What is devising? It’s a process of playwriting as a group. Plays are created through improvisation, process dramas, and a lot of teamwork. The Devising Unit includes an overview to get you started, and 12 lessons jam-packed with activities.
This unit includes doing some basic Forum Theatre, which is a technique coined by Augusto Boal. It covers Process Drama in a variety of ways such as Hot Seating, Role on the Wall, and a fun exercise called “Character Bag”. There are also some great bonding games for your students to enjoy.
This unit is designed to show students (and teachers) that playwriting doesn’t have to be a solitary, lonely exercise. It can be a fun, sometimes chaotic, and very energetic experience.
The overview includes information on the unit, a list of the 12 lesson plans, materials needed, and unit goals, objectives, and assessment tools.
Students explore what makes a character interesting through the examination of physical objects. What do objects say about us? What can you infer about a person by the objects they carry with them? Students will role-play in process drama activities to explore characters and to create their own.
Students explore how body language can show a story (i.e. how someone is feeling, character traits, relationships between characters, etc.). The lesson culminates in students using a physical elliptical scene (a scene with just stage directions) and adding movements, gestures, and body language.
In this lesson, students will start their scene work first with a contentless scene, a one-minute scene, and then (for homework) write a one-page scene based on a real life experience.
In this lesson, students discuss and choose a topic for their devised piece.
In this lesson, students begin putting the pieces together for their devised work. Students brainstorm on their topic, then participate in a movement piece and a forum theatre activity to explore their topic.
In this lesson, students continue to build the play by writing and revising scenes, reading each other’s work, and providing feedback.
In this lesson, students will work in groups to create transitions in improvised tableaux and movement pieces. They will also participate in a “ren run” to practice improv blocking.
In this lesson students watch the Ren Run then discuss the topic of revision. What is the message of the play? How do the scenes communicate the message? Note: Depending on the amount of revisions your students feel the play needs, revising might take longer than one lesson. Feel free to add time, if need be.
In this lesson, students finalize casting, then start rehearsing. Focus the rehearsals on blocking. What is the necessary movement to communicate the content of the scene?
Students continue to rehearse. In this lesson, character development exercises deepen the students’ experiences and final products.
Students continue to rehearse. They also move on to the design phase of the project. The group will decide upon costuming and props for the performance. NOTE: Keep costumes and props simple. Black works well for costumes with colourful accents.
Students run the show before their performance. Pre- and post-show discussion questions are included as well as a post show reflection.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3 - Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.5 - Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
TH.912.C.1.2 - Create, refine, and sustain complex and believable characters for performance through the integration and application of artistic choices based on research, rehearsal, feedback, and refinement.
TH.912.S.1.4 - Compare the artistic content as described by playwrights, actors, designers, and/or directors with the final artistic product and assess the success of the final artistic product using established criteria.
TH.912.S.2.5 - Perform memorized theatrical literature in contrasting pieces to show ability to apply principles and structure, focus on details of performance, and processing skills to establish successful interpretation, expression, and believability.
Research, describe, interpret and evaluate how artists (dancers, actors, musicians, and visual artists) use processes, materials, movements, technologies, tools, techniques, and environments in the arts
Describe, interpret and evaluate how artists (dancers, actors, musicians, and visual artists) use processes, materials, movements, technologies, tools, techniques, and environments to create and communicate ideas
C.3.1 - identify and follow safe and ethical practices in drama activities (e.g., exhibit safe use of sound and lighting boards; follow procedures for the environmentally responsible use of materials and energy; prepare an individual or group seminar report on the nature and purpose of one or more of the following: copyright protection, royalties, public domain, intellectual property rights)
C.3.2 - identify and apply the skills and attitudes needed to perform various tasks and responsibilities in producing drama works (e.g., use active listening and cooperative problem-solving skills; practise punctuality; use tact in suggesting changes and improvements; demonstrate willingness to accept criticism and build consensus)
C.3.3 - demonstrate an understanding of theatre and audience etiquette, in both classroom and formal performance contexts (e.g., as a performer: show willingness to take direction and behave appropriately towards other actors; as a viewer: demonstrate respect for performers and other audience members by paying attention, not interrupting or talking, and applauding when appropriate)
C.1.2 - demonstrate an understanding of and use correct terminology to refer to the forms, elements, conventions, and techniques of drama, with a focus on ensemble drama works (e.g., chorus, protagonist, ingénue, supporting role, act, scene, climax, resolution, improvisation, mask, freeze-frame image)
C.1.3 - demonstrate an understanding of production roles, practices, and terminology when planning and presenting drama works (e.g., set design, costume design, lighting plot, light cue sheet, sound cue sheet, prompt book, set sketch, set model)
B.3.3 - identify connections between their learning in drama and possible employment opportunities in the broader educational and arts sectors (e.g., production and/or performance roles in community theatre, television/radio broadcasting, filmmaking)
B.2.3 - describe ways in which different types of dramatic exploration and drama presentations contribute to the school and broader community (e.g., list school productions, community theatre, professional theatre, street theatre, children’s theatre, or school-spirit assemblies they have attended, and describe how they and the audience benefited from the experience)
A.3.1 - identify and use a variety of techniques to influence the audience in specific ways (e.g., have actors enter the performance space from the audience to increase audience connection to the drama; use blocking to focus audience attention on key characters or relationships between characters)
A.3.2 - use a variety of voice and movement techniques to support the creation of character or atmosphere during rehearsal (e.g., use voice and movement to suggest an airport, circus, or factory environment)
A.2.1 - select and combine the elements of drama to achieve a variety of purposes in ensemble presentations (e.g., use the elements of character, time, and place in a drama about making a difficult choice; use the elements of time and place to clarify the focus in a drama about a historical event)
A.2.2 - use a variety of conventions to create a distinct voice that reflects a particular global, social, or personal perspective (e.g., use voices in the head, role on the wall, and hot seating to create a complex character from another region or country)
A.1.2 - select and use appropriate forms to present identified issues from a variety of perspectives (e.g., use a radio play, improvisation, or series of tableaux to present two opposing views about a political, social, or environmental issue)
A.1.3 - use role play and characterization to explore personal and social issues (e.g., with a partner, create or assume a role that explores an issue such as bullying; create a scenario that reveals details about a character’s motivation)