A lesson plan inspired by the VanGoYourself website. Find a famous painting, analyse what is going on and recreate it in your own way. A drama lesson plan to help develop performance skills.

Key Stage:

KS3&4 English
Pupils should be taught to:
Speak confidently and effectively, including through:
Improvising, rehearsing and performing play scripts and poetry in order to generate language and discuss language use and meaning, using role, intonation, tone, volume, mood, silence, stillness and action to add impact.


The VanGoYourself in Action film shows a group of Year 9 pupils recreating seven European paintings from The Bowes Museum collection

Suggested Classroom Activity

The VanGoYourself in Action film shows a group of Year 9 pupils recreating seven European paintings from The Bowes Museum collection.

Show the group the film. Ask them which recreations of the original paintings work best and why.

Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio
Collection of Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome.

Look at the selection of six VanGoYourself paintings available to download from this page. Either in groups or individually ask the students to choose a painting to recreate. Ask them to analyse their chosen painting. • Who is the subject? • Are they rich or poor? • What was the purpose of the painting? From that analysis ask them to write a short script for what happened immediately after the moment portrayed in the painting.

Download images.pdf

Amsterdam Orphan Girls by Nicolaas van der Waay
Collection of Amsterdam Museum,

Pupils put themselves in character and recreate poses and expressions before a photograph is taken. Pupils may choose to recreate the works in a modern style. Once the photograph is taken the pupils should then perform their script “What happened next”. If possible film each performance for evaluation.

Download images.pdf

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
Collection of Fondazione Federico Zeri - Università di Bologna, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan

The evaluation of the performance should consider: • How successful was the recreation of the painting. • How similar were the recreation of the facial expressions and poses? • How effective were the pupils in going into and out of pose?

Download images.pdf

The Lute Player By: Frans Hals
Collection of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam

Did the script illuminate an aspect of the painting that otherwise we might have missed? • How well was the script performed? • How was it received by the rest of the group? All the images are available via links from this teachers page and you can also see how others have recreated these paintings on the VanGoYourself site. (Culture Street is not responsible for the content of external sites)
Download images.pdf

Portrait of a Goldsmith by Werner van den Valckert
Collection of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam

Download images.pdf

Madonna and Child by Ambrogio Borgognone
Collection of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam

Download images.pdf

Development Activity:

To develop this activity further you could go to the Vangoyourself website and take part in the wider European project. At this stage you should further consider photo consent issues as this site is public. website.

Learning Objectives:

Pupils will:
Develop their performing skills and techniques.
Create their own piece of original drama in response to a historical source.
Evaluate the success of their work for an audience

Research, Notes and Links:

Film: Vangoyourself in Action at The Bowes Museum.

Download this lesson plan