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Activity Five

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Summary of Activities

For this course, you will need to keep a workbook. This can be either a specific notebook devoted to this course, or, preferably, you can keep your workbook on a computer. The following are the specific workbook entries, arranged by section:


Theatre in Life Activities

Theatre in Life   ::   Living Theatre   ::   Performance   ::   Activities

In two or three sentences, describe how you communicate differently with a parent as opposed to a friend. Why are there differences? Are you "performing"? Are you "acting"? Why or why not?

In a sentence or two, describe what other, socially and culturally “ better” performance choices might be made with your child if you were in the situation described above. It is true that some of these performances may be difficult and some may require some “practice,” but go ahead and make some better choices. Remember: deep down you are an actor—which parts of your personality will you bring out for this situation? What will your script or text be? How much work will it take to change this script?

Briefly describe a ritual that you have experienced or watched. Describe the arts of theatre involved including: acting (special ways of behaving), language (or script/text), the space in which it takes place, costumes, and special effects. Also indicate which of the preceding functions of ritual are involved.

Describe how you would construct a ritual to assist with ONE of the following situations. Remember to inclulde theatre elements such as costume, script, acting, directing, and environments.

  • Your daughter was potty trained quite some time ago. Now that she is older, she still has a lot of accidents. She is just lazy, you have discovered, and doesn't want to take the time to "go" when she should. As a parent, can you craft a ritual or ceremony involving your family that will help her become a member of the "no accidents" segment of society? How will you use the arts of theatre to help you? Make sure your description is of a ritual or ceremony (a sticker chart, for example is NOT a ritual or ceremony--the "putting the sticker on the chart" or the celebration of success afterward, however, can be).
  • As a business leader, you are responsible for the long term success of your business. A project has arisen that has required you to bring two groups together that had previously been working in isolation. However, you notice that there is a bit of strife between the former two groups as to how things should operate and even the basic paradigms of how the company's objectives should be met. Can you craft a ritual or ceremony involving this group that will help them to think more as a team and combine efforts more efficiently? Make sure your description is of a ritual or ceremony (a wilderness experience, for example is NOT a ritual or ceremony, though it may contain them).

Write a one page narrative description of a cultural performance or ritual in which you have participated, using the six Elements of Performance as your guide. This could be a family get-together during the holiday season, a church ritual, a wedding, a graduation or any other ritual. Make sure you include all of the elements below:

  • Element #1: The Whole Performance Sequence
  • Element #2: Tranformation of Being
  • Element #3: Intensity of Performance
  • Element #4: Teaching and Learning of Performance
  • Element #5: Audience/Performer Interactions
  • Element #6: Evaluations of Performances


Huh? Theatre: The Basics Activities

Part 1   ::   Part 2   ::   Activities

Pretend that you are at the mall and you see a really good looking guy/gal that you want to go out with. There is your context. Now describe the rest of your performance using the other elements of theatre. How will you alter them to achieve your desired goals? (A short paragraph is sufficient).

Imagine yourself as the protagonist of a Tragedy. In what ways are you noble? What is your hamartia that causes your reversal? What monumental task do you accomplish despite the odds or despite fate? Using whatever art media you desire, use a page in your workbook to make a poster for your Tragic Play. Give it a title, and indicate with pithy buzz-words how you are noble, your hamartia, and suggest the monumental task your character will perform in the play. Also indicate a hypothetical place, time, ticket prices for the performance. Your poster to begin to stimulate a sense of katharsis in us.

Write your own very short (1 page) play scene that is either a comedy of manners or a satire. 1 page is about how long it will take to get one or two really good jokes in. Have no more than three characters, or you'll get bogged down. Please indicate which of the two types of comedy you are writing. This is a play, and so will look in format like The Importance of Being Earnest. It is NOT a story or poem. Make sure that you include a character's name, the dialogue he or she speaks, and any stage directions needed.

Note an example either from TV, film, a play or from real life each of the above reasons we laugh. If you laugh at something, note where it fits. Give one example for each of the above descriptions.

Write a story outline for a dramatic plot in five sentences.

List and describe 5 stock characters with which you are familiar. They can be from movies, TV, plays, or even video games. Remember, they should be similar in nearly everything in which they appear. Briefly describe these familiar attributes.

List one 3 dimensional character, and describe him or her in detail—make sure you explain why you feel this character is 3 dimensional.

