Teaching Students About Leo Penn
Leo Penn was an American actor, director, and filmmaker who had a remarkable career on stage, television, and film. His exceptional creative talents touched many people throughout his career, making his life a perfect subject to teach students as a case study. This article discusses how to teach students about Leo Penn’s life and achievements in the context of theater arts education.
A Brief Biography
Leonard Zelig (Leo) Penn was born on August 27, 1921, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Throughout his life, he was involved in various aspects of entertainment including acting and directing for theater, television, and film. He appeared in Broadway productions such as “Three Men on a Horse” and “One Touch of Venus” before venturing into the world of television as an actor. Later in his career, he focused more on directing television shows like “Columbo”, “Star Trek”, “Bonanza”, and many more popular series from the 60s until his death in 1998.
Defining Moments in Leo’s Career
When teaching students about Leo Penn, it is essential to discuss some crucial moments that shaped his career. These can include:
1. Broadway appearances – Students should study his performances on stage to gain a better understanding of his acting prowess before moving into television and film.
2. The Hollywood blacklist era – It is vital for students to understand the political climate that influenced Leo Penn’s move from acting to directing due to being blacklisted after refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
3. Directing television series – His work behind the camera gave him a distinctive voice as a director and can serve as inspiration for budding young filmmakers.
Teaching Strategies & Methods
Here are some strategies to employ when teaching students about Leo Penn:
1. Analysis of his works – Guide students through his career by examining specific episodes of popular TV shows he directed. Discuss camera angles, lighting choices, and actor interactions as a means of understanding his creative vision.
2. Historical context – Educate students on the Hollywood Blacklist and the impact it had on Leo Penn’s life and career. Encourage students to research other artists who faced similar challenges during that era.
3. Guest speakers – Invite acting or directing professionals to share their insights on Leo Penn’s work to give students an insider’s perspective.
4. Roleplay exercises – Encourage students to act out scenes from Leo Penn’s television shows or theater performances to deepen their comprehension of his acting and directing abilities.
Teaching students about Leo Penn offers an enthralling look into the life and career of a talented artist who navigated the tumultuous Hollywood industry as both an actor and director. By analyzing his work, discussing historical context, utilizing guest speakers, and engaging in roleplay exercises, students will gain an appreciation for his unique style and appreciate how Leo Penn’s legacy continues inspiring future generations of artists.