Students analyze the use of set, lights, and sound in a play and create a set, lighting, and sound design to interpret another dramatic work.
- Length: 1-3 class periods
- Grades: 9-12
- Students will understand the literary, technical, and performance elements of drama and explore how these elements interrelate to achieve a desired effect.
- Students will select visual and sound elements to interpret a dramatic work and elicit a response from an audience.
Found On: Performance Excerpts
Vocabulary, Materials, and Handouts
character motivation, climax, denouement, dialogue, foreshadowing, monologue, reversal, set, special effects, staging, tension
TV/VCR or DVD player, materials for performance assessment (paper, markers, cardboard, glue, fabric scraps, etc.), various scripts (short one-acts or scenes from full-length plays or monologues)
Instructional Strategies and Activities
Open the lesson with a classroom discussion that focuses on the lesson objectives. This discussion will set the stage for viewing the Frankenstein excerpt and analyzing how the set, lighting, and sound complement the plays action, characterizations, and mood. Use the Pre-Viewing Questions for Student Discussion handout to guide the discussion.
The Real Thing
How do set, lighting, and sound designers create? How do they collaborate with directors? Are there designers in your community who could come and talk to your class? Places to look include drama departments of nearby colleges and universities and local community theater groups. Check the Kentucky Arts Councils online Arts Resources for Teachers and Schools for leads. Or look into a backstage tour at a local or regional theater company, making a special request to have a designer available to answer students questions.
Since the pre-viewing questions ask students to think of a novel or short story theyve recently read, you may want to precede this lesson by having all students read a story that you think will evoke images in their minds; e.g., any short story by Edgar Allan Poe. If you do, have the text available for students to refer to.
Describe the context of the Frankenstein excerpt (its the plays closing scene, in which Victor Frankenstein realizes he must take responsibility for creating the monster). If necessary, review the literary elements of climax, falling action, and denouement. Ask students to notice the use of lighting and sound and the construction of the set as they watch. How do these elements create a mood? How do they illuminate the characters emotions, conflicts, and growth? Watch the excerpt.
The Design Process in Television
The video excerpt “Bringing a Theatrical Work to Television” from the Aspects of Drama DVD explores how KET translated the stage play Wind in the Willows into a television production. The web site for the KET production of Liz’s Circus Story to see how this one-woman stage play became a television production.
Use the Post-Viewing Questions for Student Discussion handout to facilitate classroom discussion focused on how lighting, set, and sound create important effects in a production.
Divide the class into small groups, or production design teams, of four students each. These design teams will each create a set, lighting, and sound design for a scripted drama. Provide students with several scripts from which they will select one to work with. For example, you might select scenes from plays such as The Crucible or Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, A Dolls House or The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen, night, Mother by Marsha Norman, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, The Bloodknot by Athol Fugard, The Oxcart by Renß Marqußz, or The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.
Before they begin, have students analyze the scenes they have chosen and decide what effect/s and/or audience response they wish to achieve. Ask them to write down their design goals.
Allow the design teams the freedom to select how they will communicate their designs (e.g., from written descriptions and artists renderings to three-dimensional models and recorded sound montages). See the Performance Assessment section below for directions. Have teams present their design goals and products to the rest of the class and discuss each groups ideas and products.
Applications Across the Curriculum
- Interpret, analyze, and evaluate literature.
- Compare/contrast the use of technical elements in a live performance with their use in a film or videotaped performance.
- Explore/understand light and sound.
- Analyze the role science plays in everyday life (life of artists/designers).
- Explore technical careers in theater/video production.
Open Response Assessment
Lighting, set, and sound are all crucial to setting the mood or tone of a successful production. These technical elements play an important role in achieving a desired response from an audience.
Select a televised or live performance and write a critique of the technical elements (lighting, sound, set) employed and how they were used to enhance and illuminate the plays action, mood, and characterizations. Offer examples to support your analysis and evaluation.
Open Response Scoring Guide
|Response is complete and clearly demonstrates extensive knowledge of the technical and performance elements of drama. Student offers several examples of how three technical elements were used to enhance and illuminate the plays action, mood, and characterizations. Student communicates effectively, with insightful use of supporting details and appropriate vocabulary.||Response is complete and demonstrates broad knowledge of the technical and performance elements of drama. Student offers several examples of how two or more of the technical elements were used to enhance and illuminate the plays action, mood, and/or characterizations. Student communicates effectively, using supporting details and appropriate vocabulary.||Response demonstrates basic knowledge of the technical and performance elements of drama. Student offers at least two examples of how one or more of the technical elements were used to enhance and illuminate the plays action, mood, and/or characterizations. Student uses some supporting details and basic vocabulary.||Response demonstrates limited knowledge of the technical and performance elements of drama. Student offers at least one example of how one or more of the technical elements were used to enhance and illuminate the plays action, mood, and/or characterizations. Student communicates ineffectively, with few or no supporting details and limited vocabulary.||Blank, no answer, or irrelevant response.|
Form design teams of four students and create a lighting, set, and sound design for a scripted drama.
- As a group, select a script from among those provided. Then select a scene to work with and analyze it in terms of its action, mood, and characterization.
- As the designers selected to interpret this scene, determine what effects you would like to create using the technical elements of set, lighting, and sound. Write a one-paragraph statement outlining your design goals for the scene and the response you would like to elicit from your audience.
- Draw, outline, graph, record, build, or select other ways to communicate your lighting, set, and sound ideas for the scene, demonstrating how these design decisions will create the desired effects and audience response.
- Present your design goals and products to the class.
Performance Scoring Guide
|Student clearly demonstrates an extensive understanding of the technical elements and how they can be used to illuminate a plays action, mood, and characterizations and to evoke a response in the audience. Student demonstrates extensive critical thinking skills and creativity in completing the assignment. Student completes all aspects of the task in an incisive and thorough manner.||Student demonstrates broad understanding of the technical elements and how they can be used to illuminate a plays action, mood, and characterizations and to evoke a response in the audience. Student demonstrates broad critical thinking skills and creativity in completing the assignment. Student successfully completes all aspects of the task.||Student demonstrates basic understanding of the technical elements and how they can be used to illuminate a plays action, mood, and characterizations and to evoke a response in the audience. Student demonstrates basic use of critical thinking skills and creativity in completing the assignment. Student partially completes the task and/or is unsuccessful in attempts to address some parts of the task.||Student demonstrates minimal understanding of the technical elements and how they can be used. Student makes little or no use of critical thinking skills and creativity in completing the assignment. Student minimally completes the task or is largely unsuccessful in completing the task.||Student shows little or no evidence of having attempted to complete the task.|
Cynthia Warner, KET