________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 7 . . . . November 29, 2002


Stages: Creative Ideas for Teaching Drama.

Talia Pura.
Winnipeg, MB: J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing, 2002.
191 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 1-896239-94-3.

Subject Headings:
Theatre-Study and teaching.
Drama-Study and teaching.


Review by Jocelyn A. Dimm.

*** /4




Trust exercises are very important when the group is newly formed. Trust needs to be established between members in order for them to feel that they are in a safe enough environment to take chances with their imaginations.


This exercise requires that everyone work together.

METHOD: All students form a tight circle, turn to their right and take another step in towards the center of the circle. Students should be almost touching. On the count of three, all students sit on the knees of the person behind them. On the count of three, they stand up again. With practice, they can also take three steps forward (or backward) while they sit. The first time, the students may wish to perform this while holding the shoulders of the person in front of them.

Pura calls her book, Stages, a collection of "creative ideas for teaching drama". In the introduction, she identifies these "exercises" as "some I discovered while teaching something else; some I had heard about from another drama teacher or gleaned from a workshop....This book is an effort to file all those exercises into one portable package." She clearly outlines what she intends this book to provide: "You will notice that there is a minimum of theorizing about an exercise or pontificating on its value....The purpose of this book is simply to provide you with ideas to use in a teaching environment." Pura also provides a glossary and an appendix - the glossary focusing on stage and acting terminology, and the appendix dealing with condensed versions of what might be provided in the structure of a lesson, unit, workshop, and /or course.

     Pura organizes the exercises in this book into six sections: warm-up, tableaux, voice, improvisation, performance, and student group projects. As in the excerpt given above, these sections begin with a short explanation of what the drama exercise involves, categories under the main title, and beneath each category, a collection of activities for student to participate in. At the beginning of each section, she also provides a brief explanation of the strategy.

     It might be significant to point most exercises used in a drama context are intended to build some degree of trust within the group. Keeping this in mind, some of the exercises in this book come with a safety note inserted within the body of the description providing a supportive caution when proceeding with an activity that might cause injury. This is an excellent addition, and the trust exercise described above might have benefitted from one of these cautionary notes as well, if students are to "sit on the knees of the person behind them."

     Educators who have been teaching drama for a few years will recognize many of these exercises from other resources - resources that would be valuable complementary assets if they found their way into Stages' rather short and slightly dated bibliography.

     There are many benefits to a resource such as this one as it provides a collection of creative ideas for drama. As for any teacher (page two) being able to pick up this book and teach drama from it, they might want to supplement this text with one that provides the additional theory and values reflection of teaching drama that Pura, herself, points out is minimal in her book.


Jocelyn A. Dimm is a sessional instructor and doctoral student at the University of Victoria where she teaches drama education and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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