Theatrical Arguments: Pursuing Objectives, Communication, and Conflict

Created by Rachel Atkins

In this middle school unit by Rachel Atkins, students will explore how to strengthen a theatrical argument through objectives, communication, and conflict: What characters do, what they say, and how they say it when they make an argument or try to achieve an objective. To do this, students will use tableaux, dialogue, and improv. There are presentations and post-lesson writing assignments that you can use for assessment.

How do characters, actors and writers use a variety of actions to achieve an objective or support an argument? How do they enhance their communication by word choice and emotion? How do they develop and strengthen their own arguments by understanding other points of view?

The overview includes the goals of the unit and provides an outline for each of the three lessons.
1: Persuasive Actions & Objectives
In this lesson, students explore character objectives: They will use facial expression and physical gestures to make statues of different actions that characters might take to get what they want. Students will work with a partner to create tableaux (frozen stage pictures) to show a specific action and response. They will write an argument in which they identify a specific action – and then support that claim with evidence from the statues and tableaux.
2: Persuasive Actions With Vocal Expression
In this lesson, students explore word choice, emotion, and vocal expression in communication. They will select an objective or argument and actions to support it. They will write lines of dialogue to match different actions. They will choose an emotion that correspond with the line and action, and practice speaking their lines with emotion and vocal expression. Finally, they will write an argument explaining how a line expresses a specific action – and support it with evidence.
3: Improvised Arguments
In this final lesson, students explore two different characters whose opposing points of view or arguments create a conflict. They will identify the objectives or arguments for each character. They will act out a scene between those two characters multiple times, playing both characters. Finally, they will write an argument from one character’s point of view – and support it with evidence.

Standards Addressed

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