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Post-Show Juxtaposition Activity

A woman irons a piece of grass in a field, as women dance behind her.
Genevieve VenJohnson, Morgan Lavenstein, Alex Goodrich, and Lizzie Bourne by Michael Brosilow.

Use this classroom activity to unpack examples of juxtaposition in life, media, and Fen to more deeply understand the power of contrast. 

Juxtaposition Activity

  • Activity Preparation
    • Supplies:
    • Set-Up: 
      • Prepare to display the definition of juxtaposition
      • Prepare to display one or more examples of juxtaposition from the list in step 2. 
      • Please note: Fen includes themes of suicide, alcoholism, and racially and sexually offensive language.

  • This activity will take approximately 50 minutes.

  • Learning Sequence
    1. Have students recall the definition of juxtaposition, or share the definition as needed. Offer students the idea of a rainbow as an example of juxtaposition: when two contrasting elements come together (rain and sun), some new meaning comes from that combination (a rainbow). (~4 minutes) 
      • Juxtaposition (n): two contrasting elements side by side to highlight their differences and to create a new effect 
    2. Ask students to share examples of juxtaposition. They might be familiar with some of these examples. Consider displaying a few for students to support understanding. (~6 minutes) 
      • Netflix’s Wednesday: Wednesday and Enid’s opposite aesthetics
      • Turning Red: Mei Lee’s dual life as a human girl and a giant red panda 
      • Shrek: the relationship between Donkey and the dragon 
      • Before and After photos
    • Move students into small groups. Give each group a few minutes to brainstorm additional examples of juxtaposition on their Post-Show Analysis handout. They should think of examples from music, movies, television, literature, the news, nature, etc. (~5 minutes)
    • Once each group has a list of examples, have them select one they would like to analyze. Then, briefly review the questions on the Post-Show Analysis handout with students. (~5 minutes) 
      • On its own, what does the first element represent?
        • What are the connotations associated with it? 
        • What might be the audience’s response or experience of it? 
      • On its own, what does the second element represent?
        • What are the connotations associated with it? 
        • What might be the audience’s response or experience of it? 
      • In what ways are the two elements opposite? 
      • What is the effect of the contrast on the audience? What new meaning or understanding is created from this juxtaposition?
    • Release students to analyze their example. Once groups have completed this section of their handout, invite a few groups to share their ideas. Offer guidance and support as needed. (~10 minutes) 
    • Direct students to the “Juxtaposition in Fen” section of their handout. Guide them to brainstorm examples of juxtaposition from the production of Fen. Have groups select a single example from their list to analyze. Then, prompt students to conduct their analysis. (~15 minutes) 
    • Invite students to share their ideas with the class. (~5 minutes) 

  • As an optional extension to this activity, consider having students do any of the following: 
    • Create an artistic representation of an element of juxtaposition in Fen. Use markers, collage, digital rendering, or any medium you choose. 
    • Write about your experience of the juxtaposition in Fen from your experience as an audience member. What did it make you think and feel? 
    • Locate or create images that represent contrast of some sort, or choose two songs that might not be considered to “go” together. If you were to call this juxtaposition art, what would you name it? What would it mean to you or to an audience? 

  • This activity aligns with the following standards:
    • Illinois Arts Learning Standards 
      • Anchor Standard 8: Construct meaningful interpretations of artistic work.
      • Anchor Standard 9: Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work 
    • Common Core State Standards 
      • CCSS.ELA.RL.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
      • CCSS.ELA.RL.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Posted on January 25, 2023 in Learning Guides, Productions

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