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Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


Timothy J. Bond Producing Artistic Director James A. Clark Managing Director



Mischief Makers Written by Lowell Swortzell

Directed by Patricia Buckley

Designed by Katrin Naumann

The Bank of America Children’s Tour

Season Sponsors

Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


Table of Contents 5.

Theatre and Education


Elements of Theatre


Elements of Art


A Message from the Director


Meet the Playwright


The Trickster: An Overview


Folklore’s Most Wanted: A Look at Our Characters


In the Classroom: Questions and Activities



Š 2007. Edited by Lauren Unbekant and Adam Zurbruegg. Layout by Nichole Gantshar.

Supporting the arts is a main priority of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, which is why we are so excited to partner with Syracuse Stage on this exciting project. Through innovative programs, such as this one, we can effectively encourage the children in our community to embrace the arts at an early age. Bank of America is pleased to support such an important program and hope children throughout the greater Syracuse area will take full advantage of it.

Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


Theatre and Education “Theatre brings life to life” – Zelda Fichandler

When the first cave dweller got up to tell a story, theatre began. Almost every culture has some sort of live performance tradition to tell stories. Television and film may have diminished the desire for access to theatre, but they have not diminished the importance. Live theatre gives each audience member an opportunity to connect with the performers in a way he or she never could with Tom Cruise or Lindsay Lohan. The emotions can be more intense because the events are happening right in front of the audience.

Audience Etiquette A few reminders for your students •

Be Prompt – Give your students plenty of time to arrive, find their seats, and get situated.

Respect Other People’s Space – Remind students not to bump/kick the person next to or in front of them (or their chairs!)

Listen Quietly – Unlike television, these actors can see and hear you. Talking, even in a whisper, distracts the performers and the other audience members. There is of course an exception to this rule if the performers ask for audience response! Please also avoid unnecessary coughing, gum chewing, and no electronic games or phones!

Stay With Us – Please do not leave, or allow students to leave, once a performance has begun, except in absolute emergencies.

Applaud – Polite applause lets the performers know you appreciate their hard work, but at the wrong time it can be disruptive. It is appropriate to clap in between scenes, and at the very end of the performance.

Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


Elements of Theatre Theatre usually engages other art disciplines including: Writing, Visual/Design, Music, and Dance or Movement.

This column contains some possible elements for further classroom exploration when investigating a piece of theatre.

Character Who? – Who are the characters in the play and what is their relationship to each other?

Character Relationship Conflict/Resolution Action Plot/Story Setting Time Improvisation Non-Verbal Communication Staging Realism/Naturalism Visual Composition Metaphor Language Tone Pattern Repetition Emotion Point of View Humor

Plot/Story What? – What is the story line? What happened before the play started? What do the characters want? What happens next? Setting Where? – Where does the story take place? This influences design concepts and actors’ actions. Characters move and behave according to their environment. Time When? – Time consists of: Historical (period in history), Time of Year/Season, and Time of Day, all of which influence design concepts and actors’ actions.

Creating Questions for Exploration Creating an open-ended question using an element for exploration, otherwise known as a “Line of Inquiry,” can help students make discoveries about a piece of theatre and its relevance to their own lives. A Line of Inquiry is also useful for Kinesthetic Activities (On-Your-Feet Exercises.) Examples of Lines of Inquiry: 1. How does an actor create a character through changing his/her body shape? 2. How does an actor create setting using physical actions? 3. How does an actor use the language of gesture to convey emotion/feeling? 4. How does the use of music convey the mood of a scene?

Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


Elements of Art The Elements of Art

Questions for Noticing Art – Guided Looking

There are typically six elements of art that can be found in most art works. Artists use these elements as a “visual alphabet” to produce all kinds of art forms. The way in which elements are organized is referred to as the Principles of Design. Line is the most basic element of art; a continuous mark made on a surface can vary in appearance (length, width, texture, direction, and curve.) There are five varieties of lines: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, zigzag.


What do you see? What do you actually see? Line, shape, color, etc.


What else do you see? A chance to look deeper.


What’s going on? What do you think is happening in the artwork?


What makes you say that? What evidence do you have?

