Back in the day, when a costume was called for, it was dress-up. I went to many a dress up party. My best friend had a Disney themed 21st party where we all went as our favourite character. Back then it was called a dress up party. Now it would most likely be labelled as cosplay.
insert embarrassing photo here…..
But what even is cosplay?
According to Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary apart from being a cute portmanteau of the words “Costume” and “Play” it is actually a term coined as early as 1984 to describe dressing up and enacting a character not on stage. This means it goes much farther than just “dressing up” although common usage of the word suggests this.
In a world where once nerdish and off-centre events such as Comic-Con are now household names and even “cool”, cosplay has come to the forefront of popular culture and even entered the household vernacular.
So why am I talking about this?
I had this thought the other day at work when one of the Prep classes were having a “dress up as your favourite character” day. I politely asked the Prep teacher in the photocopy room “Why?” and the best that she could come up with was “It’s fun. And we do it every year”. Fair enough. I don’t personally think you need a reason to dress up, whether you are 5 years old or 50.
But then I thought, how could we make this an authentic experience for the kids? How could we make this a learning experience? (Please feel free to drop a comment in about how you would do this in your context!!!).
I then started thinking about cosplay. It seems to be a real and authentic experience for those that do it for Comic-Con and other similar cultural events. If you are pretending to be that character, why not turn that into a drama activity? An oral language activity? Get that reluctant talker in your class to pretend to be a Jedi master and quote lines from their favourite movie.
I have had so much success with Readers Theatre activities with my class where I have given actual scripts from movies to them (usually Harry Potter, because it’s awesome!). We will usually watch a scene from the movie, read the scene as a class and then choose characters to enact it. Why not cosplay for this as well? Get the students to dress up or cosplay as their favourite Harry Potter character and do a script reading? OMG I am totally doing this next year with my class. It is a real, assessable and authentic learning experience. Why not?!?!?!?!