The Original Plan for 4.1-4.2

If today happened exactly as I thought it would, we would still have acted through 4.1 and 4.2.  However, we would have then focused on subtext.

Now there are various ways that subtext is defined.  We would have worked with the following definition:

Subtext can refer to the thoughts and motives of the characters.  It is the content underneath the spoken dialogue.  (Under dialogue, there can be conflict, anger, competition, pride, showing off, or other ideas and emotions.)  Subtext is the unspoken thoughts and motives of characters – what they really think and believe.

To start to get the idea, we would start with something simple.  The sentence “I’m glad you’re here” would have been written on the board.  We would then explore how the meaning of the sentence changes every time you choose to stress a different word in the sentence.  If I stress “I’m,” the message that I’m communicating non-verbally is that I personally am glad that you are here; others may or may not be happy about your presence.  However, if I stress the word “you’re,” I’m communicating that out of all the other people present it’s you that I’m happy to see.

Students would have then been paired up for the next activity.  Each pair would have been given the following set of lines:

Character 1: You’re late.

Character 2: I know.  I couldn’t help it.

Character 1: I understand.

Character 2: I thought you would.

Character 1: I have something to give you.

Character 2: Really?

Character 1: Yes, this.

Now, even though every group has the same lines, they don’t have the same scenario.  Scenarios included:

  • Two friends: The late friend has just arrived at what will be a surprise party for him/her
  • Pizza delivery man and customer: The pizza deliverer is late.
  • Bride and groom: One has arrived late for the wedding.
  • Spies: They are meeting secretly to exchange information.
  • Teacher and student: The student is handing in a paper late.

After a little time to practice skits, groups would perform.  For each skit, we would focus on examining what each character thinking while delivering the lines.  Afterwards, we would look at the tools the actors used to get their thinking (or subtext!) across.  These could be things like:

  • The emphasis placed on certain words
  • Inflection
  • Pauses for emphasis
  • Non-verbal communication, such as gestures, postures, the presence or absence of eye contact, etc.

Finally, we would have returned to the text.  For each of the scenes we looked at in class, we would have examined subtext for one character.  Students would have recorded their thinking on this graphic organizer (4.1-4.2 – Subtext Homework).

Alas, not this year.  Maybe next year. :)


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