One of my Year 8 Drama classes is currently researching Broadway costume and scenic designers. The task involves them researching the designer’s life, education and career in the theatre, including locating text, images and videos of their work. Along the way, students must decide which production/s the designer is best known in the industry for? All text must be in the student’s own words and the final project is submitted in the form of a website using Apple’s iWeb. In this example, the site is not published to the web, but uploaded to the school’s content management system Moodle, for teacher assessment.
This theatre design project has opened up a whole new world for many of the 14 year-old girls in the class. Not only have they learned about the importance of costume and scenic design in the theatre, but everyone learned that at their age, nearly all of them have only been exposed to musical theatre, most of it originating from Broadway. They also learned what a Tony Award is and even though all of them had visited the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) many times before, they have now discovered there is an Internet Broadway Database (IMDB as well!
Their avenue into this task involved choosing a favourite stage musical, preferably one they had seen themselves in the theatre, and then decide upon their favourite aspect of the show – sets, costumes or lighting. From here, students researched the various designers for the show’s original or local run. No students in the class chose to research a lighting designer, probably because at their age the lighting in a stage show is not as tangible to access and understand as sets or costumes.
Here’s a few designers my Year 8 students are currently researching: