Deciding on a Concept

LESSON #4: Deciding on a Concept


OBJECTIVE: Students will demonstrate their understanding of brainstorming as a group to choose a concept by discussing various concept ideas in their group and documenting their discussion.





“Take Action”: What setting or time period do you think would be interesting/exciting for your group’s play?


Lesson Plan:

Display the above comic before class starts so that all the students have a chance to see it when they come in.


Upon completion of the Take Action and attendance, have the students turn to the person next to them and share their reactions to the comic, give them about half a minute to do so.

  • Once they have had a chance to share, invite them to share anything really interesting they talked about with the class.
  • Have students discuss the following at their tables:
    • Because Shakespeare is dead, we can’t really have anything NEW by him. But how can we make Shakespeare new?
    • Why is Shakespeare still being performed after all these years if all the stories are the same every single time?

Through the discussion, they likely have landed on the idea that even though Shakespeare’s stories don’t change, we can tell the stories differently.

  • Make the following claim: even though Shakespeare’s stories were written hundreds of years ago, they are still completely relevant and relatable to our lives and experiences today which is why they can be told differently and still work.
  • That’s the point of this unit, they don’t have to take the teacher’s or anyone else’s word for it. Their job is to experiment and prove it themselves.


Today students will be finalizing a concept for their re-telling of their chosen play.


Ask students: If you hear someone say they have a concept for a production or a play, what do you think they mean by “concept”?

  • Explain to them that a concept is the idea behind the whole design of the show. This will help them develop a very basic understanding of a production concept.
  • For example: If I wanted to produce Macbeth in the world of Star Wars, Star Wars would be my concept. Every part of the design would need to come back to the Star Wars world.
    • NOTE: For the purposes of this unit, the students will simply gain a simple understanding of a concept with the focus of their definition being on the setting or style of the story. The teacher should help them understand that as they move on in theatre, concepts will become even more complex and tend to delve into abstract ideas more than just the surface level of just a setting or world of the play


Explain the following guidelines for choosing a concept:

  • Everyone in their group needs to agree on the chosen concept.
  • Talk out the basics: What will this look like in practice? Will it work for all of the important parts of the story? Does the concept fit the story or do you have to make the story fit the concept?
  • Try not to go with your very first idea (at least not without some tweaking). Brainstorming should be a process and should lead you to the final idea.


Let students know that they are going to have some time to discuss with their group what concept they would like to use for their play. There will be an order for their discussions and brainstorming projected at the front of the class. They need to follow this order.

  • Have students split up into their groups.
  • Project the following instructions on the board:
    • Have each person in the group share what their answer was for the Take Action at the beginning of class. Everyone should have a chance to share their ideas.
    • Have a scribe write down each person’s idea. (Feel free to use different scribes throughout, just one person doesn’t need to write the whole time.)
    • Talk about each idea and answer the following questions about each possible concept (have the scribe take notes on the discussion for each question):
      • Does this concept fit our play? Why or why not?
      • Will it work for the whole story or just parts?
      • What do we like about it? What do we dislike about it?
    • Once you have discussed each idea, decide as a group on the concept that works the best for your story.
    • Write your chosen concept on the bottom of your brainstorming page and write down at least TWO justifications for why you chose this concept.
    • Make sure each of your group member’s names are on the paper and turn it in.


Closure: Remind students to read the act of their play that was assigned to them a couple days before! They will be required to report on their reading the next day. Remind them about the No Fear Shakespeare resource. Most acts would only take about a half hour to read using that resource available to them.