Arts Education Artist Page

Susan Pope


Big inspires Susan. There is something about an actor who is willing to be outrageous or absurd in order to tell a story they are pledged to tell that thrills her. It’s a terrible thrill – the thrill of knowing you have put something “too big” out there to the world, and you can’t take it back now!

As an actor creating original work, Susan tends toward physical theatre, a style which hails from dance and from a period of acting history before faces loomed on theatre screens, where the movement of one eyebrow speaks volumes about one’s character. . . from times when actors had to do and do big to connect with their audiences. Her current work-in-progress employs a number of Styrofoam heads to help tell the story of the changing relationship between a woman and her aging, previously violent parent.

As a teaching artist, Susan especially enjoys exploring non-verbal expression, though she has been known to “use her words” as well! She is well versed in the Kentucky Core Content and experienced with exploring it in a hands-on manner while guiding students to create and perform new works of theatre.

Potential Residency Project

When you bring me into your classroom to teach, I will be there to meet your educational goals, and you as the teacher must let me know what those are – whether you want to:

  • Use drama to explore other content areas like social studies or literature: make student learning more hands-on, relatable, and memorable through drama.
  • Focus on the elements of drama or the humanity-in-the-arts content.
  • Use drama to address other areas of learning, such as literacy.

I address drama core content (elements, purposes, humanity-in-the-arts) or literacy through drama at any grade level, k-12.

Other potential residencies include:

  • Theatre history (customized to middle or high school Core Content)
  • Exploring literature or stories through drama (K – 12)
  • Romeo and Juliet (9th grade)
  • Industrialization and child labor (5th grade)
  • The French Revolution (10th grade)
  • The 1920’s (11th grade)
  • Children and teens in the Civil War (8th grade)
  • Music History in Motion (grades 5 – 8; drama collaboration with roster artist and musician, Mark Stampley)

Almost any subject can be made more whole-brained through drama. Let’s put our heads together!

For more information see my website at or contact me.


Industrialization and Child Labor at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

10 sessions
Grade level: 5th Grade

Provide students with:

  • A relevant social context for better understanding historical events and trends.
  • An artistic context for better understanding drama concepts and terminology.

A safe environment for exploring creative thinking and dramatic expression.

Provide teachers with:

  • A model for integrating drama into the curriculum.

Teaching format:

  • Students will be provided with information about working children of the early 1900’s and shown photographs of working children of the period. The information will focus on four basic groups of children: field workers (sharecroppers and migrant laborers); mill and mine workers; factory workers; and street workers (newsies, bootblacks, and telegraph messengers). They will also study daily life and culture, listen to music, and learn songs of the period.
  • Students will also research their own family history from the period and share their great or great-great grandparent’s stories with the class.
  • After learning about each group of workers, students will engage in drama games and improvisations in order to explore the world in which the children lived and worked.
  • Students will read primary source quotes in which children of the period describe their work. They will be coached to create a character based on the quote, adding imaginary detail about the character’s life and exploring physical expression.
  • Finally, students will adapt elements of class work into a short piece, search for and incorporate basic period-appropriate costume pieces and props, rehearse the piece, and perform it for parents and/or fellow students.

Curriculum Connections:
This lesson fits very well into KY 4.1 Social Studies Core Content for fifth grade, as it addresses the period of industrialization, production of goods and services, use of resources, and immigration. The lesson will address Drama Core Content as well as follows:

Drama Content:
I will use the following Drama Core Content terminology in my lesson, explaining the terms in the context of the work we are doing: script, setting, dialogue, conflict, costumes, props, music, non-verbal expression, facial expression and gestures. (AH-04-1.3.1: Elements of Drama)

The class will discuss how we are using drama to share the human experience, and to express and communicate emotions, ideas, and information. (AH-05-3.3.1)

The class will create and perform using the elements of drama (AH-04-4.3.1) and will improvise to tell stories that show action and have a clear beginning, middle and end. (AH-04-4.3.2)

Social Studies Content:
The class will explore the production of goods (food, textiles, clothing, cigars) and services (shoe shines, newspaper delivery, laundry services) in the U.S. during the period of industrialization and early twentieth century. (SS-05-3.4.1)

The class will use a variety of primary and secondary sources, such as memoirs, letters, quotes from oral history and historic newspapers, photographs, timelines and maps to describe significant events in the history of the U.S. (children being pulled en masse into the work force, development of Jim Crow Laws in the South, state and national movements to abolish child labor) and interpret different perspectives (those of children, parents, bosses, governments, society at large).

The class will explore scarcity and the ways that it required people in the early Twentieth Century to make economic choices and use human resources, and will also explore the costs of doing so, especially the costs to children. (SS-05-3.1.1)

The class will discuss reasons immigrants came to America during the period of industrialization and the early Twentieth Century, reasons many returned to their home countries, and how their return opened up low-paying Northern factory jobs for African Americans who moved north during the Great Migration. (SS-05-5.2.2)