TA 571: Playscript Interpretation
Amy Cotterill, M.F.A.
The Hip Hop Greeks
Amy Cotterill used her involvement in the first i2a PTF Cohort to put a new age twist on some classics. In her Playscript Interpretation class at UL and her Introduction to Theatre class at JCTC, Cotterill assigned students what she calls a "hip-hop style poem" which was inspired by the style of performance artist Keith Antar Mason. This activity challenged students to understand and apply a fundamental and powerful concept [PDF] for this course in a new way.
One colleague in particular liked the idea so much, he asked for my notes so that he could adapt it for his course.
Over the course of the two weeks leading up to the poem exercise, students read Aristotle's "The Poetics" Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, and "On the Use of the Chorus in Tragedy" by Fredrick Schiller. While reading, Cotterill asked her students to write their "Muddiest Point" on a notecard, and utilized this feedback to guide the class discussion of the material.
The Hip Hop Style Poem assignment was then explained to the class. First, the group chose a hip hop song and listened to it as a class, paying particular attention to the elements of beat, repetition, tone and mood. Next, an original hip-hop style poem was provided to the students, and they were to create an original interpretation of the poem utilizing their newly acquired understanding of the theorists and Elements of Thought. Any props available at that moment to enhance their performance were encouraged to be used.
They voice their opinions far more readily now. This keeps me on my toes because the questions are not easy to answer, but they open the door for wonderful class discussions!
"I love to see students engaged and growing in their understanding of a concept," said Cotterill. "At all levels, the students who have experienced this activity have, at some point, exhibited a sense of accomplishment and stronger confidence in their abilities as an important contributor to the classroom."