Process over Product. Product over Process. This is a discussion many Drama educators have to deal with. Products with Theater classes are the performances, scripts, set designs, etc: the end results that culminate with something that can be assessed for grades, portfolios and transcripts, and normally for a larger sharing then just the normal day to day classes. The process part gets you there, and it still has it’s points where assessment of the ongoing work is visible and viable.
Process Drama is an ongoing delving into a storyline, based usually on a theme &/or subject. The students and teacher explore their subject matter In Role, and this does not run for just a couple of classes. I have run Process Dramas that have taken months due to the interaction, twists and turns, and new thoughts that the students have brought into the situations. Sometimes the discoveries take the work into an area that wasn’t initially planned, and this leads to new learning, new ideas. There is no wrong idea when you are creating.
When using actual historical action and theory, deep research needs to be explored, facts integrated into the ongoing interactions, to really examine how decisions were arrived at, how conclusions were made, and why. When the idea behind the work is more abstract, there is not always a “final answer.” Decisions, opinions vs. facts, looking at the story idea through various points of view (POV), and more can foster and hone critical thinking, leaps into creative problem solving, and opening up dialogue that may have never entered their consciousness.
The 9 session program that just ended for me was theme driven. It was not run in a Drama classroom, but an English class where they had read the book The Bully already and had started The Outsiders. Using the abstract ideas of bullying, the students went into role, working out the different sides and view points of a small community afflicted with an event that went too far.
This past Monday, the students had a chance to discuss all that had occurred during the previous eight sessions. They talked about their learning moments:
- how it felt to be in the shoes of someone else;
- how switching roles, after playing one part for a number of sessions, caused some confusion, some a different sense of power, and some to really see how it feels to be on the other end;
- how easy it is to be blamed for something when you are just associated with a group;
- how easy it is to just yell and over talk one another so nothing can ever be solved;
- how writing a journal of their feelings in and out of character created questions and connections they may not have had before;
- how having to problem solve, without using any form of violence, brought them to some new view points
They all agreed that this is not always a black and white problem. There are considerations of WHY the bully is a bully, under what circumstances the power role reverses, and how bullying is NOT just a problem for students but also with the adults in society.
Parents, siblings, teachers, police, politicians, business people (at all levels): all have their instances of bullying, of people becoming bullies in different situations, of power shifts and socio/economic shifts. So..we discussed what can be done in the schools.
What can be done with adult bullies? Have you been an adult bully? Why?
Part 2: I will discuss of the feedback, my learning curve during this process, and a few other tidbits.