Creating a Historical SettingStudents analyze and evaluate how production elements can create a historical setting.
- Length: 50-60 minutes
- Students will analyze their own and others artistic products and performances.
- Students will explain how technical elements can re-create a different period in history.
Found On: Performance Excerpts
Video Length: 00:06:29
Vocabularycharacter, climax, costume, falling action, lighting, literary elements, makeup, motivation, props, resolution, rising action, sound, scenery, set, technical elements
TV/VCR or DVD player
Optional: summary of story, graphic organizers
Instructional Strategies and Activities
For another look at how the technical and performance elements can transport the viewer to another time and place, consider using the Heartbreak House: Rehearsal to Performance excerpt on the About Drama video/DVD. That excerpt focuses on the George Bernard Shaw play Heartbreak House and includes the director and actors preparing a scene and discussing how they developed their characters. The actors talk candidly about the costumes from the period and how they had to think about what was happening in the world during the time period in which the play is set.
Lesson Note: This segment can be used as a review of the critical vocabulary listed or as an introduction to it. The lesson also lends itself to adaptation by the individual teacher to meet his/her needs, including shortening the lesson and teaching only part of it.
Review or introduce the critical vocabulary for the lesson. You may want to write terms on an overhead, refer to previous class notes, or give each student a graphic organizer to take notes on as each term is discussed. Depending on whether your students are familiar with the Frankenstein story, you also may want to provide them with a summary of the story before they watch the segment in order to help them better understand the motivations of the characters.
Introduce the excerpt. Explain that students will see an excerpt from Stage Ones production of the play Frankenstein (this scene runs from the climax to the resolution). Let them know that they are to pay attention to the role the technical elements play in the piece (have them look at it from a historical perspective, identify what is learned about the characters based on their makeup and costumes, and analyze how lights and sound help create the environment and mood), identify the exact moment the climax begins as well as the falling action and resolution, and analyze the reasons why Victor kills himself with his creation. You may want to allow students to work in groups and assign only one concept per group, asking them to pay attention and be prepared to discuss.
Watch and discuss. After watching the segment, if you opted for the group activity, allow students a few minutes to discuss with the members of their group what they observed before discussing the segment as a class.
Suggested discussion questions:
Have students identify the climax, falling action, and resolution:
- Climax: knocking and acknowledgment of noise on stairs
- Falling action: all the events leading to Victor killing himself and his creation
- Resolution: Victor asking for forgiveness and killing himself and his creation
Focus on the technical elements:
- Ask students what they discovered about the characters by looking at their costumes. Accept appropriate answers (e.g., it is nighttime, they are upper-class, they live in the past, etc.).
- Have students identify how the setting reflects a different time, the social status of the characters, and the environment.
- Ask students whether they thought Frankensteins makeup was believable. Explain to them that he is pieced together from dead body parts and was created in a lab. Some may not accept his makeup because of preconceived ideas about what he should look like (from pictures they have seen, movies about Frankenstein they have watched, etc.). If you havent already explained the collaborative process, this would be a good time to discuss it. If you have, remind students that a production is the result of a collaborative effort among designers and the director. The director has the vision of how he/she wants the play to come to life and works with the designers to achieve this vision. Frankensteins makeup is a result of the vision of this particular director and his/her collaboration with the makeup artist.
- Discuss with students how sound was used to create the environment and affect the mood. Points to discuss include how the storm escalates as the tension in the action mounts and how the sad, weepy music during Elizabeths ending monologue reflects the pain and heartache of her loss.
- Have students explain how the lights played a role in creating the environment. Accept appropriate answers (e.g., the bedroom scene in the opening section was cheerful, and the lights were brighter in that area of the stage; in the lab, the lights were dimmer, possibly because there was no natural light in the basement or to hide the hideous features of Frankenstein; the lightning illuminated tense moments).
Discuss with students the motivation behind Victors suicide. Possibilities include that he felt responsible for the murders Frankenstein committed, that he wanted to be forgiven for creating life, that he loved Elizabeth so much he was willing to die for her, etc.
Review lesson. Allow students to express any other thoughts they have about the segment.
Strategies to engage diverse learners:
- Read a synopsis or summary of the story.
- Read a shortened version of the play.
- Talk students through the video, discussing it as you go.
- Watch the segment more than once.
Support • Connections • Resources
Resource books for teachers:
- Five Easy-To-Read Plays Based on Classic Stories (fully reproducible, for grades 5 and up). Scholastic Professional Books. ISBN 0439-04415-4.
