A Play in a Day
On Saturday 5th November, IB English Literature candidates undertook a great drama challenge: to create a play in a day. The play, Arthur Miller’s ‘A View From the Bridge,’ was chosen for pupils to adapt into a short performance, entirely planned, scripted, rehearsed and acted within eight hours. Miller made it clear he was writing a modern Greek tragedy and so the play neatly illuminates many other IB texts such as Antigone and Macbeth. Although highly edited, the script allowed pupils to explore the key concepts of the play and experience some of the dramatic tensions that Miller creates. Although the class/cast were not ‘actors’ in any established sense, they clearly demonstrated that with confidence, energy and extreme focus it is perfectly possible to step into a role and present it with conviction to an audience.
The challenge is intended to deepen their knowledge of the play that they have been studying for the past few weeks, allowing them to better interpret the text, stage directions and characters’ emotions. This was an excellent opportunity for pupils to get involved with different aspects of Drama and English and to study using a different approach. Plays, of course, are meant to be acted and even a highly condensed version with scenes stripped to the bare minimum and actions reduced to a few polished gestures, can still evoke great drama. The project, run by Mrs Standen and Mr Lowden had many dazzling reviews by pupils:
“One thing I wished to do before I left school was to act one final time. This wish came true with the Play in a Day. It was an amazing experience to just — in one day — bring our entire class together and work on creating a drama production. This has also allowed for a very close and extensive reading and analysis of this extremely well-crafted play. After reading other texts which span a range of places and times in class, I now understand the importance of studying the commonality between different texts to possibly discern what is a universal trait of human existence.” – Justin
“This was a brilliant opportunity given to us by Mrs Standen and Mr Lowden to help better understand the play we had just studied. Reading a manuscript and trying to interpret how the stage directions play out with conversations between characters gives baseline insight into the story and possible emotions these characters experience. But it pales in comparison to ‘getting into character’ and experiencing the play as a cast member (seeing their facial features and body language). This elevates the emotion and dynamics to another level when experienced, an unforgettable lesson that will most definitely be remembered, especially at the peak of my exams.” – Nelson
“This was a very exciting opportunity as drama productions were very minimal during the pandemic years. Being able to recreate the play really helped me understand the emotions and choices of the characters in a way that reading the script does not convey, and prepared me to analyse the literary aspects during my exams. I think the production helped me develop more confidence in front of an audience and public speaking.” – Savannah
“Learning everything in a day was a big challenge, but it was also fun. There were lots of laughs and funny moments, as well as stressful times. My favourite part of the day had to be when we finally got everything in order and we were able to run it through smoothly. It felt like a major accomplishment to have been able to learn and perform a pretty good play in only one day.” – Janika