Edinburgh Festival Lessons That Teach About Culture And Art
The Edinburgh Festival provides a way for students to explore lesson plans about opera, theater, and music.
By Debra Karr
Although the Edinburgh Festival may be a household name, it is not a single event. In actuality, it is a collection of festivals that showcase arts and culture. Since 1947, many festivals, including the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh Military Tattoo Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (to name just a few) fall under the umbrella body known as the Festivals Edinburgh. These festivals have traditionally taken place in August of each year.
Today, blogs, articles, and social networking sites all around the web promote the vendors and artists that make up the fabric of these free-spirited festivals. Artists like "Princess Cabaret", a seven woman tribe of Australian comediennes who satirize Disney stereotypes of princess roles through their brazen comedy at the Fringe Festival, or eateries like the Hub, which post photos of their high, cathedral shaped windows on Facebook to attract hungry tourists and festival-goers who visit Edinburgh during the summer, are examples of the culture and creativity that the summer festival yields.
The next series of lessons may not guarantee your students a season pass, and plane ticket to Scotland for the summer, but they will give your students a glimpse into the preparation, planning, and practice necessary to achieve an artistic goal or venture that is pleasing to clients, customers, audience members and readers. Through vicariously creating a literature based theme park to critiquing an opera based on a famous Shakespeare classic, these lessons give students practice at teambuilding, writing, organizing, critical thinking skills, and the practical uses of art.
Opera, Theater, And Film Lesson Plans Bring the Edinburgh Festival Alive:
Students are divided into nine groups and assigned areas to research from the Shakespearean era. Research topics range from "swordplay and military matters" to "gardens and husbandry". Students are guided to a web site that specializes in this era, and students are asked to list five pieces of information about this topic. They later watch the opera version of Romeo and Juliet and are asked to express how the opera is different from the book. They later choose a character from the book and write a letter to "Dear Abbey" as if they were that character. This lesson is filled with multi writing activities and internet research. I would absolutely go over any unfamiliar vocabulary that might be associated with this lesson before delving into the writing exercises. Also, the voice and tone of the "Dear Abbey" letter is much different from the voice and tone of Shakespeare. Word choice, diction, and the structure of sentences was different during Shakespeare's era. It might be a good idea to decide which voice you'd like the students to use in this part of the lesson. To stretch their writing abilities, challenge them to write the "Dear Abbey" letter in the Shakespearean voice, and then have those letters read aloud.
"Who Are The Opera Whiz Kids"? This is a question that students answer when they read an article about them during this lesson. Students also create a timeline collage which illustrates obtaining expert status in a field like opera. They culminate the lesson by writing reflections about their timeline. This lesson teaches students the importance of discipline and reflection. Through learning about other students who excel in a particular field, and writing down their reflections about their own areas of interest, they are able to visibly see the results of practice and dedication. Timelines could also be substituted for calendars, graphic organizers, or organization charts, where the steps toward achieving a goal can be clearly illustrated.
After reading a selection from literature, students break off into groups and are given a Theme Park Rubric. Once the elements of a story are reviewed, students create a Theme Park based on the time period, setting, and plot of their selected story from literature and will design the theme park scripts, menus, uniforms and names of rides that coincide with their Theme Park. The collaboration between students is beneficial because students can brain storm and bounce ideas off of one another. I would give each member of each group an assigned role so that no time is wasted and everyone contributes equally. This lesson could be adapted to the Edinburgh Festival. Students could create a theme park based on the featured activities at the festival.
In this lesson, students write descriptive essays about a journey they have been on. Additionally, they watch a video from film directors and explore various parts of the world vicariously. They write about how a journey can change a person both inwardly and outwardly and they explore the power of connotation. This lesson is excellent for improving descriptive writing and making connections between words and feelings. It might be a good idea to have a word bank vocabulary handy. The writing exercises in these lessons can also be used with colorful, still photographs and images as well. This lesson can be used as a way to write about the Edinburgh Festival as though it was part of a travel journal.