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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Swigart



Students will be able to understand the concept of marking beats in a script by marking a script with beats.

Materials Needed

Overture from Oklahoma!

CD player

The Importance of Being Earnest Scripts

Stuart Vaughan’s book Directing Plays: A Working Professional’s Method

Overhead of The Importance of Being Earnest scene between Jack and Lady Bracknell

Schanker, Harry H. ed. The Stage and the School. Glencoe McGraw-Hill: Ohio, 1999.

Related Documents

• Earnest Scene

Anticipatory Set/Hook

Ask students to get out a piece of paper. Tell the students you will be playing a short piece of music and you would like for them to write down any change in beat, rhythm, style, feeling that they detect. Explain that you would like them Beats using the board for important information the students should to write down words like fast, slow, sad, happy, energetic, etc. What does the change mean? How is it different? Play the Oklahoma! overture, includes

dramatic beat changes. Discuss how many variations the students found. How did the music change? What effect did the change have on you? Did you stay entertained?


Hand out “The Importance of Being Ernest” script to the students. Lead discussion about beats, write important information for the students to know on the board. Discussion should be from Stuart Vaughan’s book, Directing Plays: A Working Professional’s Method. pages

71-77. Notes: · Plays are divided into acts, acts into scenes, scenes, into “beats,” each with its beginning, middle, and end. · Each beat is a single unit of conflict. · Share fun story about the origin of the word “beat.”

· The division of a play into beats is objective, everyone will be different in their choices.

· Finding beats ;

Look for a change of subject

Look for a change in who is leading the scene.

Look for where somebody enters or leaves.

Look at where someone, in own speech, finished with one problem and takes up another.

Modeling – Get out overhead of scene from “The Importance of Being

Ernest” between Jack and Lady Bracknell. Students should obtain copies of The Stage and the School and turn to page 163. Ask three students to volunteer to be Jack, Lady

Bracknell, and Stage Directions. Tell students that we will be beating the scene. They should stop whenever they think a beat is over or a new one is beginning. Anyone may contribute and should indicate they want a change by raising their hand. When the reader is finished with the line they are on stop and discuss where the beat is and why it has become a new beat.

Guided Practice – Put students into groups of two and have them mark the beats in the

Jack and Gwendolyn scene you passed out at the beginning. Instruct students that they should finish marking the script on their own for homework if they do not finish.

from The Importance of Being Earnest

by Oscar Wilde

JACK - Gwendolen, I must get christened at once - I mean we must get married at once.

There is no time to be lost.

GWENDOLEN - Married, Mr. Worthing?

JACK - Well…surely. You know that I love you, and you led me to believe, Miss Fairfax, that you were not absolutely indifferent to me.

GWENDOLEN - I adore you. But you haven’t proposed to me yet. Nothing has been said at all about marriage. The subject has not even been touched on.

JACK - Well…may I propose to you now?

GWENDOLEN - I think it would be an admirable opportunity. And to spare you any possible disappointment, Mr. Worthing, I think it only fair to tell you quite frankly before hand that I am

fully determined to accept you.

JACK - Gwendolen!

GWENDOLEN - Yes, Mr. Worthing, what have you got to say to me?

JACK - You know what I have got to say to you.

GWENDOLEN - Yes, but you don’t say it.

JACK - Gwendolen, will you marry me?

GWENDOLEN - Of course I will, darling. How long you have been about it! I am afraid you have had very little experience in how to propose.

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