Integrating Mathematics into 8th Grade Theatre Studies

In 8th Grade Theater, students have been learning the process of set design, which integrates design thinking, technical theatre studies, and mathematics. Students set about to design an original set for a play or musical of their choice and create a scale model of their set. Mr. Adams asked students to use the scale of 0.5 inches (in model) = 1 foot (in real life), which is the industry standard used by professional theater companies. Students had much to consider when designing their sets, including having the correct dimensions, making sure the stage was visible to the majority of the audience, verifying that hidden objects (such as supports for set pieces) were not visible to the audience, and ensuring their set did not go higher than the proscenium arch. And they had to make certain that their set could be constructed on a stage that was 28 feet wide, 22 feet deep, and have a proscenium arch height of 18 feet.

After brainstorming and determining the idea they wanted to execute, students were asked to sketch out a bird’s eye view of their design using graph paper. Then students converted those ideas from feet into inches in order to keep everything to scale. They even learned about how to build supports for pieces that would not be visible to the audience. Once all of the pieces were cut out on heavy duty cardstock, they were adhered to and constructed onto an 11 x 14 in black foam board.