Today I had 50% of a fabulous lesson with Year 8 Drama.
We start with a fantastic warmup I call “Keeper of the Keys” where you blindfold one student in the centre of a circle, put a set of keys at their feet and give them a foam sword. You let the other students sneak around to steal the keys and generally someone gets whacked with a sword. As I said, fantastic.
This was meant to introduce the concept of spatial awareness onstage, as we were going to go into how space affects the relationship between performers, also following on from the previous lesson about focus.
However, one student starts talking about how tense he felt while watching this game unfold.
Being the ‘safari’ teacher I am (I follow those tangents like there’s no tomorrow), I immediately latch onto the fact that tension is in fact the very next element of Drama that were were going to cover on Wednesday. Sniffing a small window of opportunity and engagement, I switch across to my tension lesson.
We start discussing the power of the dramatic pause and some forms of tension (relationships, task/obstacle, surprise and mystery). I joke about what mysteries I have hidden in my magical storeroom and casually drop that Sparky would love to meet them – he’s the skeleton I borrowed from Science that looks far more attractive in his Drama hats.
Obviously this disintegrates into a non-stop chant of “WE WANT SPARKY”.
Sparky comes out, we all give him a hug, the chanting subsides and I seamlessly transition into the remainder of my lesson on space.
Space. Not tension. Space.
As such, I have now taught my students half the lesson on tension and half the lesson on space. I don’t even know where to pick up again tomorrow.
And this is why we never bring out the skeleton.