EXERCISE IN EVOLUTION
Before beginning the following exercise, work together with students to creatively chart an example of a dramatic journey inspired by the picture by identifying the components above. Be sure that multiple students have a chance to help shape the story.
Now the students should have an opportunity to create their own stories. Explain that no matter what the initial inspiration for their plays, it’s important—and most rewarding—to be open to the not-necessarily-so-obvious possibilities as to who their characters are and how their stories may evolve.
1. Distribute (ideally a diverse lot including fine art or photography) magazines and slips of paper. Then pass around scissors and a stapler. Ask students to take 1-2 minutes to select an image with which they identify from their magazine and clip it. (The clippings shouldn’t be pictures of any celebrities familiar to the students.) Then have the students write down in two or three sentences on the separate slip of paper what they perceive as the sense of stability within that picture and what they imagine would be an example of interference upon that stability. Have them staple the slip of paper to the picture. When that is finished, collect the magazines as well as the clippings in a collection hat.
2. Then, because theatre at its best is not self-centered and rather a generous art form that celebrates and invites shared experiences, redistribute the clippings randomly, making sure that everyone gets a clipping other than their own. (Clippings may not be shared at any other time during the exercise, unless prompted by specific instructions.) Then ask the students to look over their new pictures and consider the stability and interference previously identified by their peers. Have them continue the story by adding to the slip of paper what might be the obstacle and the conflict as they imagine it. They should remember that inherent in the conflict is the “want" of one or more characters. Collect the clippings in the hat.
3. Next, redistribute the clippings one final time, attempting to ensure that every student has a new picture (make sure they don’t read the slips of paper when determining whether or not they’ve seen it before). Ask students to conclude the story by offering a means of reestablishing a sense of stability. Then have those students present orally to the class, one by one, the picture they have and the corresponding story.