All The Home’s A Stage: What Role Can Drama Play In Remote Learning?
With schools once again closed for the foreseeable future, it is inevitable and wholly understandable that teachers will prioritise the core subjects of English, Maths and Science in their remote provision.
Beyond that, there will likely be a mixture of art, music, PSHE and humanities on offer, possibly with an ongoing project to chip away at too.
But Drama is also a wonderful addition to the home-learning cannon. It’s an exciting, dynamic, creative and meaningful pursuit that most children will love the chance to do in their home. And it doesn’t need a cast of 30 to make it work. It can be done in pairs with a sibling or parent, or even as an individual. On top of that, it requires very little teacher involvement, it can provide a break from looking at a screen or working at a table, it needn’t require any particular resources and it may be just what the children need when stuck at home for such a lengthy period.
It’s what children have been doing since they were toddlers: pretending to be someone else, usually somebody older than them and in a situation or location familiar to them, or known from books, television or film. These might be:
- Schools, cafes, kitchens, supermarkets, parks, playgrounds, beaches, airports, trains, hotels, campsites.
Or somewhere more fantastical:
- A desert island, a mystical sailing/pirate ship, a land of fairies, outer space, inside an extinct volcano, a medieval castle, the ruins of an ancient city in the middle of a jungle.
Children tend to construct their own stories within these settings, creating characters, exploring voices and mannerisms, developing scenarios and evolving things along the way. Usually all they need is the location and off they go. But a theme can also be useful:
- Friendship, loyalty, betrayal, trust, danger, revenge, courage, perseverance, wealth, happiness, honour, family, hope, jealousy, bravery, growing up, freedom.
The addition of props and costumes is guaranteed to add to the excitement and interest for children, and can even be good stimuli in their own right. Items found around the house, especially things such as umbrellas, handbags, teapots, cases, mops, books, dolls and cuddly toes, can all be utilised or easily re-appropriated. Costume accessories such as hats, scarves, gloves and coats are equally useful. Alternatively, home-made props such as treasure maps, long-lost letters and diaries can themselves be a great starting point for drama.
Monologues and Duologues
Some children, especially slightly older children, may prefer the structure of a script more enjoyable, the challenge being how they bring to life the words and characters. Duologues are great for siblings or for a child to do with a parent, but they would also work equally well when undertaken with a friend online. At present, The School Musicals Company is providing for free a large number of duologues extracted from their full length shows to support drama at home. Each download pack also contains a song from the show and includes the backing track and lyrics.
Monologues work equally well if a pupil is working alone, and offer children the chance to immerse themselves in a character. As part of The School Musicals Company home learning resources, two downloadable monologue packs are available, each containing monologues of a variety of styles, lengths and topics.
Supporting Other Subjects
One of the best ways of using Drama at home is to build it into other lessons, using it to support learning, to consolidate understanding, to help make a topic, fact or theory more memorable, and to bring a dynamic element to what might otherwise be relatively static study.
Role play, speaking and listening, storytelling, miming, physicalisation of objects or ideas, the creation of chants/verse/dialogue, movement, puppetry, costuming, singing: all of these will make the learning more dynamic, more stimulating, more interactive and probably more memorable.
Role Play, in particular, lends itself to subjects such as English, History and PSHE, where characters can be explored and situations enacted, putting oneself in the metaphorical shoes of somebody else, considering how they feel, behave, and communicate through speech and body language.
Our blog - The Question Is – Is Drama The Answer? – gives general guidance on this topic.
The next few weeks – and potentially months of home learning – will be a huge challenge for pupils, parents and teachers alike. The novelty of on-screen lessons may already be wearing off, and chances are children will be itching for a less sedentary approach. Drama ticks that box with aplomb.