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Thr 389 Creative Drama

Creative Drama Theatre 389--589

Richard Kalinoski


Fall 2015


Room: Arts and Communication South 150—moving to the Ex.Theatre

When: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3 PM to 4:30 PM

Text: No formal text; students will create two texts: 1. A notebook full of narratives which will detail how to conduct theatre games. 2. A play which will be written by the class.


Other: Attend two main stage productions this semester: Our Town and These Shining Lives.

“The Educated differ from the Uneducated as much as the living from the dead.” Aristotle


Theatre as a part of the Liberal Arts

The liberal arts engage students in the study of the human condition by exploring the disciplines broadly defined by the sciences, the arts, culture, literature and history.  THEATRE is a small component of these human endeavors but its reach is ambitious. Theatre has been historically dedicated to the act of imitating, replicating and representing our lives. In many ways it is the ultimate “liberal” art if one understands the word “liberal” to mean generous or broadly encompassing. In the Western world theatre evolved from religious practice and story telling….and was afforded a place of reverence and respect by early civilizations: The Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians.


Theatre’s mandate is to explore any and all facets of our lives. It demands intellectual rigor and artistic inspiration because theatre is primarily interested in uncovering the truth about how we live. It is this search for truth that puts theatre into the very core of liberal pursuits.  Theatre is a genuine liberal art.



This is a class about creative play---about performance, yes—but specifically PLAY.

The class is designed to help theatre students learn to teach and/or appreciate theatre games (games which call for alertness and quick response but which have a distinct physical significance). The notion of creative drama has been evolving for some 50 plus years in the U.S. and in other Western countries including England. Our idea in this class is to use the learning of theatre games and improvisation to build a play—which will have a script…which will need to be learned and performed. Eventually each of you will be asked to build/portray a character---one that the group will create.

Students are ENCOURAGED to bring comfortable clothing….students will be expected to spend time on stage—laying, sitting, standing, running, walking and etc.


The university continues to expect this class to be graded---though it is not like a conventional class. There will be several quizzes in the first part of the semester, later your theatre games narratives will be assigned a grade. PARTICIPATION is the most important part of this class.


On Participation:  You must not miss class---unless for true emergency or illness. The class is structured to depend on everyone’s attendance—the class is small and everyone is responsible to each other.  You cannot do well in this class by studying a text---the text is you—as a group, as a whole and individually.

Because PLAY is central to the class it is important that students in the class dress appropriately. You should wear sports shoes and/or clothing---and you should be prepared to spend time on the floor.

Participation in this SMALL CLASS will mean that one or two of you will be the playwright (s) …one or more of you will coordinate the costumes for the “production”…one or more of you will coordinate the audience (visit to local elementary school involved), performance time established….one or more of you will create and make copies of programs and posters for the “production”. All of you will be in the play.


Self evaluation

You will have to write two different self-evaluations. In each you will be asked to examine your participation and contributions to the class. The criteria will include the following (as well as other criteria which may arise because of the unique nature of this class):

--the offering of ideas

--enthusiasm for trying out ideas in class

--presence in the classroom: attentive, listening, contributing

--making use of concepts taught

--delivering assignments on time.


Grade breakdown:

15 % Quizzes

15%  Responses to main stage shows.

15% Notebook work

10 % Partnership stories (basis for a proposed play).

20 % self-evaluation ( how candid? How detailed?)

25% Participation (includes contribution to creating a play; includes theatre games activity and includes attendance and rehearsal concentration)

= 100 %

“If only we could recall how we felt when we were small, or could imagine how utterly defeated a young child feels when his play companions or older siblings temporarily reject him or can obviously do things better than he can, or when adults—worst of all, his parents—seem to make fun of him or belittle him, then we would know why the child often feels like an outcast:” 
― Bruno BettelheimThe Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales



“Maybe if more of our adolescents had been brought up on fairy tales, they would (unconsciously) remain aware of the fact that their conflict is not with the adult world, or society, but really only with their parents. Further, threatening as the parent may seem at some time, it is always the child who wins out in the long” 
― Bruno BettelheimThe Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales



You will earn a letter grade on your responses to the performed plays. The letter grade will be shaped by both your insights and the mechanics of your written communication with approximately 60% insights and 40% mechanics (spelling, proofreading, usage, diction etc.). Understand that diction refers to your choice of words in your essay response.   Do not rely entirely on your computer to proofread for you. REPEATED

mechanical mistakes within the same paper will definitely lower your grade. Take the time and energy to proofread.



