Mantle of the Expert
The students become characters endowed with some kind of specialist knowledge that is relevant to a specific dramatic situation or problem. Roles might include: historians, social workers, advertising executives, playground designers, mountain climbers, etc. The dramatic situation or problem is usually task-oriented and these expert understandings or skills are required to perform the task. As a result, learners feel respected by having expert status and insights and an understanding of different occupations are explored. This kind of work can also open up a felt NEED for further research or background information.
Example: The teacher, in role as a museum director, wants to commission a short documentary film about the history of the Alamo. The students, in role as film makers, are asked to create this “film” through their own research and reenactments of various events. (Several drama-based lessons follow this intro.)
Example: The teacher, in role as the Big Bad Wolf, has hired the students, in role as a team of lawyers, to defend him in court. Students must research legal procedures, create evidence, and present the case.
Example: When considering the needs of older adults in their community, the teacher (in role as the town mayor) asks her students, who are in the role of a group of architects, to research the community’s needs. After reporting back, the “architects” are then given the task of designing a suitable living environment for older adults.
Example: The teacher, in role as an anxious school board member, is concerned about the number of young drug-users in her community, and seeks the help of a group of advertisers (SIR). The current anti-drug publicity is not working and the group is asked to design a campaign that does. (Obviously research would be needed to complete this in-role task.)
Describe: How did it feel to step into this expert’s shoes?
Analyze: What new insights did you gain about this kind of expert?
Relate: What other issues/ factors might impact experts in this field?
“How might a group with this kind of expertise greet a client?"
"How would the room be arranged? How would they sit or stand?”
Neelands, Jonothan, and Tony Goode. Structuring Drama Work: A Handbook of Available Forms in Theatre and Drama. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.
Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. Action Strategies for Deepening Comprehension. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2002. Print.