BEFORE SEEING THE PLAY:
David French – Canadian theatre icon:
Dramatic Arts (Grades 9-12)
Ask students to watch R.H. Thomson’s interview with David French, produced by Theatre Museum Canada: http://www.theatremuseumcanada.ca/legendlibrary.html. It offers extraordinary background information on David French's plays, and wonderful insight into the playwright as a person and his creative process. Students may be asked to answer the following questions as they watch the interview, or the interview may be watched as a class, and these questions used as teacher prompts:
PART 1: How much did David French pay for a ticket to Creeps? How did David French react when Bill Glassco criticized his original manuscript for Leaving Home? Who came up with the title Leaving Home? How long did it take David French to write Beckons the Dark River? When he realized that he didn't know how to recreate the success of his first play, what body of theatrical work did David French study for nine years?
PART 2: According to David French, does a play need literal or physical motivation to succeed? How many performances of Leaving Home did David French see? Why? Give a brief summary of what happened on the first opening night of Leaving Home at the Tarragon Theatre. How was the play received? How many times was the play produced in Canada during the year following its premiere at the Tarragon?
PART 3: What aspects of Salt-Water Moon are autobiographical? How many characters were originally in Salt-Water Moon? For whom did David French write plays?
PART 4: What is the play Jitters' subject matter? Who were David French's favourite writers? When did David French know he was a writer? What book inspired him? What events in his own life inspired his first play, at age 23?
PART 5: Compare David French and fellow Canadian playwright, Robert Lepage, according to the interview. Briefly describe why Bill Glassco was so important to David French. What did he think when actors or directors changed his plays? What is stipulated in the contract theatres have to sign when producing his plays?
PART 6: What play did David French adapt to overcome writer's block? How was Soldier's Heart received? How long did it take him to write Salt-Water Moon?
PART 7: How many offers did David French receive to take Jitters to Broadway? Did the play ever make it to Broadway? Why or why not?
Where have they gone? The collapse of the cod fishery:
Canadian Geography (Grade 9)
Science (Grade 10 – ecology)
Have students investigate the following Canadian Geographic report on the cod fishery http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/specialfeatures/atlanticcod/codhome.asp. Ask them to identify the elements that led to the decline in the cod fishery, and the consequences that this had for Newfoundland. Then ask students to consider another more contemporary situation, in which human mismanagement of a resource may lead to its collapse. Have them create a graphic or write an essay comparing the two situations.
Teacher Prompt: Have we learned from our past mistakes?
Tommy Ricketts -- a young hero:
Canadian History (Grade 10)
Have students read the following article about Tommy Ricketts: http://www.thetelegram.com/Arts---Life/World/2008-11-11/article-1442528/Unwilling-hero/1 According to the author of the article, Ricketts was an unwilling hero; a child soldier whose life was taken over by well-meaning individuals upon his return to Newfoundland after the war. Ask students to write a song, poem or short story that reflects how Tommy might have felt at age 17, being awarded the Victoria Cross, and wanting nothing more than to forget everything that had happened to him in the war. Another possibility would be for students to research child soldiers (Emmanuel Jal, a Canadian hip hop artist who was a child soldier in Sudan, for example) and write a report about child soldiers and the impact it has on their lives.
Teacher prompt: How can a person overcome such hardship?
A province in mourning – the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel:
Canadian History (Grade 10)
Ask students to visit http://www.heritage.nf.ca/greatwar/articles/somme.html
and read about the Battle of the Somme, particularly Beaumont-Hamel. Make sure to have them visit the interactive map of the Beaumont-Hamel site at the end of the narrative. Based on what they read here, have students complete one of the following projects: a mind-map or other graphic organizer of the different people and divisions involved; a map of the battle on paper, or in 3-D; a poem, song or video tribute that deals with the events of the day and the courage of the soldiers who marched into the line of fire; an analysis of the battle which addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the battle plan (keeping in mind that hindsight is always 20-20) and suggestions as to what might have been done differently.
Teacher prompt: Is war worth the cost?
AFTER SEEING THE PLAY:
She loves me… she loves me not:
English (demonstrating understanding of content, all grades)
Dramatic Arts (comparing two works of theatre, all grades)
Write an essay comparing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to Salt-Water Moon. Include an introductory paragraph, three points and a conclusion. Consider things like setting, the role of superstition, characters (though there are only two characters on stage during Salt-Water Moon, other characters have important roles to play and can be considered in this essay), the general plot, and the ending. (Alternatively, students might create a graphic organizer comparing the two plays, or even two posters advertising the play with a written explanation of similarities/differences).
Teacher prompt: Which of the two plays did you prefer, and why?
Mary, will you marry me?
English, grades 9-12 (persuasive writing, rhetorical devices)
Ask students to write two persuasive letters to Mary: one from Jacob and one from Jerome. Use what you know about them physically, financially, intellectually and romantically. Persuade Mary that the author of the letter is the right choice for her.
Teacher prompt: What are the advantages or disadvantages of marriages of convenience?
He said / She said – the roles of men and women in society:
Canadian Geography (grade 9)
Anthropology (Grades 11 and 12)
The roles of men and women in society and in the family have changed a great deal since 1926… haven’t they? Research the following subjects: choice of career, voting, childrearing (don't forget stay-at-home dads), who bears more of the responsibility for housework, marriage and divorce rates… and prepare to defend your position in a debate.
Teacher prompt: Are women (and men) better off now than they were in the 1920s?
Is it worth keeping? Preserving Canada's cultural heritage:
The Arts, grades 9-12 (to foster an understanding of the importance of the arts in society)
Preserving Canada's cultural and artistic heritage is important, but sometimes things are lost inadvertently, or due to a lack of funding. Read the following blog post:
What should be preserved as part of a country's cultural heritage? Consider the types of objects currently found in museums, and put together a museum exhibit from 2011 that will educate the future about what is important to our society today. You can present drawings, images that you find on the Internet (with proper credit), a video, a medley of typical music… you are only limited by your imagination.
Teacher prompt: What song, work of art or sculpture (from any time and place in the world) is most worth preserving? Why?
50 + 1 – Referendum in a democracy:
Canadian and World Studies (Grade 10 History; Grade 10 Civics; Grade 12 Politics)
Compare Newfoundland's two referendums on Confederation to Quebec's two referendums on separation. Write a newspaper article about both events, and remember to include "who, what, when, where and why".
Teacher prompt: Are referendums a good way for a society to settle important questions, or should we just let our elected officials decide?