Students will demonstrate an understanding of stage directions by participating in a Stage Direction bingo test. The lesson can continue into an introduction to blocking using stage direction notations and blocking a contentless scene.
When the students have gotten settled, come in and will a loud voice say, “Follow me to the Stage.” Then lead the class to the stage. Tell them that they will need a writing utensil. As the come onto the stage give them a letter and have them tape them on the front of their shirts.
Instruction: Ask for a brave volunteer to show you where center stage is. If no one knows then direct a student with a C taped on them to the center of the stage. Then ask where down center is. If the students don’t know then explain to them the history of the stage-that Greek theatre had sloped stages. Tell them it’s easy to remember by going down to the audience. Then go through all the positions of stage: Right, Left, Up, Down.
Checking for Understanding: This time have the students break up into groups of two. Have one group at a time go; ask for a brave group to start. Shout out a position and the students have to go quickly to that spot. Have the pair connected physically somehow (linking arms, holding hands, etc.). Have them go to different spots on stage, repeating those that they had trouble with. Try to get through as many pairs as possible.
Assessment: Bingo test – this time have the students sit in the audience. Pass out the Stage Direction Bingo Sheet. This time you move to a position and give a number – make sure you either write down the numbers with the positions or remember the number you give. As you give the numbers the students will write the number in the corresponding position on their paper. Do this until someone gets Bingo. You can give a prize if you feel so inclined. Have the students turn in the Bingo Sheet at the end of class.
Ask them why it is important to know stage direction as an actor. Help them find for themselves that actors need to know so when the director gives them blocking they know where to go.
The Bingo Test is the assessment in this lesson. Their grade for the day will be determined on the test but also on participation with the lesson.
To continue this lesson into blocking….
Transition –Go back to the classroom. Hand out a U, D, L, R, or C (a paper with a drawing of a stage on it). Call out the key words and have the students write in all the stage directions on the paper. Teach them the proper abbreviations for each term and introduce the symbol when a character “crosses” to a different position, sits down, or stands up:
center stage = C stage right = R stage left = L cross = X down center = DC down right = DR down left = DL sits down = ↓ up center = UC up right = UR up left = UL stands up = ↑
Modeling – Put up an overhead of a page from a script. Tell the class that the actors movement on the stage is called their “blocking.” As a class, create some blocking for the script on the overhead, drawing arrows on the diagram on the board to see where everyone is. Then write in the blocking for each character in the script on the overhead using the correct notation. Talk about why they chose to move the characters when they did. Discuss how dialogue gives us clues about where the actors should be in relation to each other.
Guided Practice – Assign partners for a duo scene and hand out scripts. Or hand out contentless scenes and have students create a scenario and relationship. Encourage the students to utilize the space on the stage. Give them time to block their scene with their partner. Have them write in their stage directions using proper notation.
Assessment: Scripts must be handed in with partners’ names to get points for writing in the blocking. Also, give them points for active participation in class. Contentless scenes could be performed immediately with feedback on blocking given after each performance.