Oedipus: The Musical - Curriculum
The following is a projected designed by Deborah Brown and Ian Finley as part of the ninth grade English I curriculum at RTHS. Oedipus Rex was included in our reading list to represent Greek culture and introduce students to the fundamentals of dramatic structure, so our task was to create a project that would not only invite an active exploration of the text of Oedipus, but also focus on those cultural and structural elements.
To this end, students were invited to propose an adaptation of Oedipus Rex as a musical. This required not only a thorough knowledge of the plot, characters and language of the original text, but also the ability to identify cultural elements of the ancient Greeks and find their modern day analogues (for elements such as movie posters, costume designs, etc.), as well as an understanding of the structure of the play in order to choose and create musical moments.
Week 1 – Introduce Project
Students are grouped and receive the video entry document. Students break down the document into items that they Know and items that they Need To Know to be successful. This Know/Need To Know chart will guide the groups forward for the remainder of the project. The project rubric makes explicit the elements that will be required in the final project, helping to answer questions on the Need To Know list. Because the Need To Know list also includes questions like “What is Oedipus Rex?” and “What is Greek Tragedy?” we provide support videos and documents to begin answering these questions.
Week 2 – Read & Analyze Oedipus Rex
Led by their Need To Know list, students determine to read Oedipus Rex, so they are able to complete the adaptation. We employ various reading techniques through the week (round robin aloud, small group aloud, individual reading time) and supplement with discussion and videos about Greek tragedy.
Week 3 – Complete Reading, Begin Creating Project Elements
This week, students finish reading Oedipus Rex and turn their focus to completing the project. Their Need To Know list includes questions like “Where do you place songs in a musical?” and “How do you create a movie poster and logline?” so videos and workshops are provided through the week to answer these questions and provide the resources needed to complete the project.
Week 4 – Complete Project, Present to Judges
Having moved all items from their Need To Know list to their Known list and completed their projects according to the rubric assigned the first week, students present their adaptation proposals and materials to invited judges. Finally, students reflect on the work, cementing what they have learned and connecting it to the larger English curriculum and the development of school-wide learning objectives.