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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.

"...meaningful and personally useful theatre activity is the right and prerogative of all people, enabling all to maximize the culture of their race, class, gender, age or ability" - Jonothan Neelands

    This was the third and final lesson done with the students. The lesson follows a similar style to the one before it, except that now it is based around the story of La Llorona (The Weeping Woman). La Llorona (not included for copyright reasons) is a common southwest tale of a woman who murders her children when she decides she can no longer afford to feed them and that they will be happier in heaven.

    Notice the beginning discussion where students are primed for handling serious material.

"Learning Improvisation"

Arizona Theatre Standard/Performance Objectives
1AT-F3. As a character, play out her/his wants by interacting with others, maintaining concentration, and contributing to the action of classroom improvisations (e.g., scenes based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature and history)
PO 1. Develop small group improvisations based on characters' wants and needs
PO 2. Interact in role with other characters in the improvisation
PO 3. Use an imaginative range of movement and dialogue that is appropriate to the characters within the improvisation

Objectives: Students will...:

  1. create and sustain characters in an improvised scene.
  2. Create and sustain dialogue as their character relating to other characters.
  3. Relate material from another culture to their own.
  4. Explore through drama solutions to a real problem.

A copy of the story La llorona (The Weeping Woman)


  1. Begin circle center, and review the procedures of Circle Center, Give Me Five, and Freeze. Review the school rules that are still in effect. What content is appropriate? Two rules, be respectful and follow directions.
  2. Review how we warm up for drama. Begin by stretching silently, stretching the arms and back, then moving from a tense body to relaxed. Roll the head from one shoulder down to the other, then warm up the face. Do a few quick tongue twisters. Write these on the board if necessary.
    a. Two tots stole twenty-two keys.
    b. She makes a proper cup of coffee in a copper coffee pot.
    c. Thick pick
    d. Toy boat
  3. Play 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. For the larger group play a game of Soundball to warm up vocally and physically.
  4. Review what has been talked about in drama. How do we express ourselves (body, voice)? Talk about where we see elements of drama in our daily lives, in acting with parents, teachers. Do we ever play characters? We talked about super heroes, now what about more serious characters? What sorts of attitudes are necessary in discussing serious themes?
  5. Talk about the student's studies of Latin America, and the types of things they have learned about. What parts of the cultures are similar to ours/different from ours? What sorts of stories are they familiar with? What myths? Talk about the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece, and Medea's actions


  1. Share the story of La llorona.
  2. Discuss how we have talked about characters and how they act, and that today we're going to get a chance to portray these characters. Explain the concept of Find Your Own Space (within the open area in the classroom, off of furniture and the floor, not touching each other). Ask them to find a space with one or two other students.
  3. In their current groups, tell the students to find a mundane task in the life of this woman. She might be buying something at a store, cleaning her house, talking to a neighbor, eating with her children. Agree on a common topic the characters might discuss on a day to day basis, and let students know they will be creating a short scene to share in front of the class. A scene has a beginning, middle, and end, and definite characters. Discuss that no props may be used, and they will need to imagine any items in their scene. Practice together all of the motions and actions associated with the scene.
  4. Seat the class on one side of the room, and remind them of being respectful towards each other's work. Let the students present their scenes. As each group goes, talk about what they did and what they portrayed.
  5. Compare the scenes just performed with the more serious elements of the story. Give students a moment to move apart and dim one of the light switches. Recall what fear is, and how we sometimes act when we're afraid or upset. What might cause a mother to murder her own children? What events could lead up to a mother making that decision? "Close your eyes, and think about the story. Relax your body - as I speak, begin to transform your body to match what I say. You're a very sad, tired woman. You work all the time, and your husband is never around. You care for three children as well as try to keep the house clean and do laundry for some of the White women across the border. You're very hungry, what's that like? Your children are starving in front of you…how can you help them?"
  6. Staying in character, turn and silently look at the person next to you. In one phrase, ask them for help. Tell them you need money to feed your children. At the same time, tell the person asking you for money 'no.' Sit down next to this river here. What will you do?
  7. Bring the lights back on and come back to Circle Center. Discuss the characters that were just created, and how they felt. We talked about being heroes, how was that different from Luisa?
  8. With the smaller class, create a forum theatre. Discuss how we are going to attempt to help Luisa find hope, even though her husband has abandoned her and the children. Brainstorm with the children who she might turn to for comfort. With a group of about 3 students, begin a dialogue over a meal about Luisa's situation. At any time, allow other students to freeze the situation and step in. Guide the students in finding a solution that does not involve begging or murder.
  9. With the larger class, play a game of Changing Channels. Break the class into groups of 3, and give them television genres to portray. Each group should portray some part of Luisa's life from the story in the style of their television show.


  1. Come back to Circle Center and discuss the characters of the story. Do people live today that are similar to Luisa? Do they deal with the same problems? What can those people do? Where can they find help (friends, teachers, agencies)?
  2. What was Luisa like? How were her actions dictated by the culture she lived in? Ask the students to review what was learned about drama and characters. Was it difficult to sustain serious emotion?
  3. When in our own lives do we behave in a similar manner? During the scenes, how did people express their meaning?
  4. After the students are dismissed, discuss with the administrators their feedback.

Additional Activities:
· Zip-Zap-Zop
· Gibberish Translators
· Mirrors
· Walking Game (Lesson 1)
· Yes, lets

    Notice this time the students are actually given the chance to work on their own improvisational activities. After only two sessions they had been exposed enough to being accepting the ideas we were giving them. The forum theatre at the end of the lesson was particularly effective, giving the students the chance to act, to offer ideas and solutions, and the chance to watch their classmates.

    So now you've had the chance to see the basics of classroom drama, read the research that backs it up, and viewed samples of how it might be done. Ready to try it on your own?

Click here to view web resources.

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