Watching & Responding to Character Relationships in a Play (Part 1 of 2)

Lesson 1: Watching and Responding to Character Relationships in a Play (Part 1 of 2)

Length: 75 min.

Objective:Students will demonstrate an understanding of the interconnectedness of story and character relationships by responding physically, verbally, and through writing to a filmed performance of a modern play.

Levels of Understanding:

interpret, perspective

National Standards:

TH:Pr4.1.I.a. Examine how character relationships assist in telling the story of a drama/theatre work.

TH:Re7.1.I.a. Respond to what is seen, felt, and heard in a drama/theatre work to develop criteria for artistic choices.

Materials Needed:

  • A copy of the desired film (see options listed in hook)
  • Means of showing desired film
  • A copy of the Play Report Form for each student


Previously, the unit will have been introduced to the students. They will have been given summaries of and voted between watching and analyzing the following films in class:

  • Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun(1961), Daniel Petrie, dir. (128 min)
  • Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers(1993), Martha Coolidge, dir. (114 min)
  • Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman(1985), Volker Schlondorff, dir. (136 min)
  • Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie(1973), Anthony Harvey, dir. (100 min)

The results of the vote will not have been told to them yet. Instead, the DVD of the winning film will be displayed at the front of the class as the students walk in.

Step 1 (8 min):

Help the students pre-assess their knowledge of the play and its characters’ relationships. At the end of each viewing, the students will conduct an “avant-garde opera chat” as though they were discussing the production during intermission in a lobby—but with a twist.

Introduce each of the characters in the play very briefly, not giving away objectives, much given circumstance, or plot. Have a student come up for each character, physically representing that character.

Have the class arrange the characters in a tableau which represents the characters’ relationships based on what they understand of the play.

Have the class analyze the meaning of the tableau. 

Step 2: (3 min)

Each student will receive a Play Report Form. As they watch the movie, they should write the answers to its questionsin pencil, as their opinions may change over the course of the film.Play Report forms do not need to be completely filled out until by the end of the film, but students should consider and work on them all throughout the viewing process.

Step 2: (50-70 min.)

Show the first division of the winning film (about half the film). The class will watch the second division next class time. If the movie is too long for two class periods, finish viewing it on the third day of the unit.

Step 3: (12 min)

Reform the first tableau of character relationships from the pre-assessing “avant-garde opera chat.” Ask the class to adjust the image based on what they saw in the film and have written on their Play Report Forms. Ask them how learning more of the story influenced the way their character relationship tableau looked.