Welcome to YPT’s new study guide format! As you scroll through the guide you will find the usual sections included in all our guides: curriculum connections, discussion questions, units of study and more. You will also be able to click on templates, worksheets and graphic organizers. If you wish to create your own lesson plan from the study guide copy, we have created a lesson plan template for your use. We hope you will find this guide to be a useful resource. Should you have any questions or feedback or have inquiries about the use of this guide (which is copyright protected), please feel free to contact Karen Gilodo, Associate Artistic Director, Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE STUDY GUIDE
YPT is very proud to present SNOW ANGEL from Quest Theatre, a play partly inspired by the City of Calgary’s Snow Angel program. The Snow Angel Program was initiated by the City of Calgary, Community & Neighborhood Services, and Animal & Bylaw Services to encourage people to be good neighbours. The campaign encourages citizens to clear snow and ice from the sidewalks of their neighbors who may be less able to do it themselves – particularly older adults and persons with disabilities.
Angela and Ethan are just starting to learn what it means to be a good neighbour. Although there are a few miss-steps along the way they come to understand what it means to be kind and how to look out for and care for those around you. This study guide will prompt students to think about the themes and content in Snow Angel while also exploring the form of mask. The exercises are intended to examine and promote discussion on what it means to be kind and how to identify acts of kindness.
This guide was originally created by Roberta Mauer Phillips for Quest Theatre and was adapted by Karen Gilodo for Young People’s Theatre.
- The Arts (Drama and Dance)
- The Kindergarten Program
- Accepting Responsibility and Righting a Wrong
- Creating Change with Kindness
- Sibling Relationships
Snow Angel is a story told without words, in full mask using movement and music about the ripple effect of kindness, set in an Alberta community during winter. It is appropriate for all ages and is approximately one hour in length.
In a community where neighbours are disrespectful and uncaring, Angela tries her best to find belonging. When she befriends the Old Man next door, her brother Ethan, in an unthinking act, makes a big mistake. Ethan wants to apologize, but is afraid. Angela’s kind act of shoveling the Old Man’s walk changes everything. Snow Angel is a gentle story that confirms the benefit of living in a community and how kind acts can have a positive effect on all of us.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF LARVAL MASKS
Larval masks were originally designed and made in Basel, Switzerland for Faschnacht, the town’s winter carnival. The masks were painted brightly and adorned with large wigs for costumed characters that paraded through the cobblestone streets playing fife and drum, carrying political placards and joking with the crowds of people there to witness their comic antics. Jacques Lecoq was the first to use these masks for theatre, finding they were an excellent teaching tool for the students at his physical theatre school in Paris, France in the 1960s. Leaving them painted a plain flat white, he called them “larval masks” because, with only one or two main features (a large nose, big cheeks, a protruding chin) they looked like creatures in a state of becoming something new. They could be animals, birds, fish, lizards, aliens or any abstract being that a student could imagine. When the actors used body movements to compliment the masks, light and shadow created the illusion of facial features that seemed to change expression, enhancing the actions and personalities of their characters. It was clear that these masks do not look impressive as art hanging on a wall, but they are brilliantly alive on stage. This was ground-breaking work. Three students from Lecoq’s school brought larval mask scenes to the professional stage in 1972 when they formed Mummenschanz, a Swiss theatre company that specialized in a surreal mask style, using light and shadow as well as subtle choreography to great effect. They toured internationally, did a 3-year run on Broadway and performed on The Muppet Show. Their newest show 40 Years is an anniversary program of pieces from their repertoire. Because École Jacques Lecoq is an international theatre school, many of the techniques developed there have spread around the world over the last 56 years. As students visited Basel to see the carnival and buy a mask or two, this style of mask has also traveled far and wide to be used in lots of different ways. There are now numerous mask makers in Canada who design and build larval masks for professional use.
Robin Patterson, Artistic Director, Theatre Beyond Words
- What does it mean to be kind?
- What is a “random act of kindness”?
- What stops people from saying “I am sorry”?
- What makes someone do something they know is wrong?
- Is it easy or hard to forgive? Why?
Exercise 1: Create a Kindness Tree
This exercise is intended to encourage students to think about the many ways they can be kind in their community.
- Craft paper for tree trunk
- Leaf Template
- Design a large tree trunk with extending branches to take up a big part of one of the walls of your classroom.
- Hand out the leaf cut-out provided in this guide to each student.
- Have students write on the leaf a way that they can be kind in their community. For younger students who may not be able to write yet, ask them to draw a picture of their act of kindness (if students need prompting, ask students to think about the ways they can be kind at home, at school, with animals, with friends and neighbours, and in nature.)
- Post the leaves on the kindness tree.
Exercise 2: Mask Making
Objective: In this activity students will create masks that may be held in front of the face or used as puppets. Encourage students to come up with the most outrageous designs, anything from animals, aliens, or weird creatures to different kinds of people.
- Paper plates
- Coloured pencils, crayons, markers or paint
- Decorations, (feathers, crepe paper, coloured paper, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, beads)
- Tape or glue
- Unsharpened pencils, craft sticks, tongue depressors or popsicle sticks
- Hand out one paper plate as well as coloured pencils, crayons, markers and other decorative items to each student.
- Have students hold the paper plates up to their faces and help them or ask them to help each other outline in pencil where they want the eye holes to be. Help them cut out the eye holes. (Note: this is something that can be prepped in advance).
- Give students time to colour and decorate their masks.
- Next, have students create a handle by gluing or taping a stick or unsharpened pencil to protrude out of the bottom of the mask.
