HOOK: Have students get out a paper and writing utensil. Instruct them to pay attention to all of the sensory details (colors, textures, mood, etc.) that are present in the play and write them down. Play the clip from The Tempest. Have the students share what words they thought of, what words came into their minds. Ask the students what methods were used to create these sensory details (lights, sound, backdrop, etc.) Repeat this process with the Dogville clip. Ask the students to describe also what the rules are in the world of the play in Dogville.
Step 1: Discussion- Show the students two more example pictures. One from Orfeo and Euridice, and another from You Can’t Take it With You. Have the students contrast the theatrical worlds that were creating in each play. Ask, “How does a director make the choice as to how to construct the world of their play?” Bring up the idea of how no matter what you decide to do with the play, you should have reasons that are drawn from the text of your script.
Step 2: Writing brain storm- Once you know what kind of world you are building onstage, you can figure out how you will create your world onstage. Lay out a large sheet of paper and crayons. Have the students come and write ideas of how a director can create a theatrical world onstage on the paper. While students are writing, hand out the copies of “EF’s Visit to a Small Planet: Some Questions to Ask a Play.” Have a student read off everything written on the sheet of paper.
Step 3: Group Reading- Read through the Elinor Fuch article as a class. Read “popcorn” style- a student will read a paragraph and then call another student’s name to read the next paragraph, and so on. Pause and discuss. Most of the article is just questions that you could use to analyze a text. Ask the students how they could use these questions as a director. How do these questions help to create a sensory feel? After the paragraph about time, pause and offer some examples of plays that have interesting non-linear time structures (like Travesties, The Last Five Years).
CLOSURE: Why is it important to ask these questions of a play? It is important to do this before you can make a world that actually makes sense. Have you ever seen a Shakespeare play that has a completely random concept that makes really no sense with the text? By knowing your play and going through these questions, you can make sure that everything you are doing connects.
ASSESSMENT: For full participation points, students must be contributing to discussion, writing down their ideas when instructed.