Working from stimuli: The Elephant Man and Phantom of the Opera – Rhinegold Publishing

Working from stimuli: The Elephant Man and Phantom of the Opera


This KS3/4 scheme aims to introduce students to creating characters and narratives that communicate meanings and experiment with the audience’s sympathies. Students are introduced to the idea of placing the audience as they explore the physical and emotional aspects of characterisation based on two physically deformed characters.

A variety of skills are used that feature throughout KS3 and 4 drama, many of which your students will already be familiar with. This scheme works well with all ages at KS3 and can be used as an early precursor to work on subtext and semiotics. Even though the main focus of the scheme is the dramatic ideas, there are strong links with the PSHE and citizenship curricula, exploring themes of victimisation and bullying.

The structure of the scheme aims to develop the students’ skills in using their own emotional response to tasks and ideas to explore characters in their drama. By using a springboard lesson that establishes something they have in common with their stimulus, the aim is to give the students the opportunity to invest emotionally in the work they are creating.

The resources used throughout the scheme are all based on images, films and music from The Elephant Man and The Phantom of the Opera. These are readily available, and the internet is an invaluable source.

Learning objectives

  • To know what still images are and how to use thought-tracking
  • To explore how we can use real-life experiences as a starting point for drama
  • To focus on how the body, facial expressions and single words can portray a character’s emotions
  • To understand what is meant by placing the audience
  • To know that exploring a character’s movements and gestures can improve our understanding of how they feel and behave
  • To understand more about how movements and gestures help to communicate ideas to an audience
  • To know what collective authorship means and understand how we can use it to enhance our exploration of ideas and characters
  • To understand that by using collective authorship and hotseating, we can gain and share a much stronger understanding of the characters in our drama
  • To focus on using the five Ws to create a detailed and coherent scene
  • To understand the importance in gaining the audience’s sympathy for the protagonist in our work

Number of lessons: 6

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