11/26/2011

How have you used DRAMA in your lessons to explore the lives of the Native North American people in the late 19th century?

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How have you used DRAMA in your lessons to explore the lives of the Native North American people in the late 1th century?


In our Drama lesson sessions we have been learning about the Native North American Indians. We watched the film “Dances With Wolves” which was about an American soldier who was sent to a remote outpost, he found that he was all-alone and no-one else was coming to help him. A group of Sioux Indians were settled nearby and they saw him dancing around his campfire with a wolf he had befriended. The soldier went to help the native Indians find the buffalo that they were dependant on for food and clothing and was soon made part of the tribe. He gave them weapons and was soon married to one of their women.


We also gathered information on the Native North Americans in a booklet. In this booklet we added pictures of the different Indian tribes including Sioux and Cheyenne, information on how they lived and objects and remedies that they used. The booklet was a factual reference guide that helped us to gain further knowledge on the lifestyle of the Indians and together with the film added to our study of the culture. The film helped us to look at the lifestyle in a living, dramatic way.


In our Drama lessons we explored the subject of the Indians further using a whole variety of drama techniques to understand and to empathise with these native people. .In one lesson we discussed how the Indians lived in conflict with the white settlers. We got into groups and used the drama techniques of improvisation and mime to show an Indian ritual or an aspect of their lifestyle. Our group chose to show a major part of the lifestyle. We began by using a freeze-frame; this is a frozen picture showing the scene or an event. In our freeze-frame we had used levels to add interest. One person was standing up representing authority and power , while the others were sitting in a circle, they have a lower status in the group so they were set lower. Through the freeze-frame we could capture the way that the native Indians respected each other and their leaders and the way they were calm and orderly.


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In another lesson we were thinking about how the white settlers misunderstood the Native Americans. In pairs we used role-play to discover how the white settlers would talk about the Indians. Role-play is a good technique to use because you have to get into role and stay in role, you have to think very quickly and sustain the role. In my pair we role-played two small children playing “cowboys and Indians”, during the exercise I was a cowboy and my partner was an Indian. Half way through we stopped and thought tracked as our characters (this is when you say what the character is thinking at the time the scene is stopped) My thought tracking included “ Stupid Indian, I’m so much better than you”. This made me really feel how the two characters felt, it also helped as I listened to other thoughts around the room, they showed the difference between the two groups. I could really feel how the Indians were treated and I could feel how the settlers felt about them.


We also used the technique of mime. During a lesson we gave each other Indian names. My Indian name was “graceful teacher” because I like dancing and I always try to help people. We had to mime out our names to the class to guess. Mime is acting without speech or sound, you have to over emphasise your movements and facial expressions. It was a bit like a game of charades. We had to communicate with the class without speaking and this made me think really hard about how hard communication can be. It must have been very difficult for the Indians to communicate with the white settlers. We extended this exercise and acted out a settler entering an Indian camp. We had to add gesture to help our communication. Some gestures are universal to the worlds population such as a smile or a frown but some were special to each culture.


Through using Drama techniques we have been able to explore the subject of Native American Indians. I could begin to empathise with their culture and lifestyle and realise things that I had not realised just by reading the resource booklet or watching the film. I began to feel their pain, anguish and frustration as I acted out the various situations and got a real feeling for the way they lived their lives.





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