Human Beings versus Nature: A Short Play

Activity Steps:

In this activity, you will write a short play about interactions between human beings and nature, taking place over a single day. Like Eliasson's art, the setting of your play will change over the course of the day.

1. Brainstorm:
You will be writing a play about the interaction between human beings and nature. Before writing, brainstorm some possible scenarios (you may choose to base your play on a historical event, or you may prefer to invent an imaginary scenario). Once you have come up with a few possibilities, try acting them out with a peer. Consider carefully whether or not it will be possible to write a script for the scenario you have imagined. Some questions that may help you get started:
  1. Do humans and nature coexist in harmony or in conflict with each other?
  2. How have people attempted to control nature?
  3. Why would people want to control nature?
  4. Are humans part of nature?
  5. What message would you like to communicate to your audience?
2. Draft:
Write your first draft of the play. It should be three to five minutes in length (approximately three typed pages) and should feature no fewer than two and no more than three characters. Be sure to address the following:
  1. Who are the characters?
  2. What does the setting look, feel, and smell like?
  3. How can you represent or integrate ephemeral elements in your play?
3. Peer Edit:
You will be assigned a peer editor. Read each other's work and provide constructive criticism. While reading one another's work, students should keep the following questions in mind:
  • Did the author write descriptively?
  • Were the characters clearly differentiated?
  • Were you able to clearly understand who the characters are and what the conflict is?
  • Were you able to get a complete sense of what the setting looks, sounds, and feels like?
  • Were you able to get a clear sense of the author's message?
  • How could the author improve his or her writing and make it more vivid?
  • Get together with your peer editor and discuss the comments you have made on each other's papers. Be sure to ask about anything you don't understand. This is your opportunity to get the most out of having an editor.
    4. Rewrite:
    Revise and rewrite your first draft. Pay careful attention to your editor's comments. Your final draft will be performed in class by your peers.
    5. Direct:
    Select other members of the class to rehearse and perform your play. Work with them on characters' emotions and intent. Then let them interpret your play and perform.
    6. Act:
    Perform in one of your peers' plays.
    7. Reflect:
    In your journal, reflect on the following questions:
    1. How did your perception of nature change over the course of this activity?
    2. Was the performance of your play how you imagined it? What surprised you?
    3. Now that you have seen your play performed, how might you have written it differently?
    4. What did you learn about yourself as a writer through this process?