Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Audio Theater as a Cross Curriculum Educational Tool

So, you might think that Audio Theater is a fine tool to use for a theatre teacher. After all, many of us use an approach to teaching drama that is comprised of analysis and synthesis. In other words, we break things apart, and put them back together. If a performer’s greatest tools are her body, her voice, and her brain, then we may break down a performance unit into Pantomime, Audio (or Reader’s) Theater, and Improvisation/Characterization. Obvious, no? Well, like so many other art educators around the world, I have awoken to the idea that the arts need to be spread throughout a student’s whole curriculum. A human being’s education is not complete if their understanding of the world around them does not include the objective creativity that only the inclusion of art can provide. So, maybe we start thinking of correlations that aren’t so obvious.

The subject of audio theater, just like the basic principles of storytelling, has connections to almost any area in a child’s education, and I believe can enhance their comprehension of other core subjects. More obvious subjects that immediately spring to mind are; Multi-Media/Communications, Social Studies, History, Science: both technical and biological, and many more.

Here’s an easy one; Consider any research project that must be done by a student in any class. What presentation couldn’t be enhanced by turning it into a fully realized short film or piece of audio theater? This, again, is a pretty obvious collaboration, but simply consider the act of producing such a work, and the comprehension and appreciation that it develops; creating sound effects to enhance the subject matter, learning the technical editing skills to use the equipment, as well as the comprehensive editing skills to focus on the important aspects of the subject at hand. Communicating real or abstract ideas in a clear and concise way.

As a teacher, I have even used one audio theater project as a means to assess two completely different classes. Being a teacher of both Introduction to Performance, and Introduction to Media Concepts, I let the recording of Vocal Performance and live sound effects (re-creating folk tales over a microphone) be a final assessment in one class, and the use of editing and enhancement software (fixing timing, adding music and filtering using Garage Band or Audacity) be the assessment for the other. This is a simple idea that has saved me time, and is really just the tip of the iceberg.

I would like to give you some more specific examples of how audio theatre is being used around the country, and around the world, to help enhance the content of school subjects, as well as important social issues. There’s so much cool stuff out there, I’ll save out for a separate post.

Stay tuned!
-Marques Brown

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