Shape is two-dimensional (circle, square, triangle, rectangle, etc.) and encloses space. Can be geometric, man-made or free-form. Color is produced when light strikes an object and reflects back into your eyes. This element of art has three properties: Hue – the name of the color (ex. Red, yellow, blue) Intensity – the purity and strength of the color (ex. Bright red or dull red) Value – the lightness or darkness of a color Form is three-dimensional. It encloses space and takes up space. Can be geometric, man-made, or free-form. Space is defined and determined by shapes and forms. Positive space is where shapes and forms exist; negative space is the empty space around shapes and forms. Texture refers to the surface quality or “feel” or an object – smooth, rough, soft, etc. Textures may be actual (tactile, felt with touch) or implied (visual, suggested by the way an artist has created the work of art.) Artwork courtesy of NPR ‘When They Were Young’

Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


A Message From The Education Director Dear Teachers, After last year’s success with The Red Sun and The Green Moon, Syracuse Stage and Syracuse University’s Drama Department are proud to present another tale of magic and mayhem, “The Mischief Makers”. The Mischief Makers is a fast paced romp involving three of the world’s favorite tricksters, Anansi the spider from Ghana, Raven the North American Native trickster and Reynard the Fox, that tricky fellow from European Folklore. Together these three rascals compete against one another to see who will be deemed the best trickster in the world. Only the audience will know for sure who is the trickiest! The Mischief Maker’s is a visual spectacle that explores folklore and mythology of several cultures, giving kids insight into the stories and traditions from other countries. The characters may seem very different from each other, but their stories are remarkably similar, which is truly amazing considering they come from three separate continents! We hope your kids will see the connections as well!

Sincerely, Lauren Unbekant, Director of Educational Outreach

Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


Meet the Playwright Lowell Swortzell (1930-2004)

remains the only Educational Theatre author to receive the New York Times’ Outstanding Book of the Year Award. A Fulbright Scholar, Swortzell was inducted into the Kennedy Center’s College of Fellows of the American Theatre in 1993, and in 2003 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Children’s Theatre Foundation. A year later, NYU’s Steinhardt School recognized his accomplishments with the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. In his acceptance speech, he urged students to seize life and appreciate each day as a gift. “It is not enough to be here,” he said. “You have to be, as we say in the theatre, living in the moment.” Swortzell died later that year, at the age of 74.

In his introduction to Around the World in 21 Plays: Theatre for Young Audiences, Lowell Swortzell wrote, “We judge people not so much by what they say, but what they do.” In this sense, few people did more for the field of Educational Theatre than Lowell Swortzell himself. Born in Washington, DC in 1930, Swortzell began writing and acting while only in the fifth grade. He received his Masters degree from George Washington University and his doctorate from NYU, where he met his wife, Nancy Foell. Together they co-founded the Educational Theatre program at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development in 1966. At that time, the concept of Educational Theatre was in its infancy, and the Swortzells’ one-of-akind program established them as innovators of their field.

Lowell Swortzell is remembered by his friends and colleagues as “a father figure, a friend, someone who took an interest in everyone who walked through the door.” Though he is gone, the scholarship fund that bears his name continues to provide financial support to graduate students in the field of Educational Theatre, and plays such as The Mischief Makers continue to be produced across the country.

Not only an educator, Swortzell was also the author of seven books and twenty plays, director of the annual New Plays for Young Audiences Series at the prestigious Provincetown Playhouse, and editor of several anthologies of children’s plays. He

Sources: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/ http://www.netconline.org/newsletter/2004Vol13/NETCnews13n4.pdf Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


The Trickster: An Overview Modus Operandi: The trickster is a common character in mythology, folklore, and fairy tales. S/He is a clever, mischievous person or animal who responds to dangers and challenges by using his/her wits, often resorting to trickery and deceit. The trickster rebels against authority, pokes fun at others, concocts elaborate schemes, and most of all questions the rules and structure that surrounds him/her. Through this questioning we learn to be critical and observant in our own lives.

Examples of Modern Tricksters: Brer Rabbit Bugs Bunny Bart Simpson The Joker (from Batman stories) Capt. Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean) Wile E. Coyote ‌and many more! Can you think of any others?

