Last year, after reading about Read Magazine's Much Ado performance on Facebook, I felt inspired to use my grade 10 English class to perform Antigone. Well, we've finally begun. As with many tech-based projects, it's turning out to be more work than I thought, but also very interesting, and the kids are actually starting to get into it. They have to work to maintain their usual everything-in-school-is painfully-boring facade.
So why Antigone on Facebook?
I basically had two goals:
Design a task allowing students to show their understanding of character and theme in Antigone, without the superficial nature of a literary essay.
Use social media in an organic manner that both utilizes students' current understanding of its power, and pushes those boundaries.
After reading and discussing Antigone in class, students will "rewrite" the play as a series of Facebook status updates, and "perform" it over the course of 5 days. We will invite the secondary school, parents, and wider community members to "like" the characters and follow the performance. We will encourage audience participation through comments on the status updates, thus creating a community-wide discussion on the nature of civil disobedience.
That's the dream, anyway. This is one of the those projects that could be either great, or a total disaster.
I wanted this project to be mostly designed by the students, so rather than giving them a handout of tasks, our first class session was mostly discussion on how to go about getting this off the ground. Big mistake. The kids were unfocused and had many off-the-wall ideas; I settled for a compromise of me providing structure, with students providing content and labor.
Division of Labor: Students self selected into character groups (Antigone, Creon, Haemon, Ismene and Tiresias), with each group needing a minimum of three members. Within each group, students chose a task: script writer, page creator, or background/publicity.
We also had a group of tech-savvy students to create a background video (using Xtranormal) and an all-purpose Tumblr site to provide directions, links to everything, and daily posts of the status updates, in case people find it difficult to follow on FB.
Students broke in to their character groups, and I gave them a handout of questions related to each character. They worked together to answer the questions based on the text, and finding relevant quotations to support their ideas. The point, of course, was to get them really thinking about their character, her/his motivations and psychological make-up. We then discussed all the characters as a class.
Students decided in whole group discussion how they wanted to update the plot. Again, it went to some pretty weird places at times, but I always drew it back to the main themes and ideas in the play, and how they were going to a) mirror those and b) make it relevant for our audience. Their final decision (it's set in a fictional high school, with Antigone as the student body president and Creon as the school's Director/Superintendent) may lack somewhat in originality, but will certainly make it relatable.
NEXT POST: PRODUCTION