Performance Excerpts

This collection of video clips from student and professional theatrical productions is included in the Drama Arts Toolkit.

Wind in the Willows: Toad and His Horse

Characters from the classic Kenneth Grahame children’s story come to life onstage. In this excerpt, Toad, who is always full of crazy ideas, shares his fantasy about having a horse—to various reactions from his forest friends Otter, Mole, and Rat. The excerpt is from the KET production of Stage One’s adaptation of Wind in the Willows. The entire program is 90 minutes long and includes an introductory segment showing how a stage production is captured for television.

Suggested Uses:
to explore elements of performance and production
to compare/contrast characters
to compare/contrast the elements of performance and/or production in one or more performance excerpts—such as either of the Wind in the Willows excerpts with Pinocchio, Frankenstein, Gilly Hopkins, and/or “Little Jack and Big Jack”
as a model for taking a scene from literature and transforming it into a dramatic piece

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Wind in the Willows: The Motor Car

Characters from the classic Kenneth Grahame children’s story come to life onstage. In this excerpt, Toad, Otter, Mole, and Rat go for a picnic at the high road. When they see an automobile, most of the animals are frightened, but Toad is fascinated. The next thing you know, he has “gone wild for motorcars,” and his friends suspect that it can only mean trouble. The excerpt is from the KET production of Stage One’s adaptation of Wind in the Willows. The entire program is 90 minutes long and includes an introductory segment showing how a stage production is captured for television.

Suggested Uses:
to explore elements of performance and production
to compare/contrast characters
to discuss turning literature into drama and transforming a stage play into a television production

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Pinocchio

J. Daniel Herring of Louisville’s Stage One introduces this scene from a theatrical production of Pinocchio, telling viewers to pay particular attention to the costumes. In keeping with the commedia dell’arte style, they are stock costumes in black and white with other items added to distinguish each character. In the scene, Pinocchio discovers that a life of fun and candy can bring some unwanted changes. The video excerpt is from the KET professional development series The Arts I: A Content Course for Teachers. The series includes three 90-minute programs designed to enhance teachers’ content knowledge in the arts. The program on drama uses scenes from Stage One productions to demonstrate character development, set production, staging, and directing. The other two programs focus on dance and music, with choreographer and dancer Ann Hoddap exploring diverse dance styles and Phyllis Free exploring musical elements and instrument families. The series is available from KET for $45 per tape.

Suggested Uses:
to identify and discuss elements of performance and production
to use with the section on commedia dell’arte from the “History of Theater” segment
to compare/contrast with “Little Jack and Big Jack” on the Storytelling Sampler, looking at similarities as well as differences
to discuss turning literature into drama

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Appleseed John: Ragdoll-Come-to-Life

Set in the 1820s, this excerpt from the Stage One play follows Abby, a young girl growing up on the American frontier. In this scene, Abby and her favorite rag doll meet John Chapman, better known as “Appleseed John,” and his companion, Pakanke. Chapman is grouchy and suspicious at first, but both he and Pakanke respond positively to her “ragdoll-come-to-life.” The fun is soon squelched when Abby talks about clearing the land.

Suggested Uses:
Use for scene analysis.
Use as a prompt, along with the “Responding to Drama” guide, for writing a critique of a performance.
Discuss how drama can help in understanding historical periods (e.g., Appleseed John, Frankenstein, or Words Like Freedom excerpts).

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The Great Gilly Hopkins

J. Daniel Herring of Louisville’s Stage One sets up two scenes from a production of The Great Gilly Hopkins with a discussion of acting and how characters must transform in the course of a play. The scenes show the changes in the behavior and feelings of Gilly, a teenage girl, and her foster mother, Maime Trotter. The video excerpt is from the KET professional development series The Arts I: A Content Course for Teachers. The series includes three 90-minute programs designed to enhance teachers’ content knowledge in the arts. The program on drama uses scenes from Stage One productions to demonstrate character development, set production, staging, and directing. The other two programs focus on dance and music, with choreographer and dancer Ann Hoddap exploring diverse dance styles and Phyllis Free exploring musical elements and instrument families. The series is available from KET for $45 per tape.

