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Creative Dramatics: A Practical Way to Promote Play

Alice Gonglewski, Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia, PA Jillian Finkle, National Children's Museum, Washington, DC

CD Definition and Philosophy

What is Creative Dramatics?

1. Creative Drama: An informal, improvisational, non-exhibitional, process-centered form of drama in which participants are guided by a leader to imagine, enact, and reflect upon human experiences through role-play, improvisation, pantomime, movement, and sound. (From the web site of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education: 2. Creative Dramatics is "incorporating theatrical components and dramatic exploration into educational settings to support the child's natural tendency to learn through play." (From the PTM Creative Dramatics Program mission statement) 3. Creative Drama is a distinct discipline, art form, teaching tool and educational process for teaching and learning; it is a hybrid between theatre and education. (Adapted from Nellie McCaslin's Creative Drama in the Classroom and Beyond.)

Why should educators use Creative Dramatics?

Because Creative Drama: · Affirms that all people can play, that all people can succeed at it, and that all people are creative; has no right or wrong answers. · Develops people, is not a product; has experience and not performance as the goal. · Promotes physical, mental and emotional learning. · Supports concentration, imagination, problem solving, and critical thinking. · Fosters empathy, cooperation, and compromise. · Cultivates self-control, initiative, and self-esteem. · Helps children absorb, process, and retain concepts. · Develops communication and language skills, breath awareness, and voice control. · Enhances physical control and awareness; develops gross and fine motor skills. · Encourages theatre and art appreciation, provides accessibility; debunks the myth that only actors can use drama. · Requires only space, leadership, imagination, and participation; is inexpensive and uncomplicated. · Invigorates any subject, but can also be a subject unto itself.

Words of Wisdom

"(Drama) Games should not be confused with formal performances on a raised stage in front of an audience......... play drama games in any kind of space and at any level of proficiency. It is play, not theater. The difference between (drama) games and regular play is that here you try to give the games form." 101 Drama Games for Children Paul Rooyackers "Ideas on what to do and later on who to be.....arise entirely from the teacher. Do this, do that, do the other thing. .... but each person thinks out the how for himself and makes his own attempt...What is valuable is for each person to discover for himself his own way of doing it." Development Through Drama Brian Way "There are many different parts of your brain that are storing all the time, many different kinds of memory....There must be some process that happens, which we call consolidation, by which memories get transferred from the short-term to the long-term store. It would be very stupid of Mother Nature to have created a brain that remembers everything equally well--that would be a very bad idea. There must be ways of weighting information storage, and creating memories whose strength is roughly proportional to how important the things were to remember....That is what we focus on when we talk about emotional arousal influencing memory storage processes. We view emotional arousal as but one way that you can affect memory storage in the brain, but probably a very important way, and a way that operates naturally in the sense that you don't have to intentionally work on it necessarily, as you might with conscious rehearsal." Dr. Larry Cahill, the Center for the Neurobiology or Learning and Memory at UC Irvine.

"What is now proved was once only imagined." -William Blake "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create." -Albert Einstein

"We all do 'do, re, mi,' but you have got to find the other notes yourself." -Louis Armstrong

Creative Dramatics: Programming Components

Some Building Blocks of Drama:

· · · · · · · · Action/Movement Sensory Exploration Emotional Awareness/Empathy Stories/Storytelling Dramatic Play/Improvisation Character Development/Role Playing Interaction/Cooperation/Negotiation Masks/Puppets

Springboard Subjects for Creative Drama:

· · · · · · · · · · · · Museum Exhibits Theater and Improvisation Games or Exercises Books or Poems Folk Tales, Fables, Fairy Tales, Legends or Myths Visual Arts: paintings, photographs, sculpture, architecture Location or Event--historical, contemporary, real or imaginary Scientific Processes or Natural Phenomena Songs or Music Sports Mathematical Pattern and Sequence Feelings and Emotions Dance, Rhythm and Movement

"The Actor's Toolbox" From Sean Layne

· · · · · Body Voice Imagination Concentration Cooperation

Creative Dramatics: Programming Construction

Programming Checklist

Here is a list of questions to refer to when creating your own activities or programming. Is the program: Flexible: Is my program easily adaptable for different groups? Physical: Am I using movement in engaging and creative ways? Fun: Will I have a good time? Will the kids? Are there fun games, activities, props, costumes, puppets, etc. in the program? Are there things I know the kids will enjoy that I can work into the program? Does the program encourage the "I"s? Imagination: Am I asking the kids to imagine and pretend? Innovation: Does the program support new methods for participation? Improvisation: Do the activities help the kids think on their feet? Does the program encourage the "C"s? Communication: Is there opportunity for verbal and body language expression or comprehension? Cooperation: Do I challenge the kids to work together or share? Creativity: Does the program support creativity and experimentation? Is the program: Practical: Are my activities realistic for the space--if a large open area in the museum, will noise be a distraction? Do I have enough time allotted? What age range am I targeting? Etc. Prepared: Have I prototyped the program elements? Am I ready if I need to use a different space or have a group of different age s? Is there an assistant available for large groups? Are my activities accessible for special needs or ESL kids?

