Lights. Camera. Action! During Dive in and Discover week at Keys, our “Performing Arts” group will explore all facets of theatre, including acting, dancing, costume design, stage make up. Students are using their imagination and step outside of their comfort zones to bring characters and stories to life.
Students began this week learning about the history of theatre, exploring different genres, such as classical theatre, musical theatre, medieval plays, puppet shows, and modern theatre. After a period of exploration, students started work on a performance of The Wizard of Oz. To put on this performance students had to explore every level of theatre, such as how to read a script, casting a show, and how to best express different emotions on stage. Through reading, writing, speaking, and listening, students have been exploring theatre as a genre of spoken dialogue coupled with physical movement and nonverbal expression. To read and write scripts students have to think not only about the words the actors will use, but the way in which the author wants the actors to convey feelings. While students read and perform scripts, they are sharpening a variety of essential language arts skills. Rehearsed reading is one of the best ways to increase students’ reading fluency. This is particularly true of a dramatic reading, in which one has to think about the author’s message and how that might affect everything from tone of voice to phrasing to facial expressions and larger gross motor movements. As they step into their characters, students are employing perspective and empathy to better understand and convey their characters. Students are also learning to enhance a play by incorporating learned skills in dance, choreography, and improv. Improv, at its core, is about thinking creatively and getting comfortable with imperfection. Some students are more comfortable with improvised performing, while others are pushed outside their comfort zone. Improv creates a space for students in which listening, team building, and brainstorming are essential for success, and allows them hone their communication and public speaking skills while stimulating fast thinking and engagement with ideas.
Beyond the significance of what happens on stage, the behind the scene areas of theatre, including costume and fantasy makeup design are equally important. Students have been exploring Noh and Kabuki Theatre, highlighting the significance of face paint in showing the emotions of characters to illustrate the importance of makeup. Students are designing blank masks, and then using paint to bring emotions and their character to life. They are reflecting on larger themes in a work of art through makeup design, mask making, and costume design, helping students understand the links between nonverbal communication and physical appearance. Teachers hope students walk away from the experiences of this week with increased confidence to step outside of their comfort zone as they try something new, with more confidence that they can be creators.
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