Using the Active Approach

Some of the thinking skills used for understanding

What is the Active Approach?

The 'active approach' could be described as 'an all-engaging way of teaching', used both in the classroom and the professional theatre. All students are active throughout the duration of the workshop- whether acting or observing others, or co-operating in small groups, learning from each other.

active approach has become part of a recent tradition to discover character motivation, investigate plots and to explore Shakespeare’s rich language. It has been tried and tested in many professional (RSC, Globe Theatre) and school settings in the UK in particular, and has proven effective in drawing even the shyest students into the action.

Related activities can be found in books, written by Jonothan Neelands, Rex Gibson, Joe Winston, Miles Tandy and the RSC Toolkit for Teachers. While many activities will be familiar to drama teachers, some are relatively new and have been drawn from RSC practices.

Roll on the wall:

'Roll on the wall' is literally a roll of paper, stuck on the wall or white board with a simple character drawn onto it. It could be used to ask the students to stick a post-it onto about how they think the character feels at a particular moment in the play, or to describe his or her character.
Roll 1: Caliban (the 'monster' in The Tempest)
Roll 2: Hamlet
. (Hamlet)
Roll 3: Miranda (The Tempest)

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Co-operative skills: 10 second freeze frames

Ten second Freeze frames:

This activity is very versatile and can be used in the context of any story. Here, it is used to ask groups of students to make a castle with their bodies. Students have very little time (10 seconds) to think about how to execute the idea. This is to keep the activity fast-moving and fun. Students need to work co-operatively to be successful.

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Below is an example of an in-role letter. The student (female) is pretending to be Demetrius (male) from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream", writing to his beloved Hermia. Hermia, however, doesn't love him. She wants to marry Lysander, whom her father dislikes. This letter is a good example of the student imagining a situation in relationship to Act 1 of the play.
This activity is a result of using the active approach to teaching Shakespeare through drama.

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