- Lead students through an exercise where they hold their masks in front of their faces and move (safely) around the room the way they think the character they have created might move (prompts: how does colour affect character? Texture? Design?)
Culminating Exercise – A Random Act of Kindness
Objective: In this exercise students will creatively express an act of kindness using their mask. As in Snow Angel, the will do this with their body and will not use any language.
- The mask students created from the previous exercise.
- Ask students to think about the act of kindness they contributed to the kindness tree.
- Have students find a space of their own to explore (using their masks) how they might represent that act of kindness in three separate poses.
- Lead students to move from one pose to the next with a countdown of “3,2,1”.
- Next, divide the class in two. Have group one sit down as an audience while group two stays in the playing space. Have individuals in group two find a space of their own and count them into each of their poses.
- When they have completed their poses ask the audience (group one) what they saw in the images portrayed by group two. How was kindness depicted?
- Which characters were kind in the play? What did they do?
- How did their actions affect others?
- Who was unkind? How did their actions affect others?
- Which character in the play shows the most kindness? Which character shows the least kindness?
- How did Angela feel when she caught Ethan doing something he was not supposed to do?
- How does Angela feel when Ethan and Buddy don’t include her in their hockey game?
- Why are the birds so important to the Old Man?
- Why does it take Ethan so long to apologize to the Old Man?
- Why do Angela and Ethan eventually reject Buddy? Do you agree or disagree with their choice?
- If you could continue the story, what might happen to Angela, Ethan, the Old Man and Buddy in the next scene?
- Why is this story told without any words? Why do the actors wear masks?
Thoughts on Kindness
This activity provides an opportunity for students to explore and share their opinions on some of the themes in the play in a structured and non-judgmental setting. By using general statements and references from the play, students will examine their beliefs, hear alternate points of view, and have an opportunity to rethink their ideas on some of the major themes of the play.
- A space in which to move
- Divide the room into four corners and using chart paper, designate the following areas: “Strongly Agree”, “Agree”, “Strongly Disagree” and “Disagree”. The centre of the room will be designated “Not Sure”.
- Explain that you will be reading a series of statements and referring to events from the play and it is the students’ job to agree or disagree with the statements by choosing their location in the room. When each statement is read aloud, students decide which area of the room they will move to in order to represent their own opinion.
- After each statement is read, pick a few students to explain their choice of location. This is not a debate. The students’ viewpoints should not be judged, just shared.
- After a number of viewpoints have been shared on each statement or quote, offer students the chance to move to a new location in the room if they have changed their mind, or feel differently about the statement.
- Winter is better than Summer!
- Everyone should be friends.
- Saying “I am sorry” is enough to make someone feel better.
- Saying “I am sorry” is difficult.
- Pranks can be funny.
- Siblings always get along.
References to the Play:
- Angela should apologize for Ethan’s behavior.
- Buddy is Ethan’s friend.
- The Old Man is lonely.
- Ethan buying the Old Man a birdhouse is better than apologizing.
Exercise: What Comes Next?
In this exercise, students are encouraged predict what might happen next for Angela, Ethan, the Old Man and Buddy. Directions:
- Take a few minutes to review the events that took place in the play (Hint: use the synopsis in this guide as a refresher).
- Next, divide students into groups of four.
- Ask students to choose a character from the play that they would like to portray. Each group should have an Ethan, Angela, Old Man, and Buddy. (In some cases it might be best to assign these roles.)
- Introduce the concept of tableau.tableau. A group of silent, motionless figures used to represent a scene, theme, or abstract idea (e.g., peace, joy), or an important moment in a narrative. Tableaux may be presented as stand-alone images to communicate one specific message or may be used to achieve particular effects in a longer drama work. Important features of a tableau include character, space, gesture, facial expression, and level. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/
- Have students create a series of three tableaux depicting what might happen after the play ends.
- Have each group present their tableaux to the class and debrief about the different scenarios.
Students may choose to use the masks that they created (from the pre-show exercise) in their tableaux.
Extension: Writing in Role
After students have presented their tableaux, ask them to work on their own, in character, on a journal entry about their added scenario.
TIPS FOR STUDENT REVIEWERS FROM JON KAPLAN
Jon Kaplan’s Introduction to Student Reviewers
Theatre is, for me, an art form that tells me something about myself or gets me thinking about the world in which I live.
Whether going to the theatre as a reviewer or simply an audience member, I think that watching a play is an emotional experience and not just an intellectual one. I always let a show wash over me, letting it touch my feelings, and only later, after the show, do I try to analyze those feelings.
That’s when I start to think about some of the basic questions you ask when you’re writing a review – what did I see (story, characters, themes); how did I respond to what I saw; what parts of the production (script, performances, direction, design and possibly other elements) made me feel and think what I did; why was I supposed to respond in that fashion?
When you go to the theatre to review, take a few notes during a show if you feel comfortable doing so, but don’t spend your time writing the review during the show; you’ll miss what’s happening onstage.
Writing a review doesn’t mean providing a plot summary. That’s only part of the job; you have to discuss your reaction to what you saw and try to explore some of the reasons for that reaction.
I don’t believe that there’s any such thing as a totally objective piece of criticism. We are all individuals, bringing our own backgrounds, experiences and beliefs to a production. In some fashion, every one of us sitting in the theatre is a critic, no matter whether we’re writing a review or not; we all react to and from judgments about what we see on the stage.
When I go to a production, I always keep in mind that the people involved in putting it on have worked long and hard – weeks, months, sometimes years – getting it onto the stage. Even if I have problems with the result, it’s important to respect the efforts that went into the show.
Jon Kaplan is senior theatre writer at NOW Magazine, where he’s worked for the past 34 years.