Support Items Checklist:

· · A Focus Tool. Use a motion, rhythm, word or prop to reestablish focus on the leader. Props. Simple props, toys, puppets and dress up clothes are great tools to complement programming. Caveat: Props can sometimes distract kids, especially preschoolers! Bring out props at a time in the program when it is OK if the kids are paying more attention to the props than to yo u! Proper Support. Make sure you have appropriate clothing and shoes when you implement your activities. It may also be useful to have a microphone, helper, or sound controlled area to avoid shouting directions. Permission to Fail. In all creative endeavors, it is important to give yourself permission to experiment and fail. If something is not working the way you planned, treat that bump in the programming road as an opportunity to model for children a positive way of dealing with snags. If you let visitors and kids know you are testing out something new, they will be much less critical and more supportive and helpful.



Creative Drama Resources

Contact Us! Alice Gonglewski Please Touch Museum Philadelphia, PA [email protected] (215) 963-0667 x3107 Jillian Finkle National Children's Museum Washington, DC [email protected] (202) 675-4169

Organizations American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) International Museum Theatre Alliance (IMTAL) Online Resources · · Note! This site also contains an extensive book list. · · · · Arts focused lesson plan database · Creative Drama and Youth Theatre Web Ring General Reference "Experts Concerned About Children's Creative Thinking" "Seeing is Believing: Visible Thought in Dramatic Play": Heinig, Ruth Beall and Lydia Stillwell. Creative Drama for the Classroom. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 1981. McCaslin, Nellie. Creative Drama in the Classroom and Beyond. 6th edition, Longman, White Plains, NY: 1996. Spolin, Viola. Theater Games for the Classroom: A Teacher's Handbook. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1986. Lowndes, Betty. Movement and Creative Drama for Children. Boston, MA, Plays, Inc. Gilbert, Anne Green. Teaching the Three R's Through Movement Experiences. National Dance Education Organization: 2002. Benzwie, Theresa. A Moving Experience: Dance for Lovers of Children and the Child Within. Zephyr Press; New Ed edition: 1987. Erion, Polly. Drama in the Classroom: Creative Activities for Teachers, Parents & Friends. Lost Coast Press:1996.

Additional Resources

Activity Books · · · · · · · · The Wiggle and Giggle Busy Book Trish Kuffner Follow Me, Too Marianne Torbert/Lynne .b Schneider Yoga Games for Children Danielle Bersma and Marjoke Visscher 101 Drama Games for Children Paul Rooyackers Making Make Believe MaryAnn F. Kohl Curtains Up: Theatre Games and Storytelling Robert E. Rubinstein Dance, Turn, Hop, Learn Connie Bergstein Dow Wiggle, Giggle, and Shake Rae Pica

Museum Theatre Reference Bridal, Tessa. Exploring Museum Theatre. Lanham, MD: Alta Mira Press, 2004. Hayes, Jennifer Fell, and Dorothy Napp Schindel. Pioneer Journeys: Drama in Museum Education. Charlottesville, Va.: New Plays Books, 1994. Hayes, Jennifer Fell, and Dorothy Napp Schindel. "Museum Ed ucation through Drama: Blazing a New Trail." The Drama/Theatre Teacher. AATE, 1992 Hughes, Catherine. Museum Theatre: Communicating with Visitors through Drama. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1998. Hughes, Catherine, ed. Perspectives on Museum Theatre. Washington, D.C.: AAM, 1993. Hughes, Catherine, ed. Case Studies in Museum, Zoo, and Aquarium Theater. Washington, D.C.: AAM, 1999. "Museum Theater: Many Roles, Many Players, Many Places, Many Reasons." Journal of Museum Education. 15, no.2 (Spring/Summer 1990). Note: Special issue devoted to Museum Theater. Schindel, Dorothy Napp. "The Many Faces of Drama in Museums." INSIGHTS. International Museum Theatre Alliance, Fall 2000, Vol. 10.


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