Dramatizing Stories Through Improvisation and Drama

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Choose a Story

Different theater groups and drama classes have different themes. A drama youth group may choose a story or stories with religious meaning, such as Torah portions or Jesus' parables. Another group may want to dramatize specific historical events. Yet another may choose to put their own take on a specific culture’s folk tales. Regardless of whether you are teaching drama after school or at a themed camp, you must be prepared for this day.

Your students will know ahead of time that this day is coming because you will have told them! You, the teacher, must have a collection of appropriate stories handy to consider with your students. If you are not prepared to do this, then you will need to arrange a field trip to the library to find the type of story they are looking for.

Once the story or group of shorter tales is chosen, the real fun and work begins.

Improvising on a Theme

Let the students take the time to improvise and act out the various “scenes” of the story. They will most likely come up with new ideas as they work through it multiple times.

You, the teacher and also the director, must takes notes on the different ways they try things and offer your feedback as to what you think works best. Help them with their blocking: Remind them to play to the audience, help them use the whole stage, and make sure they have the things that they seem to need. For example, some chairs might come in handy, or a certain character might need a cape, or maybe somebody could use a prop like a pretend sword.

To a Polished Performance

It is also your job to write down the script as it develops.

The script will become the actual script of the performance, and your students will transition from improvisation to rehearsing scenes with your help and direction.

This is the time to treat the project as if it were a rehearsal for any other play. Blocking, props, costumes, and any other technical considerations will need to be prepared.

Your students are now ready to perform their play, a play they helped develop. Congratulations!

This post is part of the series: Dramatizing Stories

Series of lesson plans that prepare students to improvise and develop a story into a dramatic performance.

  1. Drama Games and Activities: Day One Stand Still
  2. Group Movement Games: Circle Walk & Free Walk
  3. Drama Class: Three Activities to Get Students Moving Naturally
  4. Pantomime Improvisations: Classroom Drama Game
  5. Teach Drama Students to Improve Their Improvisation Skills Using These Scenario Ideas
  6. Your Creative Writing Class: Dramatizing a Story