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Tried and Tested - Get into gear

Subject: Drama

Lesson: Stuck in a jam

Ages: GCSE groups aged 14-16

Supplied by: Dan Clay, supply teacher in Greater Manchester

1. What is it?

A lesson on creating a simple individual role-play and shaping it to form a whole-class piece of drama.

2. Who is it aimed at?

You could use it with key stage 3 pupils, but I've found that the best results come from my GCSE groups.

3. What do you want the lesson to achieve?

It encourages pupils to rely on character rather than plot to engage the audience.

4. What happens in the lesson?

Hand out a card for each pupil with a picture of a car on it. From that, they have to deduce, without resorting to stereotypes, the kind of driver who might be found behind the wheel of their car. After discussing ideas as a class, pupils break off into their own area to create a "role-on-the-wall" for their driver, outlining as many characteristics as possible that form the person.

5. What comes next?

Pupils prepare a still image to start their improvisations of this driver stuck in a traffic jam. They are given five minutes to work on this, perform it to the class and develop it into a more structured 75-word monologue. When all the pupils have this ready, they are given a queue position and a space. The drama begins with the first pupil in role acting, and then develops as each pupil performs their monologue while remaining in role, silent but active, throughout the time they are not speaking.

6. Why would you recommend this to other teachers?

It seems to bring out a creative side in pupils, as they have all witnessed their parents' behaviour behind the wheel, and the boredom of being stuck in a traffic jam. I've found it an easy way to help create a character, develop an interesting situation for them, and show the character at a particular point of tension.

7. Give us three top tips

- This may stretch into two lessons, so be flexible.

- The teacher must know the order of the monolouges and act as a kind of traffic warden, pointing to the relevant character when it is their turn to perform.

- Video it. The pupils love watching their work back and the knowledge they will be filmed produces better drama.

8. Useful resources

- Video clips of the episodes "Beast in the Cage" from One Foot in the Grave, "Hole" from Bottom and any of The Royle Family to introduce the idea of how characters respond to being trapped or inactive.

- Google images or car manufacturer websites for the pictures you might need, or try, which shows them off at their best.

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