One of the (many!) wonderful things about theater is that the magic becomes real on stage. Fantastic stories are brought to life in the most inventive and interesting ways to keep the audience spellbound. Many theatrical performances involve magical creatures such as giants, and they are all created differently. So today’s challenge for your students is…how would they create a giant on stage?
This exercise combines teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, technical challenges, writing and acting. It’s a real artistic challenge!
Share example stories with giants such as Jack and the Beanstalk, David’s father (Robert Munsch), The selfish giant (Oscar Wilde), Clifford, the Big Red Dog (Norman Bridwell), The Iron Giant (Ted Hughes) and The BFG (Roald Dahl). Show clips of theatrical performances featuring giants and gigantic creatures such as Giants in the Sky, In the forest, King Kong, Beetlejuice, and Peter and the Starcatcher. What other books, comics, television shows, or movies have your students seen that involve giants?
1. Divide students into groups of four to six.
2. Ask each group to choose a short scene from a story where a character meets a giant and write an adaptation of that scene for the stage. (Adaptation is the process of translating a literary source, such as a short story or poem, into another genre or medium—in this case, a theater scene to be performed on stage.) Aim for two to three pages.
3. Once they have written their scene, the students must present the performance in their group and discover the staging. Every student must be involved in the performance in some capacity (either on stage or in a technical area).
4. Students must decide how they will stage the giant. Some ideas might include:
- Lighting (shadows, shadow puppets, etc.)
- Props and/or scenery (oversized or miniature)
- Sound effects
- Staging options (for example, pretending the giant is offstage and asking the actors to look up at where the giant is)
- A combination of many of these ideas!
You may need to remind students that television shows and movies often use CGI (computer-generated imagery) to create giants in those environments, and that’s not available for a live performance.
5. Students must rehearse and memorize lines and staging. These should include some basic costumes and props. The groups will then present their scenes to the rest of the class.
6. After all groups have performed, each student will complete and submit an individual reflection.
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage fighter from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.
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