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Students read scenes where characters from the play tried to support Fin. Students adopt the mantle of the expert (a dramatic technique wherein students adopt the role of a character who has expertise in a field relevant to what students are studying. See Dorothy Heathcote.) to act as a consultant to one of the characters from the play. They practice their listening skills and offer suggestions for how the character can support Fin, or another character. Ties into an examination of the spectrum of allyship/solidarity.
- Copies of excerpts from two scenes in Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls
- Solidarity Spectrum Handout (Grade 4-6)
- Solidarity Spectrum Handout (Grades 7-8)
- Solidarity Spectrum Worksheet and answer key
- Props/costumes for the person adopting the mantle of the expert [e.g. books by trans authors, about being trans, about trans children; mugs as if they have made tea or coffee for the other character; a lab coat as if they are a doctor; a printout on how to be an effective ally (see attached); a clipboard or legal pad as if they are a psychiatrist]
Read one or more of 'The Doctor Is In' Scene Excerpts with students, adapting reading by grade level: you may choose to read to them, have students read individually, with partners, or to have volunteers to read for the whole class. After reading the scene, engage with the suggested discussion questions or questions of your own. After reading and discussing the scenes, have students read the Solidarity Spectrum Handout (Grade 4-6) or the Solidarity Spectrum Handout (Grades 7-8). Ask them to fill out the corresponding Solidarity Spectrum Worksheet and answer key.
After filling out the worksheet, ask for two volunteers to improvise a scene in front of the class. One will adopt the mantle of the expert as someone who is an expert in being an ally to trans people. This could be a friend, community worker, social worker, doctor, psychiatrist, consultant, etc. It is important to note that expertise does not always lie with those with professional qualifications. It can be helpful for students to have props or costumes that they can use to feel like the character they are portraying. The other volunteer takes on the role of one of the characters from the show, seeking advice on how to be an ally to another character. The character seeking advice presents their problem to the expert, and the expert suggests different solutions or offers different perspectives on the problem. Let students know that they will not be tackling the scene alone. This example scene in front of the class should involve a lot of coaching from the teacher and students may need help finding the right words. You may offer suggestions yourself, but it is even better to involve the whole class. Ask the class how they would respond to the problem being presented, and then allow the student who is acting as the expert to choose the answer they think is best.
After this first coached improvisation, you may wish to bring other volunteers to the front to improvise with less coaching or to tackle a different scene. When you feel that the class is ready, you can put students into small groups to improvise small scenes. You can divide them into groups of two or you might make groups of three or four to have an audience for the mini scenes that can offer suggestions to the actors. Let students know that they can draw upon their answers to the worksheet to inspire their improvisation. Give the students enough time to play both the role of the expert, the role of the person seeking advice, and to act as a member of the audience if you have used larger groups. After students have had a chance to adopt all roles, bring the class back together and ask for volunteers to recreate their scenes in front of the whole class. They may still need coaching during the scene. Be sure to discuss the scenes after they are presented. Was the advice offered helpful? Why or why not?
Finally, after the scenes are completed. Have students return to their worksheets and add all of the ways they have learned of supporting trans people to the answers they already have.
Heathcote, D., & Bolton, G.M. (1995). Drama for Learning: Dorothy Heathcote's mantle of the expert approach to education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.