|Grade span:||9 to 12|
|Duration:||Two to three 45-minute sessions|
Description:This lesson is one example of how you can implement the practice of Thinking and Talking About Works of Art. In this activity, Students will attend a live (or view a recorded) theatre production and write a review.
- Understand the purpose and role of theatre criticism
- Learn to analyze, interpret, and critique a live theatre performance
- Learn to develop a framework for criticism and write a review of a performance
- Access to a live theatre performance or a video/DVD of a play
- Audio visual equipment if viewing a video or DVD
- Writing materials
- Internet access (optional)
- Biographies of the playwright or articles about the play
- Sample theatre reviews
- Collect samples of theatre reviews from the Internet, newspapers, or magazines.
- Review the major elements of a theatre production (acting, directing, script, stage, set).
- Review the major elements of a theatre review (description, analysis, interpretation). Description refers to summarizing events of the performance. For example: "Each scene was acted out accompanied by a series of images." Analysis takes the description and puts it in context. For example: "This technique is popular in restoration theatre." Finally, interpretation builds on the description and analysis, and allows room for a personal opinion. For example: "This made it hard to connect with the characters."
What to Do:
- Discuss the role of criticism in theatre, reviewing the major elements of theatrical production and review.
- Give students time to read about the playwright and/or the performance.
- Attend a live performance or view one on video/DVD.
- Guide students in a critical discussion of the work, organizing the discussion around a critical framework such as description, analysis and interpretation. You may even want to write down students' comments and categorize them under description, analysis, or interpretation. You might ask, for example:
- What happened? Describe the plot and any aspects of the performance.
- Why do you think the author or playwright included these things? What do they tell you about the playwright? What do they reflect about the period where the piece takes place? What do you think the desired effect was?
- What do you think of the things you've described and analyzed? How did they make you feel? Did the piece have the desired effect on you as a viewer?
- Beginning critics may struggle to distinguish analysis from interpretation. Encourage students to practice separating analysis rooted in cultural or historical meanings from their own personal impressions.
- Provide the details of the assignment: Students will be writing a review of a theater performance for a newspaper. The paper has a 400-word limit and a deadline of noon the day following the performance.
- Share reviews with the class the following day.
Evaluate (Outcomes to look for):
- Student participation and engagement
- An understanding of the elements of performance and review.
- Reviews submitted according to the deadline
- Reviews that reflect thoughtful analysis of a performance, including constructive criticism
Click this link to see additional learning goals, grade-level benchmarks, and standards covered in this lesson.