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Drama and the Education of Youth

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AWSNA Waldorf High School Research Project
by Eric G. Müller

Role of the Director
Choice of Play
Drama as a Support to the Curriculum Drama Club 9th, 10th, 11th,12th Grade
Student Experiences

A deepening and broadening of dramatic work with adolescents is essential in our time, because experience and investigation shows that the positive transformative effects on high school students through drama is tremendous, and that without the implementation of a well rounded drama program they will have missed out on an integral part of their education – an education that purports to lay down firm foundations for life. This study covers and examines the most essential aspects that will help facilitate such deepening.

The importance of the director’s/pedagogue’s role is thoroughly explored, focusing on how it translates into practice with the students. The nature of a production or dramatic project will be largely determined by the director’s ability to envision and his capacity to enthuse, and whether or not he seeks to be guided by the formative forces of the spirit.

The choice of play, like casting, is of vital importance both to the individual student and to the class as a whole. A thorough and intuitive knowledge of the students, coupled with a natural sense for the needs of the adolescents as they pass through their different stages of development, will influence the outcome. It takes a listening ear on the part of the director to arrive at the right choices, for the students do express their needs, overtly and otherwise – and class participation has its rightful place.

This research also makes it abundantly clear that there are overwhelming needs in regard to speech, which demand to be addressed if the desired deepening is to be achieved. Moreover, the work on movement, posture, and gesture has to be dealt with as scrupulously, because many of the young people are in danger of losing their right, i.e. natural connection to their bodies – either incarnating too strongly, or not enough.
Recognizing that it is the dramatist who confronts us during adolescence we have to ensure that the students receive as much as possible in the way of drama during their high school years. It can and does serve as a tremendous support to the curriculum. But its potential has not yet been sufficiently tapped or explored. Apart from the drama club and the scheduled plays in 10th and 12th grade, certain main lessons and run through classes in each of the grades lend themselves to dramatic activity. For instance: improvisations based the study of the temperaments in 9th grade, debates in the 10th grade, Shakespearean monologues in the 11th grade, and the acting out of fairy tales in the 12th grade, are just some of the examples showing how drama can be implemented in order to satisfy the dramatic drive of the adolescent.

Furthermore, suggestions regarding the enlivening aspect of music are presented – there is nothing like music to enhance the dramatic work, be it as appropriate accompaniment in plays or in the form of full blown musicals. The musical life of the entire school is positively influenced, its refreshing effects felt in every classroom, and in the community as such.

Observing the cathartic effects drama has on students, and listening to their candid responses, more than justifies the enormous effort that goes into the production of a successful play. Drama can serve as a powerful medium for public outreach, and – if the needed depth is attained – can mirror all aspects of human life, affecting the students to their core, if one is bold and willing enough to illumine the contents from a spiritual point of view.

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