I Heart Drama (in the Classroom)


(Adapted from Patrice Baldwin’s The Drama Book)
Process drama is a specific form of drama particularly suited to engaging students deeply in whatever subject is being taught. The following tools can be used singly to make a lesson plan more meaningful or in various combinations to form a complete process drama exploration.
The following is a listing and explanation of several process drama tools and how they might be used in the classroom.
1.  Improvisation—unrehearsed scene co-written with partner (s) without pen or paper.
     (Example: A slave owner and an abolitionist meeting at a dinner party.)
2.  Teacher in role—Teacher takes on the role(s) of character(s) within a drama.
     Teacher takes on the role of a messenger coming to warn a group of people about a plague coming to their town. Later, he/she takes on the role of the Mayor, another townsperson, or another character within the drama.
3.  Still Image (Tableau)—The group takes up different poses to construct a picture describing what they want to say. (Example: A young boy during the Civil War saying good-bye  to his family as he goes off to war.  Students may use thought-tracking (see below) to extract meaning from the image.
4.  Freeze-Frame—A series of linked still images that can describe important moments within a drama, piece of literature, event in history, etc. (Example: Cinderella at home with her Stepmother and sisters, Cinderella wishing she could go to the ball, appearance of the Fairy Godmother, Cinderella with the Prince at the ball, the sisters trying on the glass slipper, Cinderella trying on the glass slipper, the Prince
     and Cinderella being married.)
5.  Mantle of the Expert—Students are asked to take on the role of people with specialized knowledge that is relevant to the situation of the drama.(Example: Scientist, President)
6.  Narration—Teacher narrates part of story or sequence of events to help it begin, move it on, to aid reflection, to create atmosphere, to give information, to maintain control.
7.  Thought-tracking—Individuals, in role, are asked to speak aloud their private thoughts and reactions to events. (Example: In the above example of a young boy going off to war, audience members may ask questions of the persons playing the boy, his father, mother, brothers and sisters. They may come from the audience, tap the person on the shoulder, and ask their questions.)
8.  Hot-seating—Students, as themselves, question the teacher in role or student in role to find out more information about the character and their situation. (Example: Teacher (or student) takes on the role of Eleanor Roosevelt. Students ask questions about her life. This is a great technique to use when students are giving reports about people or events.)
9.   Meetings—The students come together in a meeting (in role) to present information, plan action, suggest strategies, solve problems. (Example: The slaves on board the Amistad meet to determine how they will escape their captors.)
10. Collective role play—Several members of the class play the same part simultaneously to provide mutual support and present a range of ideas. (Example: Four students play the part of Abraham Lincoln.)
11.  Decision alley—Students line up in two lines facing each other. One side favors one side of an opinion, the other side another. A student walks down the “alley,” as each side tries to convince the person of the truth of their opinion. The person who has “walked the alley” tells the class what his opinion is or what he/she has decided after having this experience. (Example: One side of the alley tries to convince the
       person walking through the alley that marijuana should be legalized, the other side tries to convince the other that it should not be.)
12.  Role-On-The-Wall—Students outline the figure of a person on a long sheet of butcher paper. They then write on the paper feelings or thoughts they have about the person. (Example: The Mayor in the story of Rose Blanche who puts a little boy in a truck to be sent to the Extermination Camps.)
13.  Guided Imagery/Visualization—Teacher narrates part of the story while the students close their eyes and visualize sensory details. A writing assignment directly after would augment their sensory impressions. Soft music while visualizing can add depth to the experience.
14. Pantomime/Movement—Students act a part of the story using no voice. Music may add to the pantomime. Abstract movement can illustrate an emotion or sensory details of a story.
15. Soundscape—Students use voice to suggest the sounds of a certain setting within a story.
16.  Interview—Students act as newspaper reporters finding out information about a scene.
17.  Choral Speaking—Students repeat certain lines in unison or divided into various parts according to gender, pitch of voice, character, etc.
18. Speaking Objects—Objects in a scene speak about themevles in relation to a character or event as an eye-witness with a viewpoint.
19. Performance Carousel—Groups prepare scenes representing parts of the drama story, then arrange them in chronological order and perform them in sequence without interruption.
20.  Eavesdropping/Gossip—Groups or individuals overhear conversations and report them back to others.
21.  Forum Theatre—Students enact a scene. Audience can stop the drama, replace or introduce new characters to change the scene.

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