- Kramme, Michael. Theatre Through the Ages (grades 5-8+). Mark Twain Media/Carson-Dellosa Publishing Co.
- Schanker, Harry H. and Katherine Anne Ommanney. The Stage and School. Glencoe McGraw-Hill Publishers.
Extensions for Diverse Learners
- Produce/perform a short story that has been adapted into a play. Have students design and build sets, costumes, etc.
Writing To Communicate
- Literary: Adapt a short story into a play or monologue.
- Transactive: Write an editorial or feature article on human cloning or a persons right to die if he or she is on a life-support system.
Applications Across the Curriculum
- Read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, or other works that are set in different times and places.
- Study the origins of humankind.
- Conduct a cultural study of people who lived in different places, times, and locations.
- Debate the issue of human cloning.
- Shadow a doctor for a day.
Open Response Assessment
Prompt: You are going to be a designer for an adaptation of a short story that takes place during another time and in another country or state.
- Identify the story that is being adapted.
- Identity and describe what you will be designing (e.g., lights, costumes, set, etc.) and explain how you plan to re-create what it was like for the characters during that time.
Open Response Scoring Guide
|Student demonstrates extensive knowledge of the elements of drama and historical/cultural context and applies this knowledge consistently and effectively. Student communicates this knowledge and understanding effectively, with insightful use of supporting examples and/or details.||Student demonstrates broad knowledge of the elements of drama and historical/cultural context and applies this knowledge effectively. Student communicates this knowledge and understanding effectively, using supporting examples and/or details.||Student demonstrates basic knowledge of elements of drama and historical/cultural context and makes some correct application of this knowledge. Student communicates this knowledge and understanding using some supporting examples and/or details.||Student demonstrates limited knowledge of elements of drama and historical/cultural context and makes inappropriate or underdeveloped application of this knowledge. Student communicates this knowledge ineffectively, with few or no supporting examples and/or details.||Student offers blank or irrelevant response.|
Performance Event: You have been chosen to design the lights, sound, costumes, or set for an upcoming show that is an adaptation of one of Edgar Allan Poes short stories.
- Identify the story and the technical element you will be working on.
- Draw up a plan of action that includes a written explanation of how you will create the technical element youve selected and one of the following:
- Costume: Create a sketch of one of the costumes you want to create, or build one.
- Set: Build a model of the set design you plan to use.
- Lights: Create a lighting plot.
- Sound: Create a tape or CD of the sounds/music you will use.
Performance Scoring Guide
|Student completes assignment effectively, exhibiting extensive understanding of the technical elements of drama. Student demonstrates extensive critical thinking skills and creativity in completing the assignment. Student completes all aspects of the task in an incisive and thorough manner.||Student completes the assignment effectively, exhibiting broad understanding of the technical elements of drama. Student demonstrates broad critical thinking skills and creativity in completing the assignment. Student successfully completes all aspects of the task.||Student completes assignment, exhibiting basic understanding of the technical elements of drama. Student demonstrates basic use of critical thinking skills and creativity in completing the assignment. Student partially completes the task and/or is unsuccessful in attempts to address some parts of the task.||Student works on assignment, exhibiting minimal understanding of technical elements of drama. Student makes little or no use of critical thinking skills and creativity in completing the assignment. Student minimally completes the task or is largely unsuccessful in completing the task.||Student shows little or no evidence of having attempted to complete the task.|
- 2.23: Students analyze their own and others artistic products and performances.
- 2.24: Students appreciate creativity and the value of the arts and humanities.
- 2.25: Through their productions and performances or interpretations, students show an understanding of the influence of time, personality, and society on the arts and humanities.
- 2.26: Students recognize differences and commonalities in the human experience through their productions, performances, and interpretations.
Program of Studies:
- Students apply knowledge and skills of elements of production (sets, lighting, costume, sound, spectacle) to interpret dramatic works.
- Students describe how playwrights, directors, actors, and stage technicians employ elements of production and performance to create and perform dramatic works (e.g., formal theater, film, television), to express ideas and emotions, and to achieve a desired effect or response from audiences.
Core Content for Assessment:
- AH-HS-1.3.1: Students will analyze or evaluate the use of technical elements, literary elements, and performance elements in a variety of dramatic works.
- AH-HS-2.3.1: Students will analyze or evaluate how factors such as time, place, and ideas are reflected in drama.
- AH-HS-4.3.1: Students will create and perform using elements of drama (literary, technical, performance).