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Theater and Drama

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					         Teaching Module:

Understanding the Principles
  of Theater and Drama




         Communication 5600
           Becky Locuson
               WMU
            Spring 2007

           Locuson Page 1
                           Learning Objectives
      Recognizing the relationship between theater and art

                   Identifying the basic elements of theatre
                   performance (e.g. acting, directing, producing,
                   designing)

                               Analyzing basic characteristics of various
                               dramatic forms (e.g. comedy, tragedy)

   Standards – English Language Arts*

   1.3.1 Compose written, spoken, and/or multimedia compositions in a range of
   genres: pieces that serve a variety of purposes and that use a variety of
   organizational patterns.

   1.3.7 Participate collaboratively and productively in groups—fulfilling roles and
   responsibilities, posing relevant questions, giving and following instructions,
   acknowledging and building on ideas and contributions of others to answer
   questions or to solve problems, and offering dissent courteously.

   1.5.1 Use writing, speaking, and visual expression to develop powerful, creative and
   critical messages.

   1.5.2 Prepare spoken and multimedia presentations that effectively address
   audiences by careful use of voice, packing, gestures, eye contact, visual aids, audio
   and video technology.


*More applicable standards available




                                   Locuson Page 2
Use a dramatic introduction:
      Costumed scene
      Music (used for this demonstration)
      Dramatic reading using lighting
      Use props and sound effects
      Take the class to a theater to introduce unit

What is the relationship between theater and art?

1a. Ask class to brainstorm their ideas about what art is while prompting them to “get at”
    the following ideas about art: (Provide personal examples where applicable)

             Art makes it possible for people to live wider and richer lives

             Art helps people to manage their environment and answer their deepest
             questions

             Art enables people to express the inexpressible

             Art allows people to communicate their ideas about experience in a
             uniquely forceful way.

             Art communicates something about the human experience

 1b.Ask class how art relates to theater (if they have problems here because of
    inexperience, have them relate art to movies or TV shows)




                                   Locuson Page 3
Identify the basic elements of theater performance


                            Director                        Producer



       Stage
      Manager
                                 Scene             Costume           Lighting
                               Designer           Designer           Designer
                Running
  Actors          Crew



                                                 Technical
                                                  Director



                                               Construction
                                                   Crew


NOTE: Give examples as you are inspired

2a. Director’s Job Description:
              Ask students if they can identify any famous directors
              (theater, film, TV). What contribution do they think a director makes and
              what are some of the specific contributions directors make to their plays,
              films, or shows that make their production so memorable?

                 o Ultimately the director is responsible for everything that goes on
                   onstage (blocking, set, performances, etc.)
                 o The play becomes his/her artistic conception of it.
                 o He/she motivates and inspires the cast and crew




                                   Locuson Page 4
2b. Properties Manager: Things to Know

         o Documents time and place; instrumental in creating “environment”
         o Three types of properties:
                 Set props (furniture, lamps, tree stumps)
                 Trim props (pictures, drapes, vases)
                 Hand props (money, weapons, cigarettes)

3b. Sound Effects Technician: Things to Know

                    Responsible for creating environment and mood (music, thunder,
                    traffic, gunfire)

4b. Lighting Technician: Things to Know

         o   Lighting systems are divided fundamentally into two components:
                    A source of illumination (Lights, spotlights, flood lights, strip lights
                    working together)
                    A system of control – allows the technician to control amount,
                    direction, color and intensity

5b. Costuming: Things to Know

         o Functions
                 Documents time and place
                 Aids in character portrayal
                 Assists the actor in playing his/her role
                 Functions metaphorically to help convey basic themes and the
                 mood of the play
                 Adds color and spectacle

6b. Makeup: Things to Know

                    Enhances actors’ natural features
                    Aids in character portrayal or to document certain information about
                    the dramatic character
                    Aids the actor in feeling the role
                    Functions metaphorically to help convey mood




                                   Locuson Page 5
Basic characteristics of various dramatic forms
      NOTE: I wouldn’t teach a class about dramatic forms by using these descriptions
      alone. I have opted to emphasize them here because this is a study guide for a
      test that may require that teachers be able to identify the forms. These are all
      direct quotes. (Please see bibliography).

3a. Comedy:
      “The essential qualities of comedy aren’t structural and its nature cannot be
      defined in terms of form, neither can it be linked to a particular subject matter. No
      one plot, characterization or theme is unique to comedy. It’s the way the
      playwright views the experience and the value he/she assigns to it determines
      whether the situations in a play will be comic/serious”

3b. Tragedy:
       “The essential qualities of tragedy aren’t structural and its nature cannot be
       defined in terms of form. It’s a common spirit or view of experience which has
       come to be known as “the tragic view of life.” It’s a view that centers on our fate
       and, more specifically, on our need to give meaning to our fate despite the fact
       that we’re doomed to failure and defeat. WE are born to die—the fate of
       humanity.”