Using your best educated guess from the information above, write a short paragraph describing why your instructor (me!) does not like the word "theme" very much, though he is forced to use it himself quite often. Go ahead and take your best guess! Then explain whether you agree or disagree with him.

Take the following common and benign statement, and make it poetic by using more lyrical or poetic diction. Romeo took, "Dude, she's a babe!" and made it into "What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!" Show me what you can do with this sentence!:"My midterm exam really sucked."

There are some who say that with the rise of spectacle in theatre, the literary and other artistic qualities go down. Why would this be? Is it true? Can the two co-exist? Write your own opinion in a short paragraph. (Incidentally, as one studies theatre history, this has often proved to be true—but not always).


The Performing Arts of Theatre Activities

Acting   ::   Director   ::   Activities

Imagine that you are in a spooky museum at night where all the mummies are. It is dark. Write a short paragraph description of this virtual space. Make it come to life for yourself! See as an actor must see! Vividly and in great detail!

Here is your task. You'll need to get a partner for this. Perform ONE of the following sentences, and make sure your partner can understand and see EXACTLY what you are talking about by the use of your body. You'll have to practice this at least 10 times before you can effectively communicate these images.

"Slowly, deliberately, the axe murder reached for another paper towel."

"As the snowflake gently landed onto her outstretched finger, it was magically transformed into a crystal sphere of water.

Record in your workbook how effective you think you were at communicating these images. Interview your partner. Did your partner find that your performance was effective? Describe in a short paragraph the things you did with your body to be effective.

In a short paragraph, describe a recent play or film in which you thought a character was believable. Please select a character played by an actor you've seen in a different film or play. Try to determine what skills, manifestations, tools, ways, etc. this actor uses to be believable.

In your workbook, describe what kind of an actor you are. To do this, think back on the activities from earlier acting explorations done for this class (MIND, BODY, VOICE). Did it feel more natural to visualize first, then let these images influence the body and voice, or was it more natural to do a gesture first, then fill in with an image? Or did you kind of find yourself doing both at the same time.

In this class, we are trying to connect the arts of theatre with real life and living. In our normal lives, what approach to acting do we take: Internal or External? If you can remember my story about how I wanted a pug (in Acting: Part 1), what approach did I take then? When saying "I love you" for the first time to your boyfriend/girlfriend, what approach do human generally take? Write a short paragraph explaining your position.

Imagine yourself as one of the characters in any of the plays you have read (or viewed) so far. Now, in one short paragraph, describe "your" bedroom, wallet, purse or other personal space from the perspective of that character (so as Hamlet, describe Hamlet's room). It is messy? Neat? What kinds of things are found? This is one way in which actors can begin to access character.

Now note clues from the play that inform you of this character's perspectives. How do you know he or she is messy or neat? How do you know what artifacts are found there?

Write your own director's concept for Oedipus the King and post it to the class discussion group (click on "Discussion Group" in the bar on the left). Be sure to include all six of the director's concept elements described above to one degree or another, and remember that you are NOT the set designer or costume designer or actors, so see if you can give clues rather than mandates. You will probably also want to include some of the concepts of Tragedy discussed in that lesson.

One way to start is to simply write the three or four most evocative words or phrases you can think of to describe the feel of how you want the play to look. Let these words guide you as you begin your descriptions. You can approach each of the seven elements in this way, finally linking them together in a nice paragraph. Please pay attention to grammar and punctuation!


The Literary Arts of Theatre Activities

Playwrite   ::   Dramaturgy   ::   Write   ::   Sample   ::   Activities

List a few elements that make a story interesting, engaging and gripping!

Write five lines in your notebook to be filled in. You may want to label them "Sentence #1," "Sentence #2" and so on. You will be creating sentences for each of the five lines as this reading progresses. This will be the basic story plot for your play.

Do one of the following:

OPTION 1) write program notes for a program for Death of a Salesman. In your notes, guide the audience toward various themes of the play without actually revealing any outright. Your notes should discuss most of the following and should use these elements to enhance the audience's understanding and enjoyment of the play:

  1. The history of the play
  2. It's relevance as a true Tragedy
  3. Playwright information
  4. The world of the play
  5. The themes of the play

OPTION 2) Make a pictoral collage of materials that would benefit the actors and designers of the play. You may use pictures, quotations, drawings, etc. to give the actors ideas as to the world of the play, playwright, themes, and history.


