Surrealist Drama Scheme of Work

Surrealist Drama Scheme of Work

Surrealist Drama (ages 13-14)

This scheme of work develops your students’ ability to apply physical theatre and absurdist ideas to their own work, in order to develop their understanding of surrealist drama. The lesson plans guide them through the ideas and methods of Jerzy Grotowski, Antonin Artaud and the artist Salvador Dali. These are applied to extracts from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Edward Lear’s ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ and to a piece of Shakespeare. It enables the students to develop drama forms including physical theatre, gibberish, creating dialogue, voices in the head, mime and the use of puns. This module takes the class on a fun, imaginative and very physical journey of artistic development.


This scheme of work contains 6 drama lesson plans.

  • Lesson 1: What is Surrealism? This lesson introduces students to Surrealism and gives students a basic understanding of the topic. The painting ‘Homage’ will be examined to aid the students’ grasp of this intriguing art form.
  • Lesson 2: Jerzy Grotowski. This lesson explores Jerzy Grotowski’s ‘Poor Theatre’ method. Using a number of fun and engaging group exercises, students will begin to familiarise themselves with Grotowski’s simple but effective method of acting, giving a physical theatre element to their work.
  • Lesson 3: Applying Grotowski to Shakespeare. Using an extract from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, students utilise some of Grotowski’s methods in order to see their effect on the speech given and on how the reader felt whilst giving the speech.
  • Lesson 4: The Theatre of The Absurd. In groups, students explore Physical Theatre through fun exercises. Using the skills gained from this they then devise and perform their own version of The Owl and The Pussycat.
  • Lesson 5: Artaud & ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Using the ‘Mock Turtle’ extract from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ students will explore the use of puns in text and surrealism within ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Students then perform the ‘Mock Turtle’ extract using mime.
  • Lesson 6: Assessment Lesson. Lesson 6 is an assessment piece based on Artaud’s ‘Theatre of The Absurd’, Grotowski’s ‘Theatre of The Poor’ and elements of Salvador Dali. Using a banana prop the students create their own piece of work. All key drama forms learnt and revised in the topic are used to create their own story and characters, recorded for self-evaluation.

Supporting materials include

  • ‘Hommage’ surreal art
  • Alice in Wonderland Powerpoint
  • The Poor and Laboratory Theatres Powerpoint
  • Theatre of the Absurd Powerpoint
  • Ariel’s Speech from ‘The Tempest’
  • ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’ by Edward Lear
  • ‘The Mock Turtle’ extract by Lewis Carroll

Additional general resources include

  • 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, and 3 PowerPoint files.


More Lesson Plans

Imaginative absurdist fun with Carroll, Artaud, Lear and Dali (Year 9)

Foppish frolics and bawdy humour from 17th Century England (Year 9)

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Developing thoughtful drama from evocative World War One poems (Year 9)

Using artistic imagery to inspire and create dramatic pieces (Year 9)

Suspenseful drama based on the macabre Edgar Allan Poe classic (Year 9)

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Classic Shakespeare with Lady Macbeth, Banquo, and three witches (Year 9)

Introduces a trio of Greek women: Medea, Electra and Hecuba (Year 9)

Creating and interpreting atmosphere and symbolism with music (Year 9)

Building drama from topical teenage problems and issues (Year 9)

Domestic violence explored through the popular TV genre (Year 9)

Using colour, costume, objects and sound in performance (Year 9)

Three theatrical giants and their influences on modern drama (Year 9)

Introduction to the three influential drama practitioners (Year 9)

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