A Rationale for Drama

Drama texts are directly included in the English-Language Arts curriculum.  It is only fitting that drama is an effective educational tool within that framework.  In studying the quality of words, drama is a direct encompassment of the curriculum. Drama gives life to words on a page.  When studying words – arrangement, context, diction, meaning – it’s essential to truly understand them, individually and in conjunction with each other.  By studying drama, students learn what words mean.  

For example, when students in my classes prepare and deliver Macbeth’s monologue at the end of Act 1 of The Tragedy of Macbeth, they aren’t just showing they have read the scene; they are demonstrating understanding of a character who is willing to throw his life away for nothing more than his ambition; they are demonstrating understanding of the inner voices of a person and his motivation for action; they are demonstrating critical thinking in their delivery of Shakespeare’s diction as they discuss articulation  and movement choices; and they are demonstrating collaboration in their choices of how to block or stage the action of the scene. This skillset demonstrates what Kellie Molden (2007) defines as critical literacy. In providing students the opportunity to explore their interaction with Shakespeare’s text, their experience becomes a richer and more meaningful experience. According to Molden, “…critical literacy helps pull the power away from the author and makes it an equal relationship between the author and the reader by allowing us to see the texts from all angles” (2007).  These students essentially “own” Macbeth. And in doing so, they own their learning.

The beauty of drama, beyond the experience of it, is that it demands these complexities of understanding from the actors.  That’s why drama is included in the central texts studied in my curriculum. I connect to Augosto Boal’s philosophy that drama “should deal with real life experiences, situations or issues of people” (Kemeh 2019).  Boal’s notion that “theatre must help people learn about each other, work together, heal and grow (change attitudes, transform)” resonates with me. In studying literature, in studying the quality of words, I recognize the opportunity for learning that drama offers.  I’ve found drama has the capacity to inform, educate, influence and inspire an audience through the personal experience of a performance.

Using Drama in the ELA Curriculum

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