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Prediction Activity

A woman stands with her eyes closed.
Photo of Cheryl Lynn Bruce by Michael Brosilow.

Did you know that the productions in Court’s Oedipus Trilogy were not written in the same order we staged them? Even though it’s staged as the final installment of the trilogy, Sophocles actually wrote Antigone first! He then wrote Oedipus Rex, and finally Oedipus at Colonus (which was staged at Court as The Gospel at Colonus). By the end of Antigone, the vast majority of Oedipus’s family has died—the only who remain are his sister-daughter Ismene and his uncle/brother-in-law Creon. 

What is left at the end of this story? This activity invites learners to imagine the aftermath—where a fourth play might lead, and what might grow after the devastation wrought upon Oedipus’s family tree. 

This activity is designed for use in a classroom setting; however, it may be enjoyed by learners of all ages. 

‘Next Time, in Thebes’ Activity

  • Activity Preparation
    • Supplies
    • Set-Up
      • Consider going through the Beat Sheet prior to class with a known text (see Step 4 below for suggestions) to be able to fully support students in their initial practice with this tool. 
      • As needed, provide additional writing supports for students, like sentence starters or additional outlines. 
      • This activity guides students through the process of mapping out the beats of a play using an abbreviated version of Blake Snyder’s screenplay Beat Sheet from Save the Cat!. This lesson should be adapted for the needs of the class and any relevant time constraints.
        • Possible modifications include the following:
          • Bypass the Beat Sheet and direct students straight to writing a scene from a sequel to Antigone.
          • Focus only on the Beat Sheet and skip the scene writing.
          • Give students the full version of the Beat Sheet as presented on Blake Snyder’s website.
          • Have students work in teams to write, rehearse, and/or perform their scenes. 
        • Note: Any of the above adaptations may significantly affect the amount of time the activity takes, reducing it to as little as 30 minutes or extending it to a week of classes. 

  • This activity will take approximately 130 minutes.

  • Learning Sequence
    1. Ask students to consider what elements stories (plays, movies, television shows, and books) often have in common. What kind of experiences do protagonists go through, even across genres? Invite students to turn and talk or share their ideas aloud with the class. Ideally students will come up with a few ideas such as a problem or a goal, conflict with themselves or another character, climax, assistance from a guide or mentor, etc. (~10 minutes)
    2. Explain that though there are no “rules” in writing and storytelling, there are common structures and archetypes that most stories follow. These structures can be loosely interpreted or even broken entirely, but they are nearly universal. Inform students that one writer named Blake Snyder has crafted a tool called a Beat Sheet to help writers (in particular novelists and screenplay writers) to structure the plot of their story. (~3 minutes)
      • As needed, clarify that a “beat” denotes a shift in the story being told—a small or significant change or incident in the action of the story or emotional life of the main character.
    3. Play a video explaining the beats in Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet – here’s a great one that is under 7 minutes long. (~7 minutes)
    4. Direct students’ attention to Next Time, in Thebes…: Beat Sheet handout, specifically Part 1: Beat Sheet Practice. Note for students that they will be working with a modified version of Snyder’s sheet. (~1 minute) 
    5. Walk students through Part 1 in the handout to practice identifying story beats. Determine whether students will work individually, in pairs, or in trios, or if a portion of Part 1 will be completed as class. Also determine whether the entire class will engage in the same text, or if students can select their own. Options include one of Sophocles’s plays, popular children’s movies, or a recent release that the majority of students have seen. (~30 minutes) 
    6. Once students have had sufficient practice with the beat sheet and an existing text, direct them to Part 2: Fourth Play Beat Sheet. Inform students that they will next be using the same tool to plot an original play. (~5 minutes)
      • Ask students to consider: By the end of the trilogy, everyone has died except for Ismene and Creon. What happens next? What would be the fourth play?
    7. Have students complete Part 2 of their handout for their invented fourth play. Remind them that they may desire to invent new characters, jump forward in time, include magical elements, etc. The possibilities are endless! (~20 minutes)
    8. Once students have established their beats, give them an opportunity to share with a peer or a small group. Consider whether students will offer feedback to one another at this juncture and support this accordingly. (~10 minutes)
    9. Direct students to Part 3: Playwriting in their handout. Have students pick one of their story beats in Part 2 to write a scene for. They need not cover the entirety of the action that may occur in that beat, but they should capture the heart of the shift in the story. If needed, review for students basic formatting for a dramatic text. (~1 minute)
    10. Release students to write. As they work, circulate to provide support and answer questions. (~45 minutes)
      • Once students have finished their writing, consider what opportunities for sharing might be possible, such as readings or a performance-based extension to the activity.

  • This activity addresses the following standards:
    • Illinois Arts Learning Standards
      • Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
      • Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
      • Anchor Standard 7: Perceive and analyze artistic work.
    • Common Core State Standards
      • CCSS.ELA.R1 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.R3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
      • CCSS.ELA.W3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
      • CCSS.ELA.W4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Posted on February 1, 2024 in Learning Guides, Productions

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