I have decided this year to give my current Year 12 drama students the topic of modern-day witch-hunts as the basis of their first major assessment piece.
This ensemble performance will be in small or medium-sized groups and completely researched, written and directed by the students themselves. Normally, performances last between 20 and 40 minutes duration.
The prescribed performance style is non-naturalism (non-realism) with aspects of epic theatre and its conventions, as popularised by German theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht.
Various modern-day witch-hunts are listed in the task and groups are to choose one of these witch-hunts as the basis of their student-driven performance. The full task is below with a pdf version at the end of the post. If you are a drama or theatre teacher yourself, feel free to download it and adapt it for use with your own students, or use it as is.
Year 12 Drama Ensemble Performance
THE MODERN-DAY WITCH-HUNT
Definitions (various sources)
A campaign directed against a person or group holding unorthodox or unpopular views.
A campaign of persecution launched on the pretext of investigating activities subversive to the state and/or community.
An investigation carried out ostensibly to uncover subversive activities but actually used to harass or undermine those with differing views.
An intensive effort to discover and expose disloyalty, subversion, dishonesty, or the like, usually based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence.
The act of seeking and persecuting any perceived enemy, particularly when the search is conducted using extreme measures and with little regard to actual guilt or innocence.
Your group is to select one of the following modern-day witch-hunts to use as the basis of your ensemble performance. Investigate the witch-hunt that occurred and dramatise the characters and events surrounding it.
- Julian Assange and WikiLeaks
- Muslims in America post 9/11
- David Hicks and Guantanamo Bay
- Climate change skeptics
- Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese elections
- Illegal aliens in the US
- Salman Rushdie and The Satanic Verses
Non-naturalism with aspects of epic theatre.
Language, symbol, space.
Transformation of place, transformation of character, transformation of object, disjointed time sequences (flash-forwards and flashbacks), plus various epic theatre conventions.