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Ideas, Plans, Themes for Drama Teaching May 23rd, Comments Off on Ideas, Plans, Themes for Drama Teaching After many years of drama teaching to British high school students Key StagesI have started to put together some of the ideas, themes, warm-ups, games, productions that I have worked through with students.
Some are articles published at Suite Some will be unique articles published here.
These are the Suite articles on drama teaching, so far: Using Masks as a Creative Teenage Drama Tool First published on Suite24 September The mask as a device to support teaching of theatre history, culture diversity and improvisation techniques in Key Stage 4 agesis second to none.
The mask is a versatile object.
For protection industry; fencingfor prevention infectionfor disguise or grotesque effect to amuse or terrifyfor replication humour, satire, identificationit has many forms.
It helps narrate tales, sets chilling scenarios, heightens comedy. Teenage girls often dislike some kinds of masks, notably clown faces and heads. Many of both sexes dislike the claustrophobia of masking, so a simple, symbolic mask on a stick serves some of the learning potential.
Masks for History Masks have been around for thousands of years, evidenced in wall paintings, pottery and ancient documents, often embedded deep in ritual. Studying Greek and Roman theatre history as origins of western tradition, for instance, is enhanced by simple masks.
Japanese Noh theatre masks are generally neutral in expression. Ancient Egyptians used mummy masks, with the death mask becoming a physical representation of the belief that the soul needed a safe journey into the afterlife. Similar cultural tradition is found in Ghana and Zambia.
They are widespread across the history of peoples in both North and South America. Theatrical links with religion are proved in most cultures, from Egyptians, Celts, Greeks, Slavs.
Both pagan and Christian roots are evident in many festivities. Halloween, witchcraft trials, Mardi Gras, Notting Hill Caribbean festival have easily accessible images for young people.
Character disguise or dramatic effect are fundamental to drama and a creative opportunity. A mask does not have to be thought to embody a spirit, but it will always transform the wearer, psychologically or in a spiritual sense. The impact on audience, either the class or a full one, is incalculable.
The shock that an Artaud style treatment gives a performance piece, is magnified if the group wear appropriate masks.
In simple terms, pose the questions: Why do we hide behind masks? Highwaymen and thieves, rapists, terrorists, kidnappers, the disfigured, the robotic, the psychologically disturbed, the clinically insane, Ku Klux Klan, executioners, purveyors of magic and dreams are all well served by masking.
Toby Wilshire of Trestle Theatre Company said: There is a difference between controlling the mask and being controlled by it. Students should grasp that. They have to work harder physically to convey expression and meaning when masks take away their facial and vocal communication.The mask is a versatile object.
For protection (industry; fencing), for prevention (infection), for disguise or grotesque effect (to amuse or terrify), for replication (humour, satire, identification), it has many forms.
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