Jan. 25, 2021
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Anyone who has an interest in educational dram, or process drama, as it is sometimes known, will benefit from having a working knowledge of common strategies. There is very full description at David Farmer’s website: https://dramaresource.com/drama-strategies/. Most teachers however will get by with knowing these. Many of the following can be used in group work.
- Freeze frames are where the action is frozen and held for, say, 5 seconds. That can be developed into Thought Tracking, where the teacher goes around, taps a child on the shoulder and they speak their thoughts or describe the action as requested. Groups can also use a series of still images, each held for a count of 5, known as Image Theatre.
- Hints or Briefing Cards. This is a very rich and important strategy. This is where the teacher calls out all the people who are playing the role of, say, The Doctor and tells them to behave in a certain way to provoke thought and depth in the drama.
- Hot seating is where a student is put sitting in the ‘hot seat’ in role, and they answer questions from the other students in character. It’ useful for exploring motivation, building up a backstory, getting perspective. For an even richer experience, a variety of students can be hot seated in the same role. This will give a variety of perspectives. Ground roles will need to be made whether the second student’s responses can directly contradict those of the previous student. If students are allowed contradict each other, in the same role, the experience becomes shallower.
- Teacher in role is where the teacher becomes a character of the drama. They may act as the queen in Snow White, or Stanley’s mother in the novel, Holes. This can help move the drama on, develop different perspectives, or provide a springboard for an alternative retelling of the story. A teacher-in-role usually wears a signifier such as a cap, or cloak, or wand to highlight the fact they are in role. However if the teacher needs to remind Johnny-down-the-back that it’s not appropriate to shoulder Tommy in a lesson, they will remove the signifier before doing so.
- Narration is where the teacher tells the story. Soundscape is a development of this where the children make the sounds of the story. For example the narration stops and all the children make the sound of the wind. In truth it is a fancy name for something teachers have been doing for decades. I have devised the term Living Narrative for something else teachers have been doing for decades: the narrator narrates the story and the children do the actions silently. Usually the teacher will stop, make a signal and the action will start. Then after 30 seconds the action will stop after another signal and the narration will continue. This is done to great effect in the PDST drama ‘Lakeshore’, shown below, when the islanders are leaving the island.
- Conscience Alley David Farmer describes it like this: “One person (the teacher or a participant) walks between the lines as each member of the group speaks their advice. It can be organised so that those on one side give opposing advice to those on the other. When the character reaches the end of the alley, she makes her decision.”
Those strategies will be more than enough for most teachers.