Six Drama/Theatre Lessons
by Teresa Love
Drama /Theatre Specialist
Fullerton School District
All the Arts for All the Kids
This set of lessons explores dramatic work as one learns to express a story. Since drama can be defined as “an actor with a conflict” and, in most theatre, drama is contained and expressed through story, story literature and character archetypes from six different cultures are explored.
The lessons are linked both to theatre arts standards and history/social science and language arts curriculum standards.
Emphasis is placed on expressional fluency, critical thinking, divergent thinking, cooperative learning, creating solutions to problems, and comparing and contrasting cultures and style.
Students participate in acting exercises, games and playmaking.
Lesson Three: Villains Try to Keep Heroes from Succeeding
Villains in stories throw into sharp relief the goodness and strength of heroes. Not only do villains represent humans who thwart noble hopes and dreams, but frequently villains represent natural and supernatural powers. These powers are mysteriously at the villain’s beck and call.
A dramatic, colorfully drawn Villain character ensures the reader’s allegiance to the Hero and heightens the story’s conflict. The vanquished Villain provides a satisfying climax to the story.
A good story teller uses his/her body, voice and mind to make the story come to life. And a few well chosen props don’t hurt either.
· Students will compare and contrast heroes and villains.
· Students will participate in the sound and motion of the Villain story
· Students will use their bodies, voices and minds to portray a villain’s encounter with a hero.
· Poster of Heroes from Lesson Two
· Correlating pictures of Villains for all the fictional Heroes.
· World map
· bandanna or napkin
· small towel
· small comb
· mortar and pestle (Cookware or import stores are a good source of a small inexpensive set)
· Dog ornament
· Cat ornament
· White board and markers
· “Baba Yaga, The Witch”, Usborne Stories From Around the World, retold by Heather Amery, Usborne Publishing Ltd., London, 2000; or other Villain story, teacher’s choice.
· Illustration of Baba Yaga
Villain, “bad guys”, antagonist, Russia, mortar, pestle, loom, weave, Baba Yaga
If you are using the Storytelling Tree, review the previous lessons as prompted by the ornaments already hanging on the tree. Note, but do not explain, the new ornaments (dog, cat, comb). Tell students that these new ornaments are characters and items that will appear in today’s story.
1. Present the poster from last week, along with the correlating pictures. Invite the students to match the “bad guys” with the “good guys”. Briefly review the concept that heroes overcome obstacles. Introduce the word antagonist, and use it throughout the lesson.
2. Ask “If heroes overcome obstacles, what do villains do?” After discussion, write the following on the white board: Villains try to stop heroes. Ask students to identify the ways the villains on the poster try to stop their correlating heroes.
3. Hold up a picture of Baba Yaga. Describe this fictional character as a character that exists in Russian stories. (Refer to map.) Detail the characteristics of this character, including her iron teeth, her house on chicken feet, her fence of bones, her herd of skinny cows, and her manner of traveling in a mortar and pestle. Use your mortar and pestle to describe the way Baba Yaga travels. (“Not like a Halloween witch on a broom. The mortar sort of jumps and bumps, along as the witch rides inside, steering as if her pestle was an oar.”)
4. Note: At this point the students will be eager for the story and will be asking to see the book. Tell them today that you are going to share the story from your head. Remind them not all stories are written down in books. We also carry stories in our heads and in our hearts.
5. Indicate you will use a few things to help tell the story. Get out the bandanna, towel and comb, and lay them ready to use as props. Refer to them as your props.
6. Tell the story. Be sure to use your voice and body to create the characters and dramatic tension Add sound and motion as you see fit, inviting the students to participate, as you have in the past two lessons.
7. Additionally, use the bandanna to wrap an imaginary piece of cheese. Indicate the dog and the cat ornaments, when you mention these characters in the story.
Use the comb and towel as they are called for in the story.
8. Invite the students to find a space on the floor where they will be able to stand without touching anyone or anything. Call upon them to use their common sense not to stand near equipment, doors, walls and furniture.
9. Ask students to form themselves into a small ball on the floor. Tell them no voices should be working at this point. (“Silence, please.”)
10. Ask students to make a picture in their minds of Baba Yaga. Describe the character vividly so that the student can create a clear picture.
11. Instruct students that when you start counting, they are to “grow” into Baba Yaga, to show you what the picture in their brains looks like. Tell them they are to use their bodies and minds to create this villain. Tell them to begin growing on“1” and to freeze on “10”, so that you can “get a good look at them.”
12. Begin counting. If children exercise good creative effort and control, finish counting and say “Freeze.” Look carefully, commenting on their good work.
13. If students flounder, return them to the small ball and begin again. If students are excessively shy, ask them to keep their eyes shut until you say “10.”
14. Be sure to be encouraging, and not dictatorial as they create their witch characters Ask “Do I see iron teeth?… oh, is she really old?… Are your hands like Baba Yaga’s?… Your mouth?… Your legs?” Students will change as you point out various details. That’s fine as long as they are creating their own work, and not copying someone else’s characterization.
15. Now, invite each witch to step into her mortar, pick up her pestle and “Bump, bump, bump,” through the forest, chasing Misha. Remind students that they may touch NO ONE while traveling. Be firm about this, or you will have kids behaving in an unsafe manner.
16. Invite students to “Freeze!” Invite students to pretend they are almost ready to catch Misha when, suddenly, Misha throws the comb. “Oh, no! The thorny forest is growing up between you and Misha. Quick! Try and bite it down with your iron teeth!”
17. “I wonder what Baba Yaga would yell at Misha? Go ahead and tell Misha how mad you are at her! Show with your face and your voice how frustrated you are that she got away!” Encourage students to respond.
18. “Now Freeze! In some stories the witch is destroyed when she melts. When I say “go” you will silently melt into a big puddle, again, touching no one and nothing else but the floor. Ready, go. And meeelllt, meeellllt,and…mellllllllllt.”
19. Good. Please, silently, take three quick breaths through your mouth, and one out your mouth….Again…Again. You may sit up and go back to you seats.”
· Did students use their voices, minds, and bodies to create the Villain character?
· Were students able to correlate villains with their heroes, and participate in a discussion of comparison and contrast?
· Have students Name as many fictional heroes as they can, (Think fairy tales, folk tales, comic books, animated television and movies, live action television and movies.) then villains associated with them. Encourage students to name the ways and means the villains try to stop the heroes.
· While Baba Yaga stories are rather rare in the United States, in Eastern European literature, the Baba Yaga character is ubiquitous. Assign students to research other Baba Yaga tales.
· Ask students to write an ending to the story that has Baba Yaga give up her evil ways. Discuss how students feel about the ending. Is it satisfying? Will it be as fun to tell?
· Note: Be sure to assure very young children that there is no such thing as Baba Yaga. Make sure that in their dramatic play she is vanquished.