Trickster Stories: How Anansi Spread Wisdom http://www.ncsu.edu/chass/extension/ghanatalk/folktales/bride.html Raven Steals the Light http://www.northwest-art.com/NorthwestArt/WebPages/StoriesRavenStealstheLight.htm Reynard – European Trickster http://www.rickwalton.com/folktale/junior35.htm

Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


Folklore’s Most Wanted A Look at Our Characters ANANSI, the spider Origin: Alias: Wanted for: Profile:

The African nation of Ghana, particularly the Asanti (or, Ashanti). Also known in Caribbean nations. Ananse, Hanansi, Nansi, Nancy, Brother Anansi, Anansi-Tori, Uncle Bouki Trickery; Quick-change-artist; Hustler; Outsmarts persons larger than himself; Often gets in trouble for a misdemeanor. Son of Nyame, the Sky God, who sends Anansi to deliver rain to Earth to quench fire. Sometimes considered the creator of the sun, moon, and stars. Often believed to have created the first man, whom he taught to sow grain. One of the most popular characters in West African mythology.

RAVEN Origin: Alias: Wanted for: Profile:

Native American (Pacific Northwest, particularly the Haida tribe) Grandfather Raven, He'maskas, Txamsem, We-gyet, Nankil'slas, Yehl Selfishness; gluttony; theft; disputes with fellow-trickster Coyote Raven is credited for a variety of deeds including: stealing of the sun and moon from the Sky Chief and placing them in the heavens, discovering the first humans within a clam shell, and bringing them berries and salmon to eat. He is often depicted as somewhat clumsy, often unintentionally shaping the world around him.

REYNARD, the fox Origin: Alias: Wanted for: Profile:

Ancient Rome, later spreading through Latin-based European languages such as French, German, and English. Renard, Renart, Reinard, Reinecke, Reinhardus, Reynardt Criticism and contempt of authority; cowardice; selfishness Because tales of Reynard’s trickery are so widespread and span centuries, he is credited with an astounding number of capers. Unlike Anansi and Raven, Reynard is rarely associated with creation-type myths; rather, he challenges the structure that is already in place. The word ‘renard’ became such a popular nickname for ‘fox’ in the French language that, over time, it replaced the ancient word, ‘goupil,’ for the animal.

Courtesy of Webquest.org

Courtesy of South Central Co-Op

Courtesy of Sinai Online Art Gallery

Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


In the Classroom Questions and Activities 1. In what ways are the three characters alike? 2. In what ways are the three characters different? 3. How does Anansi spread wisdom? 4. How does Raven steal the light from the old man? 5. How does Reynard fool Raven and Anansi? 6. Who is Nyame and how is he related to Anansi? 7. Which Trickster do you think is the trickiest and why? 8. Where does the play “The Mischief Makers” take place?



“Prop Metaphor – Object Transformation”

“The Artist and the Piece of Clay”

Actors in The Mischief Makers use their props in some pretty unusual ways.

How does an actor change the shape of his/her body to reflect a character other than him/herself?

Have your students experiment with prop transformation through the following activity:

1. Have the students brainstorm things they notice about different characters (an old man, a bodybuilder, a doctor, etc.) paying special attention to the shapes formed by their bodies.

1. Gather a basket of everyday objects (coffee filter, pots, egg beater, etc.) 2. Give students a chance to observe what’s in the basket, paying attention to size, shape, and color of the objects.

2. In pairs, give one student the role of an artist; the other’s role will be a piece of clay.

3. Ask students to volunteer to create another definition for an object through an action. For example: a coffee filter can be a megaphone used by a politician, etc.

3. Using animal characters as a jumping-off point, have the artists mold their clay into the shape of the character. Make sure they are gentle when moving the clay! They can also give verbal instructions to shape the clay.

4. After one round of brainstorming, give the students a setting where certain objects might be found. For example: a doctor’s office, a restaurant, the classroom, etc.

4. Now let the artists take a gallery walk, noticing the different shapes. The students can then switch so that everyone gets a chance to be both artist and clay. You can then experiment with other character possibilities

Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


Resources Curriculum Links http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/totems/cosmology/raven.php/ http://www.anansistories.com/ http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9063383/Reynard-The-Fox#138668.hook/ http://www.crystalinks.com/trickster.html http://www.northern.edu/hastingw/myth.htm http://www.pantheon.org/ http://www.reynardfox.com/

Arts in Education Resources The Work of Famous Artists When They Were Young http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5529588 Kennedy Center Arts Edge http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/champions/pdfs/ChampsReport.pdf Partners for Arts Education http://www.arts4ed.org/ The Arts Edge http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1323/index.html

Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach (315) 443 - 1150


Profile for Syracuse Stage

2007-08 The Mischief Makers  

2007-08 The Mischief Makers- Study Guide

2007-08 The Mischief Makers  

2007-08 The Mischief Makers- Study Guide

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