Students must clearly understand setting and how it can enhance the plot and illuminate character relationships, conflict and resolution. We revisit books we have used for multiple purposes and focus on setting as an essential element in telling the story. Citing specific text and illustrations that give clues about time and place serve to clarify the interdependence of setting and other elements of a story. While reading and listening to Mozart’s Magic Flute, students create detailed drawings illustrating their vision of setting as portrayed through textual clues. They are now ready to move forward in the selection process.
How do we relate to one another? How do our dominant traits and motivation affect and define our relationships with others? Through improvisation and partner discussion, company members determined the unique relationships among the five characters. Given all that we know about these beings we have created, what seems logical? Where do we see conflict? Where do we see connection? The complex discussions that ensued as a result of these questions inspired numerous possibilities and encouraged the students to probe deeper into “who we are and what makes us tick.”
Exploring the faces of reconnection has driven us deeper and deeper into the mixed emotions that occur as a result of this reunion. Metaphor allows us the perfect medium to express and explain our infinite definitions and perspectives of this powerful theme and thesis.
What color is reconnection? The students see it clearly. As they share drawings and writing, defending their ideas and choices of color, we all become more and more invested in discovering where this thinking may lead in developing strong characters and a profound story line.
What color is reconnection? Please share with us what you see, what you feel, what you think.
Since day one, after looking in the mirror to answer the initial question, “What do I see?” we have been observing and analyzing character traits in ourselves and in the interesting characters we get to know through literature.
Our first mission was to clarify the difference between personality traits and emotions. We then began generating an ongoing list of traits that would eventually serve to help in creating authentic characters. As we thought about specific characteristics that would be bold and immediately identifiable on stage, students “acted out” those options they considered most interesting. From this improvisational experience, company members selected five dominant traits to represent five separate characters. After, they spent two weeks defending a host of positive and negative traits to accompany the dominant trait and build unique characters that would illuminate the theme and thesis, and establish compelling relationships. Determining character motivation, what drives a character to do the things he does, occurred through a series of improvisation sessions. Take a look.
Many children, when confronted with an unfamiliar problem or challenge, dismiss it as too hard, say “I can’t do it,” or “you never taught me this.” They make no attempt to solve the problem or address the situation unless they can clearly see a path for resolution. In other words, they must know beforehand, that they will be successful. A primary goal of the learning process is training ourselves to look at a problem with an open mind, observe carefully what we know, assess what we don’t and determine a strategy of attack. When students embrace this philosophy, they take risks, make mistakes and truly understand that real learning can only happen when failure is a part of the process. Through bouts of frustration, uncertainty and confusion, passion and perseverance will be our guide.
As Philip worked incessantly for fifty minutes on a difficult math problem, I bent down to offer encouragement and noticed what he had written at the top of his paper.