Shakespeare – Module 2: Elizabethan and Jacobean Theatre – 3 of 3

Hello Year 7 and Year 8! In the last blog post, you found out lots about what the theatre was like when Shakespeare was writing. In the final blog of this section, before we start looking at any of Shakespeare’s plays, we need to consider a very important question: what is a play? In this blog, we will focus on the conventions of a play script. What makes a play script different from other forms of writing?

WHAT: exploring the conventions of a play script.

By the end of this session you will be able to:

✓ list the conventions (features) of a play script
✓ identify the conventions in an example script
✓ apply the conventions in your own writing

Today you will need:

✎ A pen
☰ A word document, notepad or paper to record your ideas

STARTER- YOU DO: What do you already know about plays and drama? Make a list of things you think of when you hear the words ‘play’ and ‘drama’. You could ask people at home for their ideas too!

What does a play script look like?
YOU DO: Click on the link below to download an example of a play script. It is the opening of a play by Shakespeare called ‘The Tempest’. Do not worry if you do not understand all of the language. What do you notice about the way it is written? Focus on the way it is organised. Write a list of rules for writing a play script.

We will now look at some of the key conventions (features) of a play script. Below is a list of things you might find in a play script. You might have spotted some of these in the example script.

YOU DO: Read and learn the definitions of the key words below.

Stage directions: an instruction in the text of a play indicating the movement, position, or tone of an actor, or the sound effects and lighting

Aside: a remark or passage in a play that is intended to be heard by the audience but unheard by the other characters in the play

Character: A character is a person, animal, being, creature, or thing in a story

Acts and Scenes: An act is a way to divide an opera, play, or other drama. Each act is a group of scenes that form an important part of the story. A scene is a unit of action

Monologue: an extended speech by one person

Audience: the spectators, listeners, and intended readers of a writing, performance, or speech

CHALLENGE: Make a poster to teach a Year 5 pupil these drama key words.

Applying the Conventions of a Play Script

Now you are going to try writing the opening scene of a play, using the conventions we have just learned.

YOU DO: Choose one of the opening scenes below:

·       The start of a football match
·       The start of an English lesson
·       A family having dinner at a restaurant

Write the play script for this scene. You should try to apply some of the conventions you have learned (stage directions, aside, monologue, act, scene).

Don’t forget to use the layout of a script. Look back at the example to help you.

You could ask people you live with to help perform your play!

Send your script to your English teacher!

Well done! You should now feel confident to recognise and apply the conventions or features of a play script. We are now ready to start looking at some of Shakespeare’s plays. See you next time…