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Problem Solving in Theatre Crises


Students will demonstrate an ability to work together to solve problems by working in groups to solve theatre crises and put on a short play.


Materials Needed

Caution tape; cards with disaster explanations; assortment of fabrics, safety pins, trimmings, buttons, etc; copy of a short, slightly less known fairytale play, with pieces literally cut out of it…chunks of dialogue, stage directions, etc; some pieces of wood, random background pieces, etc; 4-6 flashlights

Theatre Crises Directions

**This lesson could be crafted from the beginning with no prior explanation or it could be adapted to fit the current play that the class is studying/putting on extra-curricular.  It could be used in a Stage Tech class or regular Theatre class.  It could extend into a few class periods.**


Lesson Directions

Have a sign on the door that says “Danger Zone” and have caution tape on the door. Have four different zones set up, each with the group of materials. At each table have a card that explains the disaster (see attachment).


  • Divide the students into four groups and have them work to fix the problems that have arisen. Use your discretion as to whether or not students are mature enough to form effective groups, if not, courteously intervene. (In this case it might be effective to have at least one student who excels in each of the areas in a specific group so that students feel more comfortable with what they are about to attempt.)
  • Tell them that they must work together to put on the show…the show must go on!! Everyone’s efforts count and will be judged accordingly.
  • Offer help as needed. Encourage them not only to problem-solve within their group, but also to communicate clearly and collaborate with the other groups in order to create a cohesive short play performance.
  • Watch them creatively handle the problems that you have contrived.
  • Perform the short play using the script, lighting, set, and costumes that the groups have created.
  • Reflect on the entire process. How did communication and collaboration contribute to the problem-solving of the immediate crisis?  How did groups come to their decisions and plans of action?   How can the principles learned through this experience be applied to the bigger picture of theatre?  Of life?