ALEX Learning Activity


Monologue Inspired by Humans of New York

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

You may save this Learning Activity to your hard drive as an .html file by selecting “File”,then “Save As” from your browser’s pull down menu. The file name extension must be .html.
  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Amy Patel
System:Madison City
School:James Clemens High School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 1796
Monologue Inspired by Humans of New York
Digital Tool/Resource:
Monologue Pre-writing
Web Address – URL:

Students will create a character and write a monologue portraying that character, inspired by photos and descriptions from the Humans of New York series. 

This activity was created as a result of the Arts COS Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Arts Education
ARTS (2017)
Grade: 9-12
Theatre: Accomplished
3) Use personal experiences and knowledge to develop a character who is believable and authentic in a drama/theatre work.

Unpacked Content
Artistic Process: Creating
Anchor Standards:
Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
Process Components: Develop
Essential Questions:
EU: Theatre artists work to discover different ways of communicating meaning.
EQ: How, when, and why do theatre artists' choices change?
Concepts & Vocabulary:
  • Author research
  • previous productions of the specific play
  • Text breakdown
  • Expositions
  • Public Solitude
  • Biomechanic
  • Lessac
  • Laban
  • Accents
  • Method of Physical Action
  • Warm ups
  • Laban
  • emotional memory
  • sense memory
  • substitution
  • affective memory
  • given circumstances
  • ensemble work
  • lighting
  • innovation/evolution of technical theatre
  • technical crews and their jobs
Theatrical production
  • World of the play
  • Production concept
  • Copyrights and the right of the playwright
Skill Examples:
  • Students will pick one of 10 plays that represent plays from across multiple genres. They will begin the design process using research about prior productions of our play. They will work together to present their design for the play. Their research will be a large part of their grade.
  • Students will study lighting in class. They will have lecture and discussion about the evolution of lighting in theatre. They will also discuss how lighting has allowed them to accomplish more with less instruments. Additionally, the students will "invent" their own lighting instrument that will fix the issues that they are currently experiencing as designers and technicians.
  • The students will begin studying the acting technique of Stanislavski and The Method. They will demonstrate their new knowledge in their monologues for class.
  • Students will work together to create a performance of Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology. They will work together to find pieces for every student in the class that work within the intent of the assignment. Students will create strong characters based off the short monologues in the play. Students will pair and critique each other during the process. Students can perform for other classes or film themselves for a final review after the performance.
  • Students will create costumes, lighting, sound and a set design for their performance of Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology.
Learning Objectives:

Students will be able to create a character bio by making choices about their imagined character's background and experiences.

Students will be able to write a dramatic piece inspired by a real person. 

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

  1. Students will explore the photos and descriptions or quotations from the Humans of New York (HONY) series. These can be found online or in the Humans of New York book by Brandon Stanton. NOTE: Stanton has expanded his coverage to include people in other locations, as well, such as India.
  2. Students will choose one person from the HONY series. The HONY post will give them a photo and a short text but very little else.
  3. Direct students to complete the Monologue Pre-writing document referring to the photo of the person they selected.  This pre-writing activity will walk the students through creating a character bio by making choices about the imagined character's background and experience.  Some students may need to do perform research into the person's culture to make more believable choices. Remind students that there are no right or wrong answers, but their choices should be supported by the photo, given text, and additional research.
  4. Using the information collected during the pre-write, have the students write a monologue from a MOMENT in the life of their character.  Students may use direct quotes from the HONY page, but encourage them not to use the entire interview. 
  5. Encourage the students to get into character, and speak it out loud as they write it. Work in small groups to share and get ideas.  
Assessment Strategies:

  • Create a rubric evaluating the character development and written monologue. 
  • Students may read and give feedback on one another's written pieces. 
  • Students may self-reflect or self-evaluate their character bio and written piece.

Advanced Preparation:

Students should have experience or knowledge of scene structure and basic playwriting.

Variation Tips (optional):

Students may write a monologue, duo scene, group scene or longer piece. 

After writing the piece, students may rehearse and perform.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: