Given Circumstances, Research, & Inspiration!

Lesson 4: Given Circumstances, Research, & Inspiration!


Lesson Objective: Students will prepare to create and present a design/research presentation for the play they have chosen by learning how to identify and use given circumstances in a script to shape and inform their design.  


Materials Needed:

AV hook ups

Monty Python & The Holy Grail Witch Scene (transcript)  4.Monty Python script

RESEARCH PPT Slides  Lesson 4 Research PDF

Research Presentation Rubric Sheet  4.Set Design Research Presentation Assignment



Have projector set up & Monty Python text displayed

Call for 3 student volunteers—assign each a role from the scene. They will read it for the class. While this happens, the class’ job is to look for and note as many clues about the characters and the setting as they can.

  • What could you tell about the world the characters live in (and the characters themselves) from what was read? How?



Open the RESEARCH PPT Slides

Go through slides 1-9

  • These introduce the 6 main “Given Circumstances” and explain why GC and research are necessary in the design process
  • Student should take notes on the GC info
  • Check for understanding along the way, ask for questions, for students’ observations, etc…



Have students pull out their scripts/notebooks where they have been doing their set design application work.


Have them review their scripts and identify the Given Circumstances for their play.

  • Location(s)-Where does the story take place?
  • Time-When does it take place?)
  • Economic Climate
  • Social Environment
  • Political Environment
  • Religious Environment

Which of these circumstances are most important or highly emphasized in your particular play? How does this affect your set design ideas?



Wrap up class by going through slides 12-16. These quickly outline students’ next assignment for their set design project—A viz & research presentation. Presentations will begin the next class period. Make sure students copy down the requirements & q’s are answered. They should also prepare to give a quick (few sentences) summary of their play before presenting.


NOTE: When I taught this unit, the stage crew class had to use the next couple class periods following this lesson to complete set ups for school events. Therefore, students created their presentations at home. The presentations were due about a week after the assignment was given. I emailed them the slides and other requirements to help them as they worked.  If your students have access to a computer lab or other equipment you can give them time the next day to work on presentations during class, etc…The power is yours!