Mapping Geographies of Home
Mapping Geographies of Home invites students to map and perform their literal and figurative understanding of home on an imagined map on the floor. This activity asks students to think about how the construction of home is culturally situated and invites students to engage with and consider multiple experiences, perspectives, and definitions of home.
Teach the strategy: Defines the outer boundaries of a large, open, playing space and orient a compass rose on the space for north, south, east, and west; this is the imagined “map.” Introduce the strategy: I will give a series of prompts. You will respond by placing yourself as your answer on the map in the space that best represents your answer. Explain that the map is very flexible and space/distance between locations will have to be flexible too. Begin the strategy. If our current space is located at the center of an imagined map, please stand on the location – or one location – where you currently live. Once placed, invite students to name where they are standing. Next, ask: If our current space is located at the center of an imagined map, please stand where you were born. Once placed, invite students to name where they are standing; some might shift in response to what others share. Finally, ask: If our current space is located at the center of an imagined map, please stand at one of the physical spaces that you call home, recognizing that there may be more than one. This could be a place where you have spent a lot of time, or a physical space that you feel is “home” although you may have never been there. Once placed, invite students to name where they are standing.
Explore the strategy: Next, ask students to create a gesture, which offers an abstract or concrete representation of the physical space that they call “home.” Then ask all participants to perform their gesture at the same time as a rehearsal. Next, invite each student to pair up with another person near them on the virtual map, and teach them your gesture. Then, put the gestures together in a sequence. Finally, each pair is grouped with another pair. The group of four works together to create a final performance that includes all four gestures in a sequence of shared choreography. The activity closes with each group sharing its performance of “home” for the full group, while the students respond to what they see. Have each group shares their choreographed sequence through two times. Then, invite the audience to “popcorn” out one word that sticks with them–those words might be an emotion, an idea or an action that they saw represented or that they felt.
- What did you notice about yourself in this activity? What did you notice about the group?
- How did our map shift and change as we moved between imaginary map locations?
- What is home? What shapes our understanding of home?
- Ask students to map more complex ideas, e.g., Stand on the location where you first felt a feeling of love. Stand on the location of a place you would never want to visit.
- Reading/Writing: Have students play as a character from history or from literature or from a play.
- Social Studies: Using the first part of this activity, have students review geography and/or the location of different key events in history.
Drama For Schools (DFS); Jan Cohen-Cruz; Omi Osun Olum