Kantor - Theatre of Death – Rhinegold Publishing

Kantor - Theatre of Death


This scheme introduces the work of Polish dramaturge, Tadeusz Kantor. Activities are based on Kantor’s ‘The Theatre of Death – a Manifesto’, where he builds on Edward Gordon Craig’s notion of the ‘superpuppet’ or Ubermarionette.

Encouraging students to become less literal, to incorporate masks, make-up and puppetry in their work, and giving them a taste of the dramatist as social commentator, the module can be differentiated both up and down. There is intellectual scope here to cater for the synoptic challenges of A-level specifications. In addition, the themes and range of practical skills addressed will sustain the varied interests and abilities encountered at KS4. Lessons last about an hour and the module takes 20 lessons, including rehearsal for performance. Teaching spaces should be adaptable for whole-class teaching, circle time, group rehearsal areas and a performance area. A set of Trestle-style masks would be ideal. Plain white masks will do if your budget is tight. Access to a laptop and interactive board are needed in order to show extracts online, alongside a digital camera from which you can quickly upload and watch students’ work. Cross-curricular links include those to history (World War 2) and art; prior learning about masks and make-up would also be useful. Rich opportunities abound for some students to be assessed on a design element instead of performance.

Learning objectives:

  • To understand the idea of conscious and unconscious performance and begin to explore the effect of both
  • To understand how puppets can model the ‘unconscious’ or ‘death of the actor’ on stage
  • To make a mannequin for use in performance
  • To develop mirroring and shadowing skills; to appreciate themes in Kantor’s work and generate linked ideas for own dramas

Number of lessons: 12

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