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Tech Theatre class.....with no tech

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by misterm, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. misterm

    misterm Active Member

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    So this year, I have been tasked with teaching Theatre production. A little background:
    -Our system's auditorium is across town.
    -Subsequently so are the majority of our scenic materials (tools, lumber...) and lighting.
    -I will have anywhere from 25 to 35 students
    -Who CANNOT be required to work after school on a production or at Saturday build days (has to be voluntary)
    -And I was informed today that we cannot use power tools.
    So.....any ideas on projects/lessons I can use in a techless technical theatre class?
     
  2. dbaxter

    dbaxter Well-Known Member

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    Since it appears to be a classroom experience, you will have to go with a lot of theory. But you should be able to come up with a semester's worth. You can teach about lighting theory - inverse square, beam spread, mounting angles, effects of color on different surfaces, etc. There are PC simulators for many of the popular lighting consoles. For sound you could talk about speaker sizes, dynamic range, compression, equalization, wireless technologies. Construction might include flat construction, material strengths, fastening techniques. Costume design, sewing. Painting methods - bring in the art teacher to show texturing and wood graining.

    As a side note - if they can't use power tools does that mean you are expected to build by yourself? At the HS I consult with, we only let the experienced folks near the saw, but everybody learns how to handle a battery operated drill and screwdriver. Just that can help a lot.
     
  3. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Do a lot of design. Teach them drafting and script analysis, they can design a show on paper doing all the light plot and all of the scenic elements. If you have access to water colors or something, you can also teach paint elevations and renderings. Pretty easy final project, pick your show or assign one and at the end they turn in all the paperwork, design statements, pricing out needed materials, budget management etc.
     
  4. microstar

    microstar Well-Known Member

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    You can still demonstrate how to build a standard flat by pre-cutting all the pieces and bringing them to your classroom. Give them the desired size, the names of the parts, and have them do a cutting list after explaining lumber dimensions.
     
  5. Timothy A. Samuelson

    Timothy A. Samuelson Active Member

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    About to deal with the same situation. I will have a class of about 20 students once a week for two hours after school. Their auditorium is only a few hundred feet from the classroom, but no students are allowed in the catwalk. They have a scene shop attached to the classroom, but no students allowed to use power tools. I've decided on a lot of theory. I'm going to teach how to properly hang a fixture on a set of trees I've got that can be set up in the classroom. We'll be focusing mostly on the design of the spring show. That way, we can do script analysis, scenic, lighting, and sound design, management. Construction techniques. As much as I hate being the only one to build the set and hang a plot, I'm hoping the administration will realize how important teaching tech is and then open the doors a little bit more in the future. Until this point, the school had no form of technical instruction and were actually losing students to other schools that did. Good Luck!
     
  6. LavaASU

    LavaASU Active Member

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    Can you at least bring a couple of lights to the classroom to show how they work, gels, color mixing, ect?
     
  7. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Sherpa CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    When I was in school, the tech theater class was "how" to do it, but not really doing it. The theater and all of our productions was an extra-curricular activity which was done outside of school hours (until I was able to do independent study as an upper classman, allowing me to build during school hours). Even in college, building was not part of the class, but there was separate classes for production work. So, this shouldn't really need to be a challenge.
     
  8. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

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    I like to take a show like Almost Maine and assign two or three students to each scene. From there they need to determine their set needs, props, costumes, lighting, and sound effects. This should be a multi-day assignment.

    Also, see if you can get a couple lights set up in your room so you can discuss hanging and lighting angles. Have them use one or two fixtures to recreate the lighting that they see in a black and white picture. Get into a mac-lab that has garage band and have them design sound effects for a show, or even just have them put together an appropriate pre-show music playlist for show.

    One thing you can consider, is having any volunteer time count as an 'independent project' Assign them one independent project per quarter that must be pre-approved by you. It can either be independent show design, prop building, board operating, etc. 5 hours on a light hang and focus sounds pretty equal to writing a dramaturgical hand out for a show. This way they can choose to either work on a show and write a paragraph, or do a paper. This way it's their decision. I plan to implement this next year as most of my kids chose to take a zero. I will be giving this a higher weight on their grade and making it due earlier in the semester so they don't wait until the last minute.


