Prepare yourself for THE DRAMA MACHINE. This is an interactive application that randomly combines the variables that we deal with in production: Script, Director’s Concept, Venue, Budget, and Time. It churns out the circumstances for a hypothetical production with gaudy special effects and noises. Have students come up to the machine, one at a time, and generate a new set of circumstances. This turns your class into a game show for the day, and inspires extraordinary discussion about how designing is always problem solving.In my classroom, we use this on a Smart Board. Students come up to the machine in turns and create a new set of circumstances. Embarrassing goggles or eye-ware are especially helpful for anyone operating the machine. This machine makes some great noises, so TURN UP YOUR SOUND! ;)If you do not have a smart board, you can still use this.
- It could be used with a projector or other type of screen. I would suggest coming up with some way to make a big deal out of pushing the next button each time. Maybe a drum-roll.
- Students can operate this on their own, either in class, or as an assignment.
- Students can operate this on their own devices in groups.
- I have a former student who uses this in the classroom to generate design paper assignments. Students run the machine in class and are then required to write a design concept statement based on the results.
- Wait until the page has full loaded, You should hear a cacophony of machine noises. I totally recommend that you turn your sound up a bit.
- Press the giant green START button. You will see the machine ripple into life.
- Begin at the top of the page, top-right. “The basic story is …” Press the button with the image of a storybook. You will receive a randomly selected plot premise. Be sure that everyone present is familiar with the basic story displayed.
- Wait for each premise to fully load after you press the buttons.
- Work your way down the buttons, one at a time, slowly. Discuss the situation with each new piece of information.
- Finally, for the last button, the hypothetical Director has chosen a piece of artwork on which to base the visuals for the production. Savor the moment before you reveal this image.
- After you click “SHOW ME,” discuss how you will manage this show visually, given the information provided.
- When you feel that the class is satisfied and is ready to move on, press “RESET.” Run the machine again.
This turns your class into a game show for the day, and inspires extraordinary discussion about how designing is always problem solving. This also works extremely well for brainstorming playwriting.