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Frankenstein

J. Daniel Herring of Louisville’s Stage One sets up the closing scene from a theatrical production of Frankenstein with comments on how lighting, set, and sound create important effects in a production. In the scene, Victor Frankenstein realizes he must take responsibility for creating the monster, even at the highest personal cost. The video excerpt is from the KET professional development series The Arts I: A Content Course for Teachers. The series includes three 90-minute programs designed to enhance teachers’ content knowledge in the arts. The program on drama uses scenes from Stage One productions to demonstrate character development, set production, staging, and directing. The other two programs focus on dance and music, with choreographer and dancer Ann Hoddap exploring diverse dance styles and Phyllis Free exploring musical elements and instrument families. The series is available from KET for $45 per tape.

Suggested Uses:
to identify and discuss elements of theater production
to analyze elements of performance
to use with other segments or the Stage One: Page to Stage feature to discuss acting and design
to compare to film adaptations of Frankenstein or, in a literature class, to the novel

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Shakespeare: Scene from Hamlet

Lexington (KY) actor Kevin Hardesty performs the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy from Act III, Scene I of the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet. When the play opens, Hamlet’s father, the King of Denmark, has mysteriously died two months earlier, and the King’s brother, Claudius, has assumed the throne and married the King’s wife and Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet meets the Ghost of the dead King, who accuses Claudius of murder. Hamlet must decide the truth of the accusation and what course of action to take. Hardesty opens the segment with a brief introduction to the scene. This segment was produced especially for the Drama Arts Toolkit.

Suggested Uses:
Discuss the role of the actor in creating a character.
Use for scene analysis.
Introduce or enrich the study of a Shakespearean play.
Use as a prompt, along with the “Responding to Drama” guide, for writing a critique of a performance.
Use the Shakespeare scenes to discuss his use of language or to compare/contrast characteristics of tragedy and comedy.
Pair the scene from Hamlet with the Macbeth scene performed Kabuki-style on the Kabuki videotape/DVD to compare and contrast characteristics of Shakespearean and Kabuki drama and/or to compare/contrast two tragic heroes.

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Shakespeare: Scene from Much Ado About Nothing

The main plot in this Shakespearean comedy revolves around the young lovers Claudio and Hero and the obstacles to their marriage. This scene, however, features the more mature lovers from the play’s sub-plot—Beatrice and Benedick—and their “merry war.” Prior to this scene (from Act V, Scene II), Hero’s character has been defamed, causing her fiancé, Claudio, to reject her at the altar. Enraged, Beatrice urges Benedick to prove his love for her by killing Claudio. In this scene, Benedick tells Beatrice he has challenged Claudio to a duel. Lexington actors Patti Heying and Joe Gatton perform the roles of Beatrice and Benedick. Gatton opens the segment with a brief introduction to the scene. This video clip was produced especially for the Drama Arts Toolkit.

Suggested Uses:
Discuss the role of the actor in creating a character.
Use for scene analysis.
Introduce or enrich the study of a Shakespearean play.
Use as a prompt, along with the “Responding to Drama” guide, for writing a critique of a performance.
Use the Shakespeare scenes to discuss his use of language or to compare/contrast characteristics of tragedy and comedy.

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Basics

Written and performed by high school students, the ingenious one-act play Basics shows two teenagers exploring their complicated feelings about each other and the confusion they feel about a new development in their relationship. The video excerpt is from the KET professional development program PlayWRIGHTing: The Craft of Dramatic Writing. The 90-minute program, featuring Nancy Niles Sexton of Walden Theatre’s Young Playwrights Project, explores character and plot development and other aspects of scriptwriting, using as examples short plays written and performed by high school students.

Suggested Uses:
Identify and discuss elements of theater production.
Analyze elements of performance.
Use as an example to inspire students to create their own one-act plays.
Have students write a critique of a performance, using the drama criticism guide.
Pair with the Marsha Norman excerpt to discuss playwriting and choice of subject matter.

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Words Like Freedom

This segment from the KET production Words Like Freedom/Sturdy Black Bridges includes works by three African-American women writers: “Ain’t I a Woman” by 19th-century abolitionist and feminist Sojourner Truth; “Alabama Centennial,” a poem about the civil rights movement of the 1960s by Naomi Long Madgett; and Nikki Giovanni’s popular self-love poem, “Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why).” Words Like Freedom/Sturdy Black Bridges is a 60-minute poetic concert that celebrates the African-American legacy of both the written and the spoken word. The pieces are performed by Priscilla Hancock Cooper and Dhana Bradley Donaldson.

Suggested Uses:
Discuss how poetry can express complex issues and concepts about human relations and behavior.
Explore the power of words in swaying public opinion.
Use to explore and enhance the study of American history (topics: abolition, feminism, civil rights).
Use as a model for interpreting poetry, either as a solo performance or as a duet.

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