    Also, talk to the school board about students using drills. equate them to electric screw drivers. I've never had a student hurt herself using a drill any worse than they will with a regular flat-head.
     
    robartsd likes this.
  9. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I agree completely and I've never had a student hurt themselves. BUT I was in a rush one time, and lifted off a screw for a fraction of a second while holding something pretty tightly in place and ended up driving a Phillips bit pretty hard into my finger for longer than I would have liked. It was one of the more "chewed up" moments I've had in my shop. So it's possible. The odds though are certainly good enough that use should at least be on the table.
     
  10. misterm

    misterm Active Member

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    Thanks everybody. I've taught the class before, mostly the design portion and even then on a very rudimentary level. It was interspersed with lots of theatre history and literature. This year I was told I could make it a true technical theatre course. So we'll be hanging lights and programing (as much as possible) in class as well as exploring design a lot deeper. I think we'll build model flats with glue so the students can build model sets when we get to that point (and also spend a week or so designing in Sketchup). I'm not a costumer much, but I'm thinking about teaching Bunraku-style puppetry and have them design costumes onto their puppets ("Man of La Mancha" ala Bunraku, anybody?). Thanks for the suggestions, I'll definitely be using a lot of this!
     
  11. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

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    I also am not a costumer, but one assignment I do that the kids get into is I split the class into groups of 4 and each group selects a fairy tale (cinderella, snow white, hansel and gretel, etc.). each student then has to design costumes for their own concept of the show.
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I taught a college intro to tech theater class at a college with no theater. It's easy just focus on design and find ways to do little demos of things in class.

    I distributed copies of Live Design/Stage Directions/L&S America and we opened every class with a student giving a short report on something they found interesting in the magazine... and I elaborated and explained the details.

    Teach how to do lighting design with art. "If this painting was a set, how would the lighting have to be placed to get this look"?

    Teach set design with fairy tales. Example: We are all designing sets for 3 little pigs this time. It is an extremely budget production in a very small community theater space. The stage is only 25 wide x 20 deep with a 12 foot ceiling. How are you going to fit the three houses into the space and destroy two of them. Then have students report their design ideas with simple sketches and discuss them together in class.
     
  13. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

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    I just typed this up in greater detail for a different thread.

    Just as a heads up, My classes are 90 minutes long and meet every other day so you will need to adjust accordingly. Also, I am not a costumer so this the best I have been able to come up with based on the one day long costume unit I had in college.

    Day 1: This year I started my unit by discussing the difference between a costume and a regular outfit. We talked about the different considerations that a designer needs to keep in mind when building a costume (how long is the run of the show, will the actor over heat, is this going to be a quick change, does the costume have to hid under another costume, etc) Then I show them a bonus feature from the Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire blu-ray which shows what goes into costuming and make-up on the Hollywood level. After wards I assign them each a district and they design costumes for their 'tributes' to wear during the chariot ride sequence.

    Day 2: I have them upload their designs to a Google presentation and then we go through and discuss how effective their choices were at conveying their tributes district.
    Here are the Designs from this year. As you can see, some are much better than others, so the discussion that occurs while viewing the presentation is the important part here. This took the first half of class. After wards I had them brain storm a large list of fairy tales or fables. Stories that everyone in the class knew. Examples from this year: Snow White, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Romeo and Juliet, Shrek, Beauty and the Beast, ETC. Once we have a list of around 20 or so I split the kids into four groups and they select their show. They then have to come up with a 'concept' for their piece (modern day, in a high school, 15th century germany, gotham city, the future, the pokemon universe, gender swapped, etc.) and design 5 costumes from the show to fit the concept. I need to approve their concept paragraph and their five costumes before they can proceed.

    Day 3: Students come to class with their concept paragraphs. Once their concept is approved, they are given class time to work on The Official Assignment.

    Day 4: Present projects. Students explain their concept to the class and I question the students decisions and open up for questions from the class. At this point I will collect completed projects and grade them based on a Simple Rubric, and I will send incomplete, or hastily completed projects back with the students to Re-Do.

    Let me know if I left anything out or if you have any suggestions.
     

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