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Creative Drama in the Traditional Classroom  



- Original Welcome
- Introduction
- Why Drama?
- Drama and Development
- The Basics
- Example Lesson
- Second Example
- Bibliography


Please read this first: These research pages represent work that was done in 2002 as a defense of theater in an educational environment. The research became the original primary draw for this website. All of the pages are presented in their original form, and are best read in order starting with this page.

"Our aims are helping children to understand, so that...they are helped to face facts and to interpret them without prejudice; so that they develop a range and degree of identification with other people; so that they develop a set of principles, a set of consistent principles, by which they are going to live." - Gavin Bolton

     So now that we've covered the basics, lets take a look at how we can actually apply the ideas covered on this website to a class lesson. Below is a lesson plan I created for a group of students at a second-chance school. Most of the students had been referred to this school because of behavioral problems, and had little to no background in dramatic arts. This session also took place the week after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the students were discussing daily events that they saw in the news.

     There were two goals in writing this lesson. First, to give the students a basic idea of aspects of theatre. The second was to explore their feelings and themes surrounding the events of September 11.

     This plan is by no means perfect, but does provide an example of how to go about structuring your own drama lesson plans. This was the first activity with this class, so the content is very basic and went step by step. Lesson time is roughly an hour, with extra activities provided in case extra time was needed.

"Tableau in Our Daily Lives"

Arizona Theatre Standard/Performance Objectives
1AT-E2. Demonstrate mental and physical attributes (e.g., concentration, sense recall, and ability to remember lines and cues; breath and vocal control, body alignment, flexibility, and coordination) required to communicate characters different from themselves
PO 1. Concentrate as a character portraying simple identified role characteristics
PO 4. Use simple range of movement to differentiate one character from another


  1. Students will explain how we use our bodies in theatre to convey information.
  2. Students will explain when in their daily lives they are using elements of drama.
  3. Students will describe how formal drama can be used to express feelings about world events.


  1. Begin the class with the students seated at desks. Begin to talk about drama, what forms they are familiar with, and what sorts of terms are associated with drama.
  2. Ask the students to move the desks back to create a working space in the center of the room. Bring them back to circle center.
  3. Discuss the school rules that are still in effect throughout the sessions. Introduce the idea of Circle Center, and rehearse coming back to center. Talk about finding your own space, freeze, and Give Me Five. Ask the students to take a moment to tell the person next to them about their favorite movie or play, then practice coming back together.
  4. Explain what a warm up activity is, and how it helps an actor prepare to move around. Begin the movement activity with students walking around the room silently. When the teacher claps, quickly change direction either 90º or 180º. When the teacher calls out a number, change the speed of your movement from 1 being the slowest to 10 being the fastest. When the teacher calls out a height, change your height to match what they say (high, middle, low).
  5. In pairs, play a quick game of mirroring. Students should decide who goes first, and the second person follows the first. After a few minutes, switch roles. Finish and circle center, seated.


  1. In the circle, discuss what tableau is. Talk about the types of images we might see looking at a typical moment in life. What values can we express with our bodies? What emotions? What attitudes? Working with the team teacher, possibly model some of these. What might an angry person look like? Someone in love?
  2. Ask the students to find their own space, and then to find a partner. In place, all pairs working simultaneously, have the students begin to form two person tableaus. When forming these, students should think about what each scene means to them. During these, allow half the room to break the pose and see what the other half is doing.
    a. Two people holding a newborn baby
    b. Business partners concluding a deal
    c. A romantic relationship breaking up
    d. Two people who don't like each other passing on the street
    e. Long lost friends meeting after many years
  3. Come back to Circle Center to discuss the images that were seen. What images stand out the strongest? What elements were effective? How did people convey emotion with their bodies?
  4. Now ask the students to break out again and work in the same pairs. This time have one student create a tableau of their own. Their partner creates an image to match the first one, building off of it. The first person then matches the second one, and so on.
  5. Circle Center, and discuss briefly what was seen and what it was like to respond to each other. Begin the discussion about the World Trade center. What were images that were seen on TV? What were images in the newspaper, seen around town, etc.? Examples include people running from the building, medical personnel treating people on the sidewalk, reporters hiding behind a car.
  6. Break out again into pairs. Create some of these images, and freeze letting the groups look around.
  7. Have everyone relax and bring two volunteers into the center. Ask the rest of the class to mold them into a pair of people at the time of the attack. Student images should relate to the pair around them, so they are adding on to the existing scene. Creating a timeline around the central pair, form other images, some before the attacks and some after. Move all of the images into one composed image, and give students time to see their work.
  8. Come back to Circle Center, finish with a game of Scene Freeze. Two volunteers begin a simple scene. At any time a member of the audience may come in and say, "freeze," tag one person out, and change the scene.
  9. (OR) Finish with a game of What Are You Doing. One person asks the other what they're doing, and then must do what the person they asked said. Partners should then switch roles.

Reflection and Assessment

  1. At the final dialogue discuss what steps the country might take next, other than war. How will daily life change? How could we have portrayed this?
  2. What sorts of things did we see today through movement?
  3. How did body position, posture, and expression create these images?
  4. Are these elements we see in our daily lives? When do we create images with our bodies?
  5. After the students are dismissed, discuss with the administrators their impressions.

Additional Ideas

  1. During step number 6, create images before and after the event. Have each pair create one of each, and move back and forth between the two images. Do this with the entire group.
  2. Work movements into the images. As students create images of events the day of the attack, ask them to think of a simple repetitious movement they can sustain. Have each group perform these together to create one image.
  3. After groups have created the timeline, allow them to come forward one at a time and silently, present their image, and step back for the next group.

Game Ideas
· Zip Zap Zop
· 1-2-3
· Gibberish Translators
· Changing Channels

      Wondering how it worked? The lesson was performed with two groups, one junior high and one high school. The junior high group had about 16 students, and had a very difficult time with any activity that was remotely unstructured. They were unwilling to make creative choices on their own, and required a great deal of side coaching from the teachers. They were however quite responsive to the discussion questions and games. The second group was 6 high school students, and they did very well with most of the activities. Both groups were very limited in their creative expression.

Click here to view the last lesson of the project.


Creative Teaching through Drama
Questions? Comments? Contact me.
Last Updated July 3, 2007