3c. Melodrama:
      “The drama of disaster” “Melodrama underscores a basic truth of the human
      condition: the majority of crises and conflicts in our daily lives lack tragedy’s
      broader moral dimension.” “TRAGEDY WITH CREAM”

       “The word is Greek (literally “music drama” or “song drama”) and it referred to
       those parts of ancient Greek festivals that included songs and dances. The
       function of the music is to heighten drama.” (Give the shark music from Jaws as
       an example)

       “Character of melodrama (drama of disaster)
          o Significant plot events are caused by forces outside the protagonists

           o Protagonist is a victim who is acted upon, whose moral character is not
             essential to the event and whose suffering doesn’t imply related guilt or
             responsibility.”

3d. Farce:
      “It’s not easy to see the controlling vision of farce: everything is in a state of
      chaos; superficial farce has a cartoon quality, a series of apparently unrelated
      lightening flashes, but there’s a zany logic to what happens. Fare is the
      expression of repressed wishes. (e.g. bedroom farces = repressed sexual
      desire).”




                                    Locuson Page 6
3e. Tragiccomedy:
       “Combines some of the qualities of tragedy and some of comedy. It’s most like
       life itself as we live it day-to-day. The vision of tragicomedy is one of almost
       unrelieved despair, but one in which hopes springs eternal.”

ACTIVTIES
Activity 1: Scramble game
        Teachers can employ a game like this as a tool to help students learn terms and
        avoid rote memorization.

Activity 2: (This is a very basic outline. Adjust as needs or learning objectives dictate)
        This activity may take 2 weeks to a month to complete; teacher will be available
to assist students as needed, but the goal should be to let students learn to work
cooperatively together in decision-making and problem solving. This would also provide
a good opportunity to get teachers/mentors from the community or from other
disciplines involved (e.g. parents, business people, drafting, shop, IT, librarians, art, etc)
Organize students into 2-person teams based on their interests: (e.g.
producing/directing, playwriting, costume/makeup design, set design, properties/sound,
marketing; business management/accounting).
Due dates for each team will need to be flexible based on logistical requirements. For
example: the director and producer will have to select the story and come up with an
overall “vision” before meeting with teams; properties team may have to start working
after the script is written, etc.

o Producer/director select a children’s book that would make a good children’s play;
  they will come up will come up with a production and rehearsal schedule and then
  will meet with all other teams to discuss their “vision” for the play (characterization,
  set ideas, budget etc) and to get team input.
o Playwriting team will then create a script (with some basic blocking) based on that
  children’s story
o Costume and makeup team will come up with the costume and makeup design for
  each character
o Set design team will produce a set and lighting concept
o Properties/sound team will create a list of trim, hand, and set props and sound
  effects along with resources
o Marketing team will design advertising posters and playbill
o Business team will create and manage an operating budget

The teams will meet periodically to work collaboratively. The class will create a portfolio
or multigenre project and/or a digital story documenting the project. The digital story
can then be published online and/or presented at Parent Teacher Conferences or
some other venue.

Activity 3
Have students create a shoebox set based on a play of their choice. Resource
materials are available in books and online.



                                    Locuson Page 7
Drama and Theater Exam

Option A. Have students attend a production and write a review addressing the various
theatrical aspects (genre, performances, set design, costuming etc). Create a grading
rubric and provide that rubric to students beforehand so that they know what you will be
grading against.

Multiple choice:

1. “Blocking” is the term that refers to:
       a. Set design
       b. Movement by the actors on stage
       c. Screen printing advertising posters or playbills
       d. Keeping autograph hounds from jumping the handsome lead actor

2. What person is responsible for “running the show”?
     a. Director
     b. Stage Manager
     c. Producer
     d. Technical Director

3a. Identify stage right and stage left (actor’s perspective)
3b. Identify the wings                                          Audience
3c. Identify the orchestra pit
3d. Identify upstage and downstage
3e. Identify the apron                                           Stage
3f. Identify center stage

4. A grip:
      a. Is one’s hold on a baseball bat
      b. The person who moves or places scenery
      c. A term that refers to when the actor understands his/her motivation
      d. A lever on the light control board

5. A _____________ is placed in front over the lens of an ellipsoidal spotlight, the
   pattern (circle, stars, etc) is projected onto a backdrop.

6. Who was the Greek poet who is considered the “founder” of the dramatic arts?

7. Briefly describe the duties of the costumer designer OR the set designer.

8. Name a movie that has been adapted from a theatrical production.

9. The major divisions in a play are called ____________(scenes/acts). The smaller
   divisions are ___________(scenes/acts).

10. Give a reason for replacing one the of principle actors with his/her understudy
   and write an audience announcement to be made before the curtain goes up.

                                   Locuson Page 9

				
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