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Techniques and Ideas for Teaching Drama

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 3/28/2012

Teenagers love drama, but every time I read a play, they all fell asleep...until I used these techniques for teaching drama.

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    A Letter from Tibet

    I received this letter last week:

    Dear Teacher:

    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.

    Sincerely,

    Brad

    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.

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    Basic Knowledge

    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.
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    Strategies for Reading Drama

    1. Connect personal experiences to events in the drama (teachers can help by using good questioning techniques).
    2. Visualize the characters as you read stage directions.
    3. Evaluate characters' words and actions and determine what motivates them.
    4. Notice character changes.
    5. 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.
    6. Analyze monologues and soliloquies.
    7. Read the play aloud.
    8. Identify the setting.
    9. Evaluate how the setting affects the play's mood.
    10. Identify major and minor conflicts.

    Use these strategies in class discussion and journal entries to help students get the most out of their reading.