Utilizing the theatre as a tool for teaching incorporates emotional, cognitive, social development and fulfilling academic requirements simultaneously. Whether directly from work or through an adaptation of the script, literature performance gives students the opportunity of authentic expression via the virtual platform.
Teachers can use tools like document cameras to deliver their drama classes on platforms like Zoom.
Tips for Drama Teachers in Distance Teaching
Reading Parts with Your Students
Show your students the script under a document camera. Then begin by reading a literature script or text, then trailing off to give students a chance to read the major parts.
Engaging Your Students in a Discourse
The teacher can get their students’ attention by engaging them in a short discourse about literary themes. It can also be a brainstorming session on bringing up solutions to problems and innovating opportunities too. For instance, the teacher might ask their students how they can mirror actions such as fighting or disappearing on the virtual space.
Casting a Show
Another tip is casting a show. You can invite your students to pen down several roles they would like to portray and roles they won’t like to play. This gives the teacher an insight into the preferences and desires of his students. The insights extend beyond the course into their personalities. For instance, some students desire to play the protagonist of the story, and some will like to play the antagonist. These insights help the teacher understand their students.
Watch your Students’ Expression
Watch and pay attention to the parts where your students are just reciting their lines mechanically. This is where the teacher should stop the student and ask if the student understands the meaning of the line and how he can communicate that line to his audience. Tell your students to project attitude, not just emotion. For example, a student whose role is to portray sadness in a certain part may just appear sad without actually considering how that character would express their sadness. There are several ways to portray sadness: faking excitement, fighting tears, gasping for breath on receiving tragic news, and so on.
Take a look at the Actors Academy’s video on how you could teach your students to express their emotions realistically:
Recreating the Stage Environment
When it’s time for drama rehearsals, you can make it happen on Zoom. How? You can decide to relocate the desks in the back of classrooms and give the room a lot of space. You can start with a brief drama warm-up. Pick an exercise you’re comfortable with. It can be a tongue twister or a shakeout. Stick with that exercise. Use your whole self to express yourself to your audience (your students) via the video camera. Even if your entire body isn’t captured on the video feed, your bodily expressions will reflect in your voice and eyes.
After you’ve organized a few rehearsals with your students, ask questions about the story such as: “how does the plot relate to our daily lives?” and “how can we use insights gained from those questions about the story to give our character portrayal more depth? Next, allow your students to inject their creativity into the buildup of the drama by giving them specific responsibilities. One of which is asking them to decide the design themes. Another is asking them to decide on the music to use for the play or a visual metaphor.
You can divide your students into teams and put them in separate rooms. When they return after their deliberations, listen to the objectives they hope to achieve with their design for the play. For example, you might hear why a particular team decides to adopt up to three background music and/or sound effects and why they were chosen.
You will make the decisions on the choice of costume and the virtual scenery for each scene. It doesn’t matter if these ideas can be actualized in the play itself. The point is letting them explore and defend their choices.