Murder Mystery (ages 12-13)
This scheme of work develops student’s ability to create characters, linking it to restoration comedy, and by adopting Stanislavski methods in a simple form to facilitate this. By developing a fun, simple story they also examine how a plot develops, with a chance to improve their improvisational skills. The lesson workshops guide them through the story of the Earl, Miles O’Naire, introducing them to various characters at a dinner party, all of whom have a motive for murder. It enables the students to develop drama techniques such as hot-seating, duologue, tableau, angel and devil, split scene, dramatic pause, aside, status, flashbacks and creating and maintaining a character. Through practical workshops and their own independent learning, students gain an insight into how to develop tension and suspense in the form of a black comedy.
This scheme of work contains 6 drama lesson plans.
- Lesson 1: The Characters. Setting the scene, this lesson introduces students to the main character, the Earl, Miles O’Naire and the other characters who are coming to dinner. The students begin to develop the background story for each through hotseating and improvised individual mime exercises.
- Lesson 2: The Dinner Party. The dinner party is improvised and developed with tableaux and spotlighting to develop the individual character stories, accompanied by a delightful piece of music by Schubert.
- Lesson 3: The Murder. Through frozen images and slow motion the class explores different possible versions of the murder, problem solving and developing the plot at the same time.
- Lesson 4: Motives. The motives for each of the principal characters are explored and told through narration. Suspense and tension are created through the use of ‘angel and devil’.
- Lesson 5: The Police Investigation. The police investigation is conducted using hotseating and flashbacks to show the Earl’s relationship with each of the suspicious characters.
- Lesson 6: Courtroom Drama – Assessment. This is an assessment piece based on the class decision about who to arrest. The whole class improvisation takes place in the courtroom. All key Drama forms learnt and revised in the topic are used to recreate their own story and characters and recorded for self-evaluation.
Supporting materials include
- Role on the Wall Sheet
- Character Timeline sheet
- Character Profiles PowerPoint Slide
- Character Motives PowerPoint Slide
- Cut-out character props
- 1 piece of delightful dinner party music!
Additional resources are included in the appendices
- Basic Drama Skills
- End Of Unit Self-Assessment Form
The scheme of work is supplied as a downloadable zip file containing a PDF file, readable on most computers, 2 PowerPoint files and 1 piece of music (Mp3 format).
More Lesson Plans
Developing vocal delivery through fun exercises and a little Shakespeare (Year 8)
One night over dinner the Earl is found dead. A classic whodunnit? (Year 8)
Learning to think quickly and creatively with an Olympian Improvisation finale (Year 8)
Victorian stage fun, stock characters and villainous intent (Year 8)
Exploring classic storytelling, stock characters and key elements (Year 8)
Improvised comedy using stock characters and masks (Year 8)
Understanding the plight of the homeless and their families (Year 8)
Greek tragedy with Theseus, Ariadne and a labyrinth (Year 8)
Drama inspired by Aboriginal Dreamtime art and music (Year 8)
Shakespeare introduction with Olivia, Viola and Malvolio (Year 8)
Creating characters using props, improvisation and text (Year 8)
Using music to create tension, mood and atmosphere (Year 8)
Annie Besant and the famous match workers strike of 1888 (Year 8)
The use of drama to explore emotions and build self-esteem (Year 8)
An ancient take on comedy, tragedy and pantomime (Year 8)