Title: Two versus King Subject/Course: Theater
Topic: Status Grades: 9-12 Designer: Rachel Kurnos
Theater Arts, standard #1 – The student understands the importance and role of status in scene work.
Understandings: Students will understand that…
• There are stereotypes associated with status that do not always reflect real life.
• The outward status of a person or character may not always reflect a person’s idea of their own status.
• Shifts in status can change a scene considerably.
• Status not only plays out in theater but also in real life.
• Their own experiences with status can be used in their scene work.
• What is status?
• Does a person’s external status (usually put on them by society) always match their idea of their own status?
• What types of stereotypes come along with the ideas of high/low status?
• How has status affected your own personal life? How can those experiences be used in the theater?
Students will know…
• The vocabulary associated with status work.
• The importance of status in developing a scene and in character work.
• The stereotypes linked with the term “status”.
• The prevalence status has in the lives of everyone.
• That statuses are not always as they appear.
Students will be able to…
• Use/incorporate status in their scene work.
• Recognize the stereotypes associated with status.
• Use status in order to challenge themselves in their scene work.
• Create more complex characters through the use of status work.
Performance Task: Person A and B status open scene
“You will all be given the same scene that contains character A and character B. You will pair up and choose your relationship and the given circumstances of the scene. Then you will decide each of your own statuses. You will have twenty minutes to work on your scene before showing it to the class. Your scene should be able to demonstrate the internal and external statuses of each character as well as the status each character has attributed to the other character. You will then be graded on the amount of thought put into your scene along with a demonstration of knowledge about status. You will also be evaluated through your oral presentation, in which you will explain your thought process involved in creating your scene.”
• Clear objectives, environment and status.
• Good explanation of the students’ thought processes.
• Grasp of status work and vocabulary.
• Journal – Students will write an explanation of their reasons for their specific choices made in their scene, along with writing about the things that they could have improved on. They will also talk about what they learned from the scenes of others and how they (the writer of the journal entry) would change their scene if they were to do it again.
• Scene work – Improvisational scenes will be done in class that show their growth in status work.
1) Introduce the class with the essential questions that go along with status (“what is status?”, “use of status in scenes”). The class will come up with a definition of status and start a conversation on status in scene work. Students will read the chapter “Status” in Impro by Keith Johnson. This reading will go through status work in depth and explain some of the vocabulary used when dealing with status.
2) Students will start with status improvisation games. Each student will be given a card (from a standard deck of cards) that will represent their status. They can see everyone else’s cards, but they cannot see their own card. They will put the card on their forehead and they will interact with each other. After the game is over, they will try to guess what their own status was based off of their interactions with others. Then there will be a conversation about stereotypes. Questions will be asked, such as: “do you really act that way to people of lower/higher status in real life?” and “how would you change your behavior if we played this game again?”
3) The students will then engage in a blind date improvisation that will use all the knowledge they have gained from the previous exercise. There will be four people involved in the scene. Two people are siblings/friends who have been set up on a blind date. The other two will also be siblings/friends who are meeting those two for the blind date. Each student will be given a card for the status that they think they possess, and a card for the status of everyone else in the scene (this card will represent what he/she thinks that person’s status is, and that will affect how he or she interacts with him/her). A scene will play out and at the end of the scene the audience will have to guess the internal/external statuses of everyone in the scene. This game adds an extra layer to status work, because it explains the dichotomy between what a person thinks of his or herself and what others think of that person. Students will explore the essential question: “does your external status match the status you think you possess?” Students will also discuss how status affected the scene and each of the relationships created during the scene. They will discover how statuses mean different things to different people and how it affects each of their own actions in scene work and in life.
4) Students will use the discussion from the previous exercise and will form groups of two. Each pair will be given the same scene. It will be an ambiguous open scene between character A and character B. The students must then decide the environment the scene is set in, the relationship between the two characters, and each of their internal/external statuses (along with the status they think the other character has). They will then have twenty minutes to plan and rehearse their scenes. They will be advised to use real life examples as a guide and to avoid stereotypes. The scenes will then be performed in front of the class.
5) After each scene, the class will comment on the scenes and try to guess the statuses portrayed. The students will then suggest changes that could have made their scene more effective. After receiving comments, the performers will explain their thought process and why they made the choices that they did. After all of the scenes are performed, each student will write a journal entry about what they learned from this exercise and what they would have done differently. They will then come up with two other ways they could have done the scene and why each would be effective.
Status Open Scene
A: Where are you going
B: I don't know. Why
A: What are you really asking me
B: She said it was O.K.
A: It really doesn't matter anyway
B: Tell me something new
A: It could be dangerous
B: I don't think so
A: Why not
B: He wouldn't like it