The Design Arts of Theatre Activities

Introduction   ::   Scenic   ::   Costume   ::   Lighting   ::   Activities

The Costume Designer

Part 1

Here's a quick quiz! Well, not a quiz really, but take a look:
Tell me everything you can decipher about this character in terms of:

  1. Occupation
  2. Personality
  3. Social Class
  4. Age
  5. Cultural Customs & Manners
  6. Where she is from

The Costume Designer

Part 2

Try it again, but with this character:
In your workbook, tell me everything you can about the following character, specifically:

  • His age (or change of age)
  • Occupation
  • Personality
  • Where he lives or where he's from
  • Social Class
  • Cultural Customs & Manners

Additionally (or inversely), what information do we get from:

  • Color
  • Silhouette
  • Line & form
  • Texture

Design Assignment

First, read the short play, The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco. It is a weird play (funny, but weird), just to warn you. (This play is also read for a few of the lessons in the Theatre History unit). Then do the following:

  • Research the following items that may or may not appear in the play. Make sure they are from the same time period of the play!:
  1. Hat
  2. Coat or jacket
  3. Shoes
  4. Purse
  5. Necktie
  6. Window treatment (curtains, etc.)
  7. Chair
  8. Floor (tile, rug, carpet, etc.)
  9. Sofa or couch
  10. Lamp

Find examples of these items and either trace, draw or photocopy them onto a piece of paper. This is the kind of basic research that designers do.

  • Design one costume for one of the characters of The Bald Soprano. This is simply a tracing or drawing of the character's clothes as he/she wears it (since I can't draw human figures, I usually trace and then change the drawing as needed). If the character wears more than one costume, only design one. Please note AND DEFEND your choices of styles and colors in a short paragraph. Your defense could include a discussion of the period, the personality of the character, and/or any of the other elements of costume that you feel is relevant.
  • Make a rendering of the stage set (this is just a drawing) for one of the scenes of the play. Please use crayons to do this. If you can't draw, sorry (try tracing difficult parts). Do it anyway. I won't grade on artwork, only on neatness and the effort you expended in LEARNING and defending your choices. Please note AND DEFEND your choices of styles and colors in a short paragraph. Your defense could include a discussion of the period, the personality of the characters, and/or any of the other elements of scenic design that you feel is relevant.


Theatre History Activities

Part 1   ::   Part 2   ::   Part 3   ::   Activities

In the 1980s, a famous avant garde theatre director adapted a different play of Sophocles about Oedipus the King to a more modern, and he felt, appropriate type of drama: a gospel musical. He felt that gospel music, though clearly not what the ancient Greeks listened to, was still equivalent in terms of the desired effect on the audience that the ancient Greek playwrights desired and that ancient Greek audiences experienced. What you do think? Is Gospel at Colonus similar in effect to ancient Greek plays? List some reasons pro and con and then select one or the other and defend your position. This should only take a paragraph or two.

Write a 2 page newspaper article (about 1800-2000 words) about the opening of the play by Shakespeare that you viewed or read for the London Times. Write it as if your article will be published during Shakespeare's lifetime. Make references to the play's themes and how they apply to the "current" times (Elizabethan times). Describe the event in terms of theme, plot, character, audience, acting, the quality of the play, scenography, etc. You may have to make up some of the details, but it should read as if your article was written 400 years ago (or so).

With the advent of Realism came changes to the ways theatre stages were built and the stagecraft of theatre itself. Research some of these changes and describe in a few sentences at least three changes to Romantic theatres or their stage craft (lights, costumes, props, etc.). Please site your sources.

Invent your own 'Ism!' What do you think? Research the above concepts a bit further and form an opinion of your own. What is the best way to present the truth to an audience? Emotion? Observation? Cultural myths? Dreams? Subconcious thoughts? Write a paragraph that describes your position. Call it some kind of ism, based on what concepts you use. No wrong answer here, but make sure you build your argument.

See if you can spot some alienation effects! If you've seen a play already, note three or four alienation effects that you noticed. If you still have to see a play or two (or five), note them as you see them. Let me know whether or not they worked as Brecht intended, or if they have just become part of theatre convention and is something that just happens in theatre now.

How do you think postmodernists feel about Aristotle and his six elements of theatre? Write a short paragraph defending your answer.

Copyright 2008, David Sidwell. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, October 05). Activity Five. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License