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Blocking the Scene Pirate Style

Context for this Lesson

Teaching Strategies: 

Topic: Stage Directions & Blocking
Purpose: To review/teach the stage directions and consider how they might be used in theatre
Prior Knowledge: None

  • Pirate hat
  • "Treasure" to bury
  • Paper
  • Markers/pens
  • Slip of paper inviting class to pirate meeting
  • Slip of paper explaining parameters of the map
  • Sample drawing of what map could look like
  • Basic map of area

Review of Stage Directions
Welcome everyone. We have a very exciting day ahead us but before we begin we need to do a little review just to make sure that we all have a common vocabulary. Let’s all stand up. Now I would like you all to imagine that we are in a theatre. This will be the audience (point to where the audience is) and this is the stage (point to where the stage is). Now I invite you all to stand downstage center looking out at the audience. Wonderful! Now let’s try upstage center. Go through SL, SR, DR, DL, C, etc
Transition: Now I’d like you all to…( look confused) Where on earth did this come from? (Reveal weathered looking paper tacked to the wall that invites class to the meeting) All gather around poster that has until now been hidden.


Activity 1: Artifact
Reveal giant weathered looking paper tacked to the wall that invites class to the meeting.
D: What do you see? (Have students physically describe the notice)
A: What does this notice tell us or ask of us? Who is invited?
R: Who might attend this meeting?
Transition: I’d like you all to close your eyes and imagine that you are all at this meeting. Decide on a character that you would like to take on that might be at this meeting. It can be one that we just discussed or another that you would like to explore that is likely to attend this meeting. When you are ready you may open your eyes. After giving them a moment to all open their eyes.  Wonderful so everyone has an idea in their head of what character they are going to take on? Now when I put on my pirate hat we will all transform into our characters and be at the meeting. (Put on hat)
Activity 2: Meeting of the Minds
Sharing information: Alas, you have arrived. So good to see the lot of you. If we can just go around first and introduce yourselves. If you can tell me your name, what brings you here, and what kind of experience you have. After all introduce themselves… Thanks for comin’ on such short notice. Me map maker, Squirrelly Dan, has stolen me ship and left me in much need of help. That rascal might have gotten me ship but I had already unloaded my treasure. Harharhar! But alas Mateys, here lies my problem. Squirrelly Dan will be back as soon as he realizes that the treasure is gone so I need your help hiding it. You will need to make me a map of course so I can find me treasure again. Here is the catch I write me maps in the old way of me father the Pirate King, you might have heard of him. He was the greatest pirate of all of Penzance. Well anyway we write our maps with stage direction.
Transition: I am going to split you all into two teams when I finish with these directions. Each team will be responsible for creating their own map and hiding their own treasure.
Activity 3: Make the map
In your map you must include at least 10 stage directions and include a compass rose of stage directions. So in other words you will not draw a compass of North, South, East, and West. But include where the audience is, SR, SL, Upstage Center, etc. Use projector to show class an example. … Does everyone understand? Well shiver me timbers it looks like my treasure be in good hands! Now let’s divide you into two halves. (Divide the class into two teams.) Alright Mateys, lets bury me treasure. Can I get an aye aye captain?
Alright lads and lasses here be my treasure. A bag for you both. (hand a bag of treasure to each team) And here is some markers and paper. (Hand out paper and markers.) Make sure to introduce yourself to your group. Once you have completed your maps, hide me treasure and bring back the map to me. Any questions? (include pirate sidecoaching that will encourage characters) After questions are answered, the teams create their maps and hide the treasure. Once both teams are back gather back together.
Well shiver me timbers these look like some wondrous maps you Mateys have made me. You all look smart as paint, but just to make sure you aren’t swindling me out of my treasure I would like to set up a test. I’d like for both teams to switch maps and see if you can follow them to my treasure. (Each team would follow the map while teacher and class watches.) 
Transition: That was great. Thanks for solving my problem I can sleep soundly knowing that my treasure is safe. G’day Mateys. Take pirate hat off and step out of role. Let’s gather together and discuss what we just did.


Describe: What did we do today?
Analyze: Out of what we did today, what helped you gain the knowledge of stage directions and why?
Relate: How might we apply the knowledge we learned today in a theatre production? What does it mean to stage a production in different theatre spaces?

Extensions/Applications : 

1. Hand out a 1 minute scenes and have the class, in groups of three, block the scene. They should write out the stage directions and then perform it for the class. All three groups will have the same scene but it will be blocked different ways. We will talk broadly about the effectiveness of amounts, types, and reasons for stage movement.
2. Homework- Chose a task that involves lots of movement that you commonly such as getting ready in the morning and walking home from school. Write out what stage directions you might use to direct someone to copy your same routine.