Sunday, 11 May 2014

Teaching Literature through Technology: Play / Drama

As the use of technology in classroom is increasing day by day, it becomes important to make some serious observations on its usage and impact on the learners. I wish to write a trilogy of blog posts on poetry and fiction, as well. This is the first one one Play / Drama. 


Gujarat University, Ahmedabad

 I make extensive use of technology in my literature classes. The statement is not made in self-eulogy or from a sense of pride. I know, all teachers these days are using technology in their classrooms. So, it is neither new nor unique. Mine is just a humble attempt to see how far it works in the literature classrooms. And if I get some success with it, I am happy to share it with other teachers. This presentation was made for/in the Refresher Course in English Literature, organised by Academic Staff College, Gujarat University.
These were the points discussed with the help of various videos and select scenes from the stage performance of the plays:

Happy-Sad: Twin Masks
  • Literature is made up of words. Colours, visuals, musical notes etc have no space in the aesthetic delight which literature gives through words to the readers.
  • The use of visual mars the free play of imagination which words are capable of.
  • There should be no medium between the words and the reader - if the literature is to be relished.
  • But when it comes to plays, it becomes necessary to understand that plays are not meant to be read as poems or fictions are.
  • Plays are to be performed and visuals of the performance is to be relished. Words on the page are not enough to give the beauty of play - the aesthetic delight lies in viewing the performance, rather than in reading it. Though, reading a play is also equally satisfying.
  • To prove this point an interesting example is given in the presentation: refer to the slide on which Tom Stoppard and performance of 'The Tempest' is discussed.
  • Well, some interesting scenes from 'Doctor Faustus' by Christopher Marlowe, 'Hamlet' by Shakespeare, 'Waiting for Godot' by Samuel Beckett, "The Birthday Party' by Harold Pinter were presented with important points. 
    All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players
  • It was proved that the nuances of plays lies in the acting, dialogue delivery, pauses, silences, stage spectacle and several other stage devices. Reading a play, never gives the satisfaction which viewing a performance gives.
  • However, in the classroom, while teaching the plays as texts, we cannot take students to the theatre to view the plays. Henceforth, we have bring in the video recordings of the play performances.
  • Hey, there is a rub! There is a problem. The problem is inherent in video recordings of the performance which happens through 'camera'.
  • This limitation is discussed in the slide on 'Camera as Technopoly'.
  • Your queries, observations, suggestion are welcome in the comments below this blogpost.











Dilip Barad: In deliberation with participants of RC, ASC, Guj. Uni

Questions on session by Dilip Barad on ‘Teaching Drama through Technology’.

1.      The word ‘theatre’ has Greek theatron < theasthai at the root of its meaning. What does it mean?
a.       To read
b.      To watch
c.       To peform
d.      To act
2.      Which of the following gives appropriate difference between ‘Play’ and ‘Drama’?
a.       Play is a literary composition consisting of dialogues between various characters, epilogue, monologue, prologue and an end. Drama is the set up of the play, which includes the theater, the hall, the accessories, the green room, costumes, music and the like.
b.      They are synonymous without any difference as such.
c.       Play is ‘performance text’ and Drama is ‘play text’
d.      Drama is a literary composition consisting of dialogues between various characters, epilogue, monologue, prologue and an end. Play is the set up of the play, which includes the theater, the hall, the accessories, the green room, costumes, music and the like.
3.      With reference to which play, Tom Stoppard explained the difference between the performance text and play text to prove the point that visual/spectacle of the play is more important than textual reading?
a.       The Tempest
b.      Othello
c.       Hamlet
d.      Ariel
4.      In movie adaptation of which of the following play director has replaced curtains with mirror?
a.       The Birthday Party
b.      Waiting for Godot
c.       Doctor Faustus
d.      Hamlet
5.      In which of the following play, the menacing effect of silence and pause is generated with the help of tearing sound of newspaper and no dialogue or background score?
a.       Hamlet
b.      The Tempest
c.       The Birthday Party
d.      Doctor Faustus
6.      In which of the following play’s stage performance the fight between Good Angel and Bad Angel is presented quite dramatically?
a.       Doctor Faustus
b.      Waiting for Godot
c.       The Birthday Party
d.    Hamlet