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More Margaret's Gift

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Part 4: Fifty Years Later

1 Narration
The Carpatia arrived in New York the following day; Margaret disembarked and met her brother and sister. She never did find her friends Mary and Kate. It soon became apparent that they hadn’t survived. Sometime later Margaret got a job with a well-to-do family as a housemaid but Mary and Kate were never far from her mind. After a few years, she married and went on to have children and a happy life. The next part of our story takes place fifty years later. Margaret is now 69 years old with grandchildren of her own.  Martin Sallander, a member of the committee organising a fifty year memorial service for those who perished on the Titanic contacts Margaret by phone to invite her to attend.

2 Phone call – Paired Improvisation
To help the children to explore the phone call, briefs are given. Children sit back to back to allow them to hear but not to see one another (as is the case with a phone conversation)

Briefings for Martin & Margaret

3
Reflection on phone call
Discuss the various outcomes of the phone calls. Narrate that Margaret eventually decided to go to the service but felt nervous about meeting Mary’s niece and in particular having to explain how she was saved but Mary perished.

4 Preparing to Meet Mary’s Niece:
The children prepare the questions that they think Mary’s niece will want to ask Margaret. These can be recorded.

5 Collective role  
The teacher takes on the role of Margaret, all of the children take on the collective role of Mary’s niece.  
A chair is placed facing Margaret, the children sit behind it. They take on the collective voice of Mary’s niece. Each child has the opportunity to contribute but coherence is required where children listen to what has gone before to make it seem as though just one voice is speaking.

6 Narration with ritual.
Children are seated in a circle. The teacher narrates that Margaret planted two trees in memory of her friends that day. One child steps into the circle and takes on the role of Margaret. The other children each come into the circle and take up a position in role as various relatives of people who died on the Titanic and also plant a tree. This builds up into collective tableau. As they hold their image still,  the following piece ( or similar) can be narrated

" even to this day, one hundred years later, we still remember all those who died on the Titanic and we keep their stories in our hearts"

Drama into a Performance


Tips on how to develop this drama into a performance:

This is a great tip that I learnt from Andy Kempe ( Senior Drama Lecturer at Reading University), at a drama workshop in Austria and can be used to develop any process drama into a performance.
At the end of each drama lesson in the classroom, do a quick recap on what was done. For example, a recap on lesson 1 might look like this

  • Meeting Margaret on the Carpathia

  • Role on the wall

  • Still Images - before Margaret set off


Write each of the above onto an A4 sheet and peg them to a ‘washing line’ in the classroom. By the end of the full drama you will have recorded all of the different episodes on to this washing line. The work the class will have done will be represented visually and will be easy for all to remember.
Now you want to create a performance! Simply pick and choose from the washing line what parts of the drama you would like to use in your performance. You might like to begin with the still images from the day before Margaret left her home (you could add narration). After that you might decide to recreate the dream sequence from her first night on the ship. Alternatively you could begin your performance with Margaret on the Capathia searching for her friends (instead of teacher in role here, a child could take on the role of Margaret). Remember – the children have done lots of drama – find
your performance from putting together those dramatic moments already created!

Part 3: The Collision

1 The Collision – Narration and Still Images.
This section begins by the teacher narrating the following piece:
The three girls made friends with the fourth passenger in the cabin and they spent many days together talking about their future lives in America and about their families back home. They spent time on deck; enjoyed meals together and relaxed in the general room chatting and enjoying music. April 14 th was a day like the others but at approximately 11: 40 p.m., the fate of the Titanic changed.  We will now explore what happened in different parts of the ship when Titanic collided with an iceberg.

Children are arranged into 5 groups and are given one of the following scenes to depict

  • Family taking a late night stroll on the first class deck.

  • The officers in the bridge.

  • Men in the third class smoking room.

  • A family in their second class cabin.

  • The musicians playing on the first class deck.


Each group must create three still images of their scene:
1 Before the collision ( normal activity)    2 The collision      3 The ship starts to go down

The children share their images with the class.

2 The Lifeboat – Defining the space & small group improvisation
The children are in groups of 5or 6 and take the following roles:

  • A crew member in lifeboat.

  • Two crew members on deck – lowering the lifeboat.

  • Margaret.

  • Other passengers.


The teacher explains that before they take on these roles, they need to create the lifeboat using classroom chairs. They decide also how best to depict the deck above.
As this is taking place, the teacher calls all the Margaret characters together and gives them the following information (brief)
The teacher calls the two crew members on deck together and gives them this brief  
Ask the children before the improvisation begins: What would the mood have been like as people were scrambling into lifeboats? What kind of voices do you think people would have used?
The children then improvise the scene mindful of their roles and briefs.Allow the children to practise their scenes and to make any necessary adjustments to best depict the moment.  The children can share their scenes with one another.
[Note: The nature of improvisation is such that some scenes may not depict the story true to its original form. Should this be the case, the teacher can draw the children’s attention to the possible alternative outcomes but because this is a historical event, the teacher can direct the children’s attention to what actually happened. For example, were a group to depict the lifeboat not being released,  the teacher might say " it is interesting to see what might have happened as shown by this group but in this story, Margaret did actually use the penknife to free the ropes".]

Out of role discussion following the improvisations:
Ask the children what they liked about the various scenes depicted. The teacher can also share something that (s)he liked about each group’s work e.g. I got a true sense of the panic that people must have felt at the time when watching your work.
Invite the children who were in role as Margaret to share their knowledge about the origin of the penknife. Ask the others why they think Séamas, her brother gave her such a gift? Discuss how this simple gift became so significant in this story.

3 Back to Margaret on the Carpathia: Children-in-role and teacher-in-role
Teacher narrates: Margaret and the other survivors watched from their lifeboats in utter despair as the unsinkable Titanic went down before their very eyes. It was a couple of hours before the help arrived. All the survivors were transferred onto the Carpathia and the ship set off towards New York.

Children stand in a circle on the edge of the working space. Explain that nobody on board the Carpathia had seen Margaret’s friends Kate and Mary. Each of them is to enter the space and make a still image of a survivor (other than Margaret) on board the Carpathia (this may be done with the children working in small groups or individually).
The scene comes to life, TIR (wearing the scarf/coat) as Margaret walks around the group with despair asking have you seen my friends Mary and Kate? (Describes their appearance).  After a while, having no success, she sits on a chair and holds still. The teacher comes out of role, and places the scarf on the chair. This signifies Margaret. The children come out of role. They write one word/sentence that represents how Margaret is feeling at this moment. One by one they call aloud their word/sentence and place it around her chair/scarf.

You may like to discuss the children’s experiences of this activity with them when it finishes


 
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