Students will be able to explain the techniques involved in presentational Greek acting by discussing examples and practicing gestures, exaggerated movement, exaggerated speech, and Greek chorus techniques as a class.
TEXTS AND LITERACIES:
Texts: 1. The Youtube video 2. Their bodies
Literacies: 1. Giving them focused questions before watching the video with things to look for while they’re watching the video. 2. Exploring communication through gestures.
Have the students warm up their bodies by doing the 8-6-4-2-1-1-1-1 shaking activity.
Step 1—Transition: Now that our bodies are warmed up, we’re going to start exploring movement in the context of Greek theatre and tragedy.
Step 2—Instruction/Modeling: 1. Tell students that we are going to watch a video clip. Inform them that everyone needs to be looking for what they are doing with their bodies and with their voices. Costume is not important. Makeup and hair are not important for the sake of this exercise. They need to focus on what their bodies and voices are doing. 2. Tell the students that everyone needs to think of something they see in relation to voice and something they see in relation to body/movement. We will not be asking for volunteers. We will be calling on students. 3. Show students a video clip of a performance of Greek-style presentational acting. It should include gestural acting, exaggerated movement and voice, and possibly the Greek chorus. The one we have chosen is the first few minutes of a video entitled “Sophocles Antigone: Eros Chorus and ‘Farewell Aria’” on YouTube (see “Materials” for web address). 4. Ask the students what they see in the video. Help them draw up a list of characteristics of presentational acting. Think about adding some of the terms to the Greek Graffiti Board. (5 minutes)
Step 3—Transition: This is a list of characteristics of what we call presentational acting. This is an acting style used by the Greeks in their theatre.
Step 4—Instruction: When the Greeks performed tragedy, there were very specific rules for actors on the stage. There were only 3 actors allowed to be in the same scene. The rest of the actors were all in the Greek chorus, which was a large group that all sang and danced their lines, like we just saw in the video clip. All actors used these presentational acting techniques, but the chorus was the most dance-like. Ask the students what is different about these characteristics from other styles of acting they have seen or studied.
Step 5—Transition: Tell the students we will now apply these presentational acting techniques to an actual Greek text.
Step 6—Modeling: 1. Move the students into the larger cafeteria space. 2. The major rule of this activity is no talking until instructed to do so, and no touching each other. This is an individual activity. 3. Walk around the room as yourself. 4. Stop. Walk around the room as a tragic hero. Ask for a student volunteer to give characteristics of a tragic hero (noble, royal). 5. Side coaching: Make your body really exaggerated. How can we know exactly who you are without you using words. Use your face, your arms, all different parts of your body. 6. Stop. Turn to the person nearest you. You should each have a partner. Wave at your partner as you would normally. Now, take a step back from each other and get back into your tragic hero physicality and wave as a tragic hero. How big and exaggerated can you make that waving? Remind them that waving is a gesture. 7. If they are getting silly, remind them that this is exaggerated, not goofy. 8. Walk around the room as a tragic hero and wave at five people. Once you’ve waved to five people, stop and stand in a tragic hero pose. 9. Side coaching: Are you doing the same things as a tragic hero? Try something new. What other ways can you express this character? 10. Everyone repeat after me: “He spilled his father’s blood.” This is a line from the Greek tragedy Oedipus. 11. Now, say the line as you would normally, as yourself. 12. Now, stand like a tragic hero. Think about how you are going to exaggerate your voice to say this line like a tragic hero. One the count of three, everyone say the line as a tragic hero. 13. Now, think of a gesture or movement that goes with this line as your character, a tragic hero. 14. Walk around the room and whenever I count to three, do the line with your gesture. Do this a few times. 15. Ask them to add another gesture. They should gesture on the word spilled and on the word blood. Do this several times as they walk around the room., and as time permits.
How is this different from what you’ve normally done? Do you think this is a good way to act? Why? Do you like it?