a welknown fairytale, like Cinderella, the class will review the story, picking out the important points. This can reviewed orally from memory or can be read aloud as a class.
Guided Practice: The class will together map out the elements of Aristotle’s well-made play and see if the story fits into the structure. This will be done on the chalk board and the students will copy it into their notes.
Independent Practice: The students will silently read the included short story: The Fox and the Horse, by the Brothers Grimm. Independently and on another piece of paper, they will map out the story using Aristotle’s method. This sheet will be turned in at the end of class and graded. If time is an issue, this assignment can be given as homework and returned the following class period.
Closure and Assessment: The instructor will erase the board and ask the students to close their notes, they will again map out the elements of Aristotle’s method. Then they will give examples (from plays that they know, movies, stories, etc.) of exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, denouement. The students will turn in their assignment for the day before they leave class for credit.