Class days: September 10,15,17,22,24,29 October 1, 6,8,13,15,20,22,27,29 November 3, 5,10,12,17,19,24, 26 (off), December 1,3,8,10,15,17.

Opening day September 10

Student profiles; discussion of syllabus. Notes about the class.  What

drama is not.  Assign: 1. Show and tell. Details to follow.2. For Sept. 17 class find a news story about something a child did/does which is remarkable/ interesting or heroic.


Sept. 15

On the uses of fairy tales:  Bruno Bettleheim—uses of fantasy/fairy tales.  Show and tell in class. Making machines: notes for notebook. Conversation about students to recruit for audience….discussion of time of day for performance—committee for same needs to be established.


Sept. 17

Quiz 1 on Bettleheim notes. Assign: Write a 2 page story with a child     protagonist: child faces and obstacle (child is 8 years to 11 years old).

Sharing of news stories.


Lecture on how to make a play. Discussion and lecture on the six elements of a play and the idea of a main character (hero). Creating exercises. Creating a(n): animal, building, structure, bizarre picture. Name zing. Notes in notebooks.

Sept. 22

Collect and tell stories from Sept. 17 assignment. Notes on creating a play/six elements. Invention of the child protagonist. The uses and importance of the child protagonist. Theatre games: freeze tag, tug of war, involvement of two. Time to make notes in notebooks. Discussion of guidelines.  


Sept. 24

Guidelines distributed for self-evaluation.  Discussion of same. Assign:                          Partnerships will come up with a proposal for getting an audience. Writing           partnerships established/assigned. Assign: each small group will write a                   story/scenario due on October 6. Part of a whole:

Observing and reacting by joining in and contributing. Notes for notebooks.

Sept. 29

QUIZ 2 on notes re: six elements and child protagonist. Airport game. Discussion of  assignment to find an audience.  Notes for notebook.

October 1

Making a machine exercise; warm up. Responding to the image (group exercise).

Story exercise---based on a word (image) partners make up a story in 10 minutes.        They then tell the story.


Oct. 6

Collect and read aloud stories (written) from assignment September 24.

discuss partnership stories . Report from those who have worked on audience development.

Oct. 8

Notebooks collected.

Ist self-evaluation due (guidelines already distributed). Guidelines for seeing OUR TOWN distributed. Story meetings.

Oct. 13

Our Town opens 15 Oct. Notebooks returned. Exercises:  Pantomimic exercise. Story meetings.  

Oct. 15

See or be in OUR TOWN. No class this day. Playwriting group must meet and work.


Oct. 20

Discussion of the production of Our Town---responses due.

First scene of play due based on story due. Read aloud and discuss in class.

October 22

Class exercises (machine and other).

Group playwriting meeting.

October 27

Entire play due. Copies ready and distributed for reading aloud in class.

October 29

Read and discuss first draft.

November 3

Second draft due—read aloud and discuss. Copies distributed.


Nov. 5

Second self-evaluation due.

Rehearse play. Report from committee for audience.


Nov. 10

Notebooks due.

Rehearse play.

Nov. 12

Notebooks returned.

Rehearse play.


Nov. 17

Rehearse play.


Nov. 19


Nov. 24

Responses to These Shining Lives due.  Discussion of the production.

Rehearse play.

Nov. 26 (off—Thanksgiving)

December 1

Rehearse play.

Dec. 3

Rehearse play.

Dec. 8

Rehearse play. Dress.

Dec. 10

3rd self-evaluation due.

Rehearse play. Dress.

Dec. 15

Performance of play.  (opening)

Dec. 17

Performance of play—final.


by Alderson, James M last modified Sep 09, 2015 01:33 PM