This drama is based on the true story of a young Irish woman called Margaret Devaney. In advance of teaching these drama lessons, you may like to read the background information on Margaret’s story.
Margaret's Gift in divided into 4 parts with an option to develop the work into a performance.
Part 1: Getting to know Margaret.
Part 2: Onboard the Titanic.
Part 3: The Collision.
Part 4: Fifty years later.
Margaret's Gift may take between 3 and 5 lessons, depending on the children’s ability, previous drama experience and time available. The drama is aimed at 4 th, 5 th and 6 th classes.
1. Inside Margaret’s cabin
The teacher uses masking tape to mark the outline of the cabin that Margaret shared with Mary and Kate on the classroom floor.
The children suggest pieces of furniture that would be in the cabin e.g. beds and a wash hand basin. These along with other items that the children suggest and which are appropriate to the time and context can be created using the masking tape.
Items that cannot be created using masking tape are created by drawing on the small pieces of brown sugar paper e.g. a port hole / piece of luggage can be drawn on the paper and placed by the child into the cabin.
Slowly, the space is created in this way. It is important that the children feel a sense of ownership over this part of the drama.
The children are then asked to suggest which bed belongs to Margaret and this area becomes the focus of the next section.
2 Margaret’s special items
The teacher initiates a class discussion about items that Margaret may have packed that were important to her e.g. a photograph of her family; a letter written by her mother; a gift from her younger brother.
Then, the children are organised in small groups. They are given one piece of red sugar paper per group. They discuss what items of significance Margaret may have had and where in the cabin she may have kept them e.g. a photograph of her family underneath her pillow.
These items are drawn on the red sugar paper and then added to the ‘cabin’. One child from each group approaches the cabin naming the item of significance and stating where it is kept e.g. "here is a gold bracelet given to her by her mother, Margaret keeps this in her suitcase".
3 Exploring the cabin through the senses
The children explore the cabin using their senses – What can be seen in the cabin? What can be seen from the porthole and from the cabin door? What can be heard from inside the cabin? What does the cabin smell like?
The teacher can model this initially e.g. "I can hear other people talking and laughing in the cabin next door. I can hear footsteps above me and the distant sound of classical music from the first class deck".
The children are then invited to step into the cabin – one at a time. Some children step in and say one of the following:
I can see...
I can smell...
I can hear...
4 Margaret’s dreams
The children are told that they are now going to explore the first night that Margaret spent in that cabin. They are going to create the dreams that Margaret had that night. Children can speculate as to what Margaret dreamed about. (You may need to emphasise that these are dreams not nightmares)
In groups of 5-
Image one = life at home.
Image two = life in America.
The teacher discusses with the class how time is often mixed up in dreams and so the children create a ‘dream sequence’ using these two images. The teacher explains that each group will move silently into their first still image, hold it still, then move into image 2, holding it still, then back to image 1, hold it still, finishing with image 2. Their movements between the images should be exaggerated and in slow motion. These groups ‘perform’ the dream sequence simultaneously at first, and then as a performance carousel so they can watch one another’s work.
Music can be played in the background and the children are encouraged to use the tempo of the piece to guide their movement.
5 Reflection through diary entry
Next, the children imagine that Margaret has woken and not being able to go back to sleep, she begins to write in her diary.
The children write the diary entry in role as Margaret on her first night on the Titanic.
The same music can be played here as the children write.
Afterwards, some children might like to share their work.
1 Setting the Scene
The children look at images of the Titanic (see Resources part 1) and the teacher elicits any previous related knowledge.
2 Preparing to Meet Margaret
Teacher displays the picture of the Carpathia (Resources part 1) – the ship onto which survivors were moved following the sinking of the Titanic.
The teacher says that there is a woman in the background whom we cannot see. She is alone. The teacher invites them to think of questions that they would ask her if they able to meet her. These questions may be recorded.
3 Meeting Margaret on board the Carpathia – Teacher-
With the students seated in a circle, the teacher takes on the role of Margaret using a scarf/coat. The teacher should have the letter, ticket and iron emblem flag to hand. Margaret looks anxious and worried. She is holding the iron emblem flag in her hand. This silent scene continues merely for a moment before she sighs, takes a seat and begins to engage with the children. Margaret says that she is just after boarding the Carpathia having had a lucky escape from the Titanic. She is still in a little shock and is looking around (above the children’s heads) for someone. If the children ask what she is looking for she can reveal that she is looking for her friends, Mary and Kate.
Children ask the teacher the questions that have been prepared and others that occur to them as they hear her responses.
The following information is revealed in response to their questions:
She boarded the ship at Queenstown, Co. Cork with friends Mary and Kate. She hasn’t seen them since she got on the Carpathia. The last time she saw them was on the Titanic as they scrambled for lifeboats.
She decided to travel to America with the hope of getting a job as a housemaid for a well-
Her sisters and brother live there and had often written telling of the better life they have.
One brother still lives at home – Seamus (12 years old).
The only possessions she has on her are a letter, an iron emblem flag and her ticket.
Letter is from her mother (can be read aloud).
Iron emblem flag was given to her by a crew member (the reasons for this are not to be revealed at this stage-
Teacher comes out of role and the children look at the letter in more detail and each group identifies three new pieces of information about Margaret from the letter.
5. Role on the wall
An outline of the character is drawn on a large piece of paper and the children record what they know about Margaret to date.
6. The day before Margaret boards the Titanic – Small group still images
The class is split into 5 groups. Each group depicts one of the following moments from the days before she boarded the Titanic (10 th and 11 th April 1912):
Margaret’s last meal with her family.
Her brother giving her a present.
Saying goodbye to her family at the train station in Sligo.
People in Queenstown seeing the Titanic for the first time having heard so much about it.
Margaret with her friends Mary and Kate waving goodbye to her father from the ferry that transported passengers from the harbour to the ship.
These images may be performed through Performance Carousel. The groups, positioned in a circular manner around the room, will in turn move silently into their image. They hold it for 5 seconds and then melt to the ground. The next group moves seamlessly into creating their image and so on until every group has had a turn. The sequence of these images should flow without interruption, like a wave.
Music can add to the atmosphere.
After the performance carousel, ask the children what they thought of that activity and if anyone had a comment to make on how they felt.