Writing in Stereo

Writing in Stereo header image 1

WiS Lesson 1B Notes

March 28th, 2010

The original Writing in Stereo was published online back in the late 1980’s.  Its purpose was to apply creative radio dramatics to all aspects of the teaching of high school English.  Each lesson included a lesson plan and notes.  I’m sharing these with you here.

Notes (I.B)

The focus here is planting. Students should become "radio drama literate," habitually planting unseen action throughout their work. Using the well-known fairy tale stories removes the onus of original plotting to keep the emphasis on writing technique.

Narration should not be necessary in these simple plays. The characters ought to be able to plant out everything happening, having happened, or about to happen.

Get the students to outline the story they've chosen. Once the scenes are broken down, they can attack the pieces one at a time. In a sophisticated production one might expect music bridges as transitions between scenes, but for this classroom exercise see what the kids can accomplish with plants alone.

Students will have problems. One frequent obstacle we've encountered is the solitary character. Planting requires dialogue revealing events as they happen. How can there be dialogue if the character has no one to talk to? Fortunately, Shakespeare's soliloquy strategy is an accepted convention of radio dramatics. Here's an example used frequently with this lesson:

GOLDILOCKS: Oh, darn! I sure wish I'd listened to my mother when she warned me not to wander off. Now I'm here in the middle of nowhere. Every tree looks the same. I'm lost! Wait a minute. What's this? It's a cottage. I'll just walk over here and ask for help. It's certainly a very pretty cottage. My, the door is very large. I'll knock. (SOUND of knocking) There. Surely someone will come to the door. No answer. Perhaps they didn't hear. I'll try again. Oh! The door is open. I'll take a look inside. My, what a huge kitchen!

That's how we get Goldilocks into the bears' cottage. Red Riding Hood's solitary woodcutter can be discovered the same way.