Techniques and Ideas for Teaching Drama
A Letter from Tibet
I received this letter last week:
I am a former student at your school. Although I was extremely handsome, I had no direction. It was as though 12 monkeys had scrambled my brain. I had made an appointment with my counselor, Joe Black, to withdraw from school and join a fight club. I went to your class that day and you implemented some great drama teaching ideas. Your techniques in teaching drama changed my life. I stayed in school and became an actor.
I don't remember anyone named Brad, but I do remember the drama teaching ideas and techniques in teaching drama that Brad wrote of. I now share them with you.
The greatest drama teaching idea I can share with you is to make sure students have a basic understanding of drama terms:
- Drama - any story told in dialogue form told by actors. Dramatic works include TV shows, live plays, and movies.
- Characters - as with all literature, drama includes main characters, minor characters, round or dynamic characters, flat and round characters, protagonists, antagonists, and foils.
- Dialogue - conversation between characters. Drama uses unique dialogue types:
- monologue: a long uninterrupted speech that reveals the speaker's thoughts and feelings.
- soliloquy: a long uninterrupted speech in which the character is alone on stage.
- aside: a short speech to the audience that the characters cannot hear.
- Stage directions - printed in italics or in parentheses, stage directions provide information on setting and how the play should be performed.
Strategies for Reading Drama
- Connect personal experiences to events in the drama (teachers can help by using good questioning techniques).
- Visualize the characters as you read stage directions.
- Evaluate characters' words and actions and determine what motivates them.
- Notice character changes.
- Compare characters.
- Make a three column chart - label the left column, character 1; the middle column, shared traits; the right column, character 2.
- Fill in the chart as you read.
- Analyze monologues and soliloquies.
- Read the play aloud.
- Identify the setting.
- Evaluate how the setting affects the play's mood.
- Identify major and minor conflicts.
Use these strategies in class discussion and journal entries to help students get the most out of their reading.