Developing a Concept


Students will demonstrate an ability to interpret a text by choosing a concept for their project and by using the concept to make movement and style choices for the staging of their poem.



Materials Needed

PowerPoint about directing concept with pictures from other performances that demonstrate concept, Director’s Concept Worksheet  Developing a Directors Concept Worksheet



Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook
Author’s Notes: I will show students a power point with pictures and text from the play I directed The Wrestling Season, to show them the process I went through in directing the play. I will share a little bit about the play and its story line, and show students the theme I developed. Power point and presentation of experience depicts author’s experience. Using the principle of the lesson plan, apply own experiences for that portion.




Step 1 (Instruction/Discussion): What helped me direct this play and really unify my cast was that we had a common goal or vision. (idea of how the play will look, what the purpose of the play is). What is a vision? (How you “see” the play, your specific interpretation, how your production will be unique. What colors do you see? What emotions? What themes?) All the things we worked on last class period with our poems. Why is it important that everyone working on the play has the same vision? How does having a specific interpretation help your audience understand the play? How can you share your vision with your collaborators? How can you communicate what you want visually to your team and to your audience members?


Step 2 (Modeling): As a director, from the theme (that judgment and abuse are destructive) I came up with a vision, or a concept. The concept is the driving idea behind the play that a director chooses, a way to communicate that message of the play. How will you tell the story? What colors, sounds, styles, and the mood of your piece rolled into a single statement. Show students the slide of the PowerPoint with the concept statement on it. The physical struggles in wrestling represented the internal struggles and heartaches of the characters. Wrestling = a metaphor for life. I attempted to show the negative effects of judgment in all of my staging. I used stylized wrestling (dance like all counted out), a very specific choice, to show that the outward struggle represented an inward struggle. Afterwards we had an audience discussion and there were comments made about how this really helped the audience understand what I was trying to say with my interpretation.


Step 3 (Modeling): Show various pictures on the PowerPoint from other shows and ask students what the possible concepts were depending on the colors and the style of costumes and set. Show students how exciting it is to be able to interpret a play and make your own decisions. The exciting thing about directing is that there are so many choices to make. As long as your ideas are supported by the text and help you tell the story you can be as creative or simple as you want. It is your creation.


Step 4 (Modeling/Guided Practice): Once again (on an overhead or on the PowerPoint) exhibit the text of the poem “I Can Still See You”, by Paul Celan. Ask students to remember what moods and ideas they had gleaned from it during an earlier read. Guide students to decide a basic storyline and theme that could be used for the poem.

For example:

Theme Statement: Hope propels us through times of loss and despair to discover identity and embrace ourselves

Story Synopsis: Maggie and Collin are very much in love with each other and have been together for a significant period of time. Maggie’s whole world revolves around Collin and their relationship-she depends on him for her happiness. Eventually, Collin leaves Maggie, feeling that he must discover himself. Maggie is devastated, she struggles to cope with daily existence. With the passage of time and self-discovery, Maggie begins to realize her own intrinsic worth and identity.


Step 5 (Modeling/Guided Practice):Then ask students what a concept statement could be for this poem and this story.
Explain more specifically how to write a concept statement. Remind students that the concept statement summarizes what you plan to focus on and how you will interpret the piece. concept statements can be complex and symbolic like the one I create for The Wrestling Season, or they can be as simple as interpreting Charlie Brown as a cartoon.
A concept statement often has these three components
1. Mood: what is the emotion or atmosphere of the piece.
2. Message: what do you want to communicate with the piece?
3. Image: what is your central image or symbol?

An example Concept Statement:

Maggie and Collin’s relationship together is seen as a montage (short clips and images) of emotions and events that linger in Maggie’s memory providing pain and comfort.

How the concept will be used:
-While Maggie is in the present in a walk through a park, her world is in black and white (showing the pain of her loss) (Mood)
-Maggie’s memories of Collin are in bright colors, often reds, representing the joy and passion she had for life when she was with him. (Mood)
-At the end of the walk she comes to a river where she tosses in a necklace Collin gave her and watches the water go under the bridge. (Image)
-As the camera turns back to Maggie, She then moves on from the river and walks towards a hill.
-As she walk over the hill, her world becomes colored, representing her hope in life, freedom from emotional pain, and her new identity. (Message)




Give students time to work on their projects. Their first assignment is to write a concept statement for their storyline. They need to decide how they plan on telling their story. After they write down their concept, students can list what colors they see using in their story, what type of music or sounds they would want for underscoring, the style of movement they want to use, what type of props, and how they will stage their story in general. Students can begin to flesh out their story, actually find a piece of music they want to underscore their piece, decide on what costumes they will wear, make assignments for props, and begin physically practicing how they would stage their story.