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Scene 4: Three Ways of Creating a Story for Object Theatre

This scene covers:

  • Three ways of creating a story for Object Theatre

Resources needed:

  • a fairytale or short story at an appropriate level for your students
  • photocopies of a page of a script
  • highlighting pens in three colours


1. Before watching

  • Explain to your students that this scene is moving on from the performance of Object Theatre puppetry to thinking about creating the plot (or action) and the characters of a story. Ask your students how they think you can create an Object Theatre story.

2. While watching

  • Ask your students to read the questions first and think about them as they watch the scene. You will need to show them the video multiple times.
  • Your students will be listening out for types of stories can be used for Object Theatre and gives some extra tips.


3. After watching

  • To find or create a story for Object Theatre, students can use an existing story or script, adapt stories or scripts, or create a new story (see below). There are 4 after-watching activities for this scene:

     Object Theatre Story 1: Understanding the layout of a script (see extra worksheet)

     Object Theatre Story 2: Creating a script based on a story (see extra worksheet)

     Object Theatre Story 3: Adapting an existing story to make it more relevant (see extra worksheet)

     Object Theatre Story 4: Create a devised piece with your own ideas (see extra worksheet)

  • Before working on scripts, your students first need to understand how the layout of scripts is different from other texts (see Scene 4 Extra Worksheet A ‘Understanding the Layout of a Script’).
  • When adapting stories or creating new ones, students can work on this as a creative writing task or as a drama activity. To work on it as a drama activity, you can ask students to make ‘freeze frames’ as starting points for scenes. Freeze frames are still images like photographs where students represent a particularly dramatic moment in a scene. As the freeze frame is a frozen image, it is a good technique to use with students as it is simpler for them to complete than a whole scene. Starting from the freeze frame, you and your students can then develop characters, action and dialogue.
  • To facilitate self-evaluation and peer and teacher feedback, you can use the criteria for content in the Performance Criteria for Object Theatre (Appendix 4).
  • You may wish to set (or ask the students to set themselves) a stimulus or range of stimuli to prompt their thinking before they brainstorm their initial ideas. You or your students may choose a theme like ‘good manners’ or ‘healthy living’, ‘charity’ or ‘career’. You can refer to point 3, ‘Content: creativity & response to stimulus’ in the Language and Content Criteria (Appendix 4).


Object Theatre Story 1: Understanding the layout of a script (see Appendix 2: Student worksheets)

  • Show students an example of a page of a story and a page of a drama script and work on script layout and script vocabulary. Asking students to notice the differences between the way stories and scripts are organised, e.g. scripts have ‘stage directions’ and characters’ names on the left-hand side, will help them to write their own script later.
  • Ask students to annotate the example script you are working on. Suggested vocabulary is given in Appendix 3: Suggested answers for teachers (Scene 4).
  • Afterwards, list the differences on the board.


Object Theatre Story 2: Creating a script based on a story (see Appendix 2: Student worksheets)

  • Instructions for marking up a short story with pens or highlighting pens can be found in Scene 4: Extra Worksheet B.
  • Give feedback after students have completed the highlighting activity. It may help to use a visualiser to highlight the script so that your students can check their work.
  • You can now ask your students to write the script. They could write it individually or in pairs, and different groups could take responsibility for adapting different sections of the story. Remind them to use the correct layout for a script that they learnt in the last activity.


Object Theatre Story 3: Adapting an existing story to make it more relevant (see Appendix 2: Student worksheets)

  • Ask students to bring in a story they like or choose one for them. A fairytale works very well for this process and the students should have read it prior to this activity or know the story well.  
  • Look at the aspects of a story that students can adapt in order to make it more relevant and give them some examples of each (based on another story):

 - the setting (time or place);

 - characters (e.g. if the setting and the characters of Cinderella are modernised to the present day, Cinderella might become a helper working for a Hong Kong family);

 - plot/action (e.g. the ending or a different twist to the story);

 - point of view (e.g. Cinderella from the ugly sisters’ point of view);

 - role reversals and power: Who has power? Who has no power? Whose voice is dominant? Whose voice is not heard? (e.g. imagine an alternate universe where animals are more powerful than humans);

- gender, class or racial biases/stereotypes; and

- how the story can be used to convey a theme or a message to the audience (e.g. animals in captivity).


Object Theatre Story 4: Creating a devised piece with your own ideas (see Appendix 2: Student worksheets)

  • When you create a devised piece, you create a completely original script.
  • Students can follow a four-step process to devise an original piece of drama. See the student worksheets (Appendix 2). To generate a lot of ideas, ask your students to work in pairs or small groups at each stage and then share their ideas. After ideas are shared, the favourite or best options can be chosen.
  • Set an appropriate length for the ability level and age of your students. For younger and less able students, keep the story short and ensure workload is divided.
  • Step 1: Create some ideas

 - Get students to create the ideas by answering the ‘wh’ questions in pairs or small groups.

  • Step 2: Develop your plot 

- Explain to students how all good stories follow a particular narrative structure which makes them exciting and satisfying to an audience.

- A conventional story structure often has six stages: opening, problem/conflict, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. This story structure is often represented as a ‘story pyramid’.

- The stages created will give the story a strong structure that will keep the narrative concise and focused.

  • Step 3: Develop your ideas for each story stage

- Once a story has been chosen by the group and some initial details agreed upon, the students can develop the ideas for each stage in more detail.

- You can divide students into six groups, one for each of the six stages of a story structure.

- Students can develop ideas by:

  • creating a storyboard; or
  • creating 4 – 5 freeze frames or short scenes; or
  • doing some creative writing.
  • Step 4: Fine-tuning

- Ask your students to take the ideas generated and write scenes for the script. Ensure that you set appropriate expectations for the age and ability of your students.

- Remind students to use what they learnt about the layout of a script in an earlier activity.

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