Course connections to the play “Humble Boy”

From Cinse Bonino, Director of the Center for Instructional Practice

Suggestions for using Champlain Theatre’s first play in the classroom…

(This list can be found on clearspace at: Feel free to add to it!)

Study guide

Concepts to explore in the following classes:

COR 120:
* How are the two families represented in the play similar to each other as distinct community groups?

* How do they differ?

* How are the combined community (of friends & lovers) formed by the two families compare to each of the families.

* Who is the leader in each family community? Why is he or she in this role?

* Who is the leader of the combined community?

* What community “rules” or behavior expectations seem to exist?

* How does information or lack of information affect individuals and the community?

* Where does Mercy fit into this micro community structure? What is her role?

* What aspects of community might the bees represent?

COR 125:
* How does Felix’s mother argue for what she wants?

* Does she use the same “voice” and type of argument with all of the characters?

* How does Felix argue for what he wants?

* How is his argument different than his mother’s?

* How do George’s rhetorical strategies compare to those of Felix and his mother?

* Mercy shows her “character” to us through what she does and doesn’t say; which reveals more about her? Why?

* How might you present a particular argument to each of these characters?

* Does everyone have an equal voice in what happens in this group?

* Is there an unspoken “election” of a particular person as leader?

* What are the “goods” that each person strives to acquire? What must they “spend” in order to obtain those goods?

* How is information or the lack thereof used as power in this social group?

The Secular & the Sacred
* In what ways could the bees be seen as sacred to Felix’s father?

* Does secular approval or “official” recognition of something we hold sacred affect how sacred it seems to us?

* What is sacred to Felix?

* What seems to be the guiding principle in each character’s life?

Global Studies: Human Rights
* Should a woman be required, morally or by law, to inform a man if she bears his child?

* Should a child have the right to know who his father is?

* Is it acceptable to lie to someone about a major life event in their parent (or other loved one’s life) in order to “spare” them pain?

Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations, Broadcasting, Brand and Account Management
* How can you use various characteristics of bees to sell non-bee related products?

* How would you market this play to different audiences?

* Flowers are often named after people – what kinds of names for flowers might you create for particular celebrity, political, or historical figures?

* Use the words “Humble Boy” as a brand – what is it for? How does it look?

* What PSA could you write based on a concept within this play?

Electronic Media Writing & Publishing
* How might you script this play as an audio only production?

* Imagine that this story is a movie – how would you “show” what happened on the stage?

* What PSA could you write based on a concept within this play?

Media and Society, Film/Film History, Video Storytelling, & Audio Production
* How have father/son and mother/son relationships been used in film scripts?

* How might you make use of a “missing” or deceased parent in a script? What is gained by having one parent be absent from the interactions of the other characters?

* How have films handled the possible connections that exist between survivors and their deceased loved ones? How do they “show” them to the audience?

* What type of direction would you give to each actor to help them better portray their character?

* How could you create a video of this play telling the story from a different point of view – the remaining queen bee for example?

Human Communication & Small Group Communication
* How does Felix’s mother treat each of the other characters? How do you think each of them would describe how she views them?

* Felix has reverted to stuttering; is he able to communicate successfully anyway? Why or why not?

* Does Felix’s communication style differ when he speaks with different characters?

* What are the power dynamics within each family group?

* What are the power dynamics when the families get together?

* Do the characters have any common goals or views?

* Mercy seems unaware of much that is going on around her; how does this affect her ability to communicate with the others?

Game Design, Game Development, & Art & Animation
* If each of these characters were part of a bee hive which type of bee would they be?

* What are the obstacles that Felix has to traverse in order to reach his destination? What is his destination or goal; what are key points along the way?

* How could you use art to tell this story without using text?

* How would you navigate through this same storyline differently as each of the characters?

* What animal could be used to represent each character?

* Brainstorm various games based on bees, based on flowers, based on gardens…

Drawing, Art History, Sculpture
* How have bees been used in art? What do bees represent in art in different cultures?

* How many ways could you incorporate a honeycomb pattern into art?

* If “Humble Boy” were the title of a painting or a sculpture, what would it look like? What would it represent?

* How can you use art to portray humbleness?

* If you were to draw each character in an exaggerated manner, what would you focus on for each?

Graphic Design, Typography
* What font would you use to portray humility?

* How might you design a flower seed pack or perennial label to represent each character?

* Create a garden diagram that portrays the importance of and interactions among characters.

* Why does Felix’s mother keep secrets from him?

* What might be causing Felix to stutter?

* Why does Felix’s mother feel an attraction to George?

* Felix’s mother has/had a complicated relationship with his father – how would you describe their relationship based on the evidence at hand?

* Why does Mercy seem so willing to “support” Felix’s mother? Is this a healthy relationship?

* How self-aware does George appear to be?

* How might you use attributes of a bee hive to help students learn about: dance & movement, communication, community, working collaboratively, safety, sounds, the letter Z, the letter B, designs, shapes, homes, flight, food, and folk medicine?

* How might you design an integrated cross subject instructional plan to maximize a visit to a beekeeper?

Writing, Creative Writing, Creative Non-Fiction, Journalism, & Interactive Storytelling
* How might an author tell this story from each of the different character’s perspective?

* How might this story be used as part of an anthology? What would the overarching topic be?

* What non-fiction topics can be found within this play?

* What choice points could you embed in this story to make it interactive? What would be some of the possible consequences or outcomes of those choices?

* How would you write a newspaper report of Felix’s dad’s death that included a character sketch of the man?

* Is there only one” true” version of what happened in a given situation?

* How can a writer honor the truth when relating an event that actually took place?

* How would each of the characters describe Felix’s dad differently? How might a good reported combine those stories to create a “truthful” whole?

* Write a poem about the bees, about being Humble Boy, about naming a flower or a star for someone you admire (or detest)…

* Write a children’s story about a beekeeper and his relationship to his bees and his son or daughter.

Human Sexuality
* Should women be required morally or by law to let a man know when she bears his child?

* How was the attraction that Felix and George’s daughter felt the same or different than that between George and Felix’s mom?

* Is it possible for two people who have been sexually involved to ever be “just friends” after they break up?

* Why do you think Felix’s mom chose to have a relationship with George? Was the relationship about sex?

* Why does George’s daughter offer herself sexually to Felix?

* How do the sex lives of bees compare to those of humans? Are there any similarities?


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