Open Forum

Games to play during my Theatre History Unit

  • 1.  Games to play during my Theatre History Unit

    Posted 6 days ago
    New Student Teacher here!

    I am currently developing lessons for a high school Theatre 1 class over Theatre History. We are going to start off with Greek theatre and jump into a new unit that I have cheerfully titled, "Activism throughout Theatre History." I am trying to find games/activities to play with my students that can have some connection to the lessons we are learning. Engagement is low and cameras are usually off. Any suggestions would be amazing! :)

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    Natasha Cosme Batista
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  • 2.  RE: Games to play during my Theatre History Unit

    Posted 5 days ago

    Hi Natasha!

    zoom is really wearing on my students too. It's so hard as a teacher to be teaching without the feedback and nuance we usually get in a classroom. Let me just say: hang in there!

    1- Can I urge you to consider starting before Greek theater? The ancient Egyptians had passion plays about Osiris and Chinese theaters were erected long before "the first actor stepped out of the chorus in Greece". The idea that theater was born in Greece centers white colonialism. I think we, as a field, have to rethink this story. 


    2- as for games:

    - consider doing a seated warmup. Eye isolations head and neck rolls. Brain gym exercises with hands. I tell everyone cameras must be on for warmup. And then they can turn off if they need the break. We've all gotten so used to sitting and staring. Moving and breathing can change the energy. Even if it's a heavy lift the first few times. My students are now willing to do jumping Jacks and run in place every class. 


    - name pass has been really successful (not a connected game) say your name and the name of someone your passing to. Work for speed. Everyone unmutes. It's fine if the dog barks or dads meeting is bleeding through. Sidecoach speed and energy. If my class has a good rapport I'm even having us boo and admonish people who fall asleep at the switch (I always take the first boo)

    - versions of things like Ships and sailors work surprisingly well on zoom. Any kind of word based fallout prompt that triggers an action from the students. I use a version called yosemite in classroom. Both games can be adapted to a list of terms/names/eras. My strategy is to seed 5-10. Then as we learn more terminology I have kids add actions to the game to physically represent the thing they learned about. Some ideas:

         - tragedy (open frown like tragedy mask)
         - comedy (mime laughing)
         - Dionysus (hold a pencil in frame like a thyrsus)
         - Passion Play (hands together in prayer looking pious)
         - Shakespeare (pretend to write feverishly while making kissy faces at the camera)
         - Mask (hand in front of face
         - mime (classic box illusion)
    etc.

    I've also had great luck doing speed google rounds. Especially with kids off camera. Give them a term or event and the first person to define it in the chat correctly gets a point. You can then save the chat as a working set of definitions. This is especially effective if you have the ability to give a prize. My students will work surprisingly hard for a $10 chipotle gift card for the winner. 


    - two lies and a truth- in breakout rooms of 2-3 give students a theater history fact. Have them make up two believable lies. Have each group present on their statements and let students guess. If they fool them they get a point. If they don't the other teams get a point. 


    reach out if you want to brainstorm 



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    WT McRae
    Director of Theater
    Berkeley Carroll School
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  • 3.  RE: Games to play during my Theatre History Unit

    Posted 5 days ago
    Thank you so much! This all has been extremely helpful.

    I wanted to emphasize your first comment on Greek theatre centering white colonialism. In my efforts, I am trying to decolonize my classroom spaces as much as possible. I honestly had no clue that Greek theatre was in fact not the very first theatre. My experience, and the experience of most theatre students in the United States always begin with the Greeks.  My second unit as mentioned earlier goes into "Activism Throughout Theatre History." I specifically and intentionally chose three culturally diverse movements as they connect to my students demographics (most of my students are white, but I do have some other students who I wanted to reflect in the lessons); El Teatro Campesino and the United Farmworkers Movements, Nationalism and the Displacement of Syrian Communities, and Mao Zedong, The Cultural Revolution, and Propaganda: The Evolution of Chinese Theater Under the Communist Party.

    Do you have any resources/more recommendations on how to introduce something other than Greek theatre to my students? I initially have two weeks of Greek but I could definitely swap out the first week and introduce passion plays and the Chinese theatre. I am just having a hard time finding things online.

    You are awesome!

    Natasha

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    Natasha Cosme Batista
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  • 4.  RE: Games to play during my Theatre History Unit

    Posted 4 days ago
    I included Kabuki in my theatre history unit and I have used Everybody by Branden Jacobs Jenkins for a couple of years to supplement Everyman in our Medieval theatre conversations.  Everybody is a tremendous script that the students love and that really helps drive home the allegorical play form.  The language in that show is definitely on the mature side, but if your school and students' parents can deal with that it is a wonderful choice.  Branden is a Black, queer playwright so it's also a nice way to introduce a diverse voice.

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    Matthew Cahoon
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  • 5.  RE: Games to play during my Theatre History Unit

    Posted 5 days ago
    I had the exact same problem so I worked with our Technology Integration Specialist (yes, I realize how fortunate I am to be at a school with someone in that role) to adapt a Social Studies activity into something I could use to teach Theatre History.  You can find and feel free to use the documents related to this activity below.  My classes this semester are pretty big (two intro classes each over 20 students), but this activity is pretty easy to adjust to size.  In Zoom, I had the students work in pairs to complete the Playwright Profile Worksheet below.  Each pair was assigned a playwright to research.  Because the class is so large, I included playwrights from the Greeks all the way up through contemporary playwrights.  It is also worth noting that I made a particular effort this year to introduce my students to some unfamiliar voices so I emphasized female and BIPOC playwrights whenever possible.  After the students filled out the worksheet, I created two breakout rooms and split the pairs so that one member of each group ended up in one of the two breakout rooms.  That meant that I had one representative for each playwright in each of my two rooms.  Then the students used the attached google slideshow to set up the seating chart for a playwright dinner party.  The engagement was exceedingly high.  I was bouncing back and forth between the two breakout rooms and the students were very actively discussing and debating choices for how to set up the seating chart.  After about 30 minutes, I brought both groups back into the main room and each group presented their seating chart and justified their decisions.  It was an awesome and super engaging activity that made theatre history fun for my students.  I hope this helps.


    Playwright Profile Worksheet
    Playwright Dinner Party

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    Matthew Cahoon
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  • 6.  RE: Games to play during my Theatre History Unit

    Posted 5 days ago
    I love love these ideas! Especially emphasizing BIPOC and female voices. I have so many ideas running through my head,

    Thank you!!

    Natasha

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    Natasha Cosme Batista
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