Students will demonstrate their ability to tell stories by creating a soundless storyline and by coming up with a possible theme for the devised theatre piece.
Colored butcher paper, tape, permanent marker
Heads up Heads down- Everyone begins with heads down in a circle. When caller says “Heads Up,” look for someone else’s eye contact in the circle. If you catch someone’s glance, remove yourself from the circle.
STEP 1: Group Practice- Have the students get into partners and conduct the activity Yes and Game Divide into pairs. One person begins by making an “offer” (putting forward an idea) and the partner replies with a sentence that begins “Yes, and…” Try not to block your partner’s ideas, which can so often happen in improvisation. Instead, build on each other’s suggestions. As soon as confidence develops, you can add in actions. Use the space as much as possible. A: It’s raining B: Yes, and I’ve got a large umbrella A: Let’s shelter under it B: Yes, and the wind is blowing us into the air A: We are flying over the sea B: Yes, and we have landed on an island… And so on. It can be a very liberating game, especially as we don’t often get the chance to say “yes” to everything! A key concept is that participants should avoid trying to push their own idea at the expense of their partner’s. You can also try the game with both of you saying “Yes, and…” The literal “Yes” can be dropped completely as soon as acceptance of each others’ ideas begins to become more automatic.
STEP 2: Transition- Ask the students what happened during the activity? What was their experience? Give some examples of things you saw that had to do with saying yes to anything! Tell the students that in devised theatre everyone will have lots of ideas. We need to learn to say yes to them and see if they work. We can’t shut out ideas right away. Everyone needs to feel like they can share an idea.
STEP 3: Group Practice-Have the students get into new partners, someone that they haven’t been with yet. Have them each take turns telling a story about family. They each have 1min to tell their story to their partner.
STEP 4: Discussion- After each person has had a chance to go ask them – what is a story? How can we tell stories? How can we communicate with a story? Have partners share each other’s stories. What happened when they were telling the story? Was this easy or hard for you to think of ideas? We are all a walking story and we tell it every day. How are people reading it? Help the students know that there are many ways to tell a story besides talking; dancing, sounds, movement, poems, monologues, etc.
STEP 5 Group Practice- Conduct the activity Random Sound Story. Once the class has become familiar with improvisation techniques, they can begin devising short scenes. Random Sound Story enables the group to come up with some starting points and a simple structure for a devised story. Work in small groups of 4 – 6. The groups are asked to invent a selection of random sounds – with each group member making one vocalized sound. Next, the group decides on a sequence in which these sounds are made and practices it. Each group performs its sound sequence in turn to the whole class. Now the groups are asked to make up and rehearse a story in which these sounds occur – in the sequence already decided upon. The story could be narrated or acted, or a combination of both.
STEP 6: Group Practice- Have each group perform their random sound story for the class. See – a story can be told from the foundation of sound effects!
STEP 7: Modeling/Group Discussion- Gather the students together where you have posted up the butcher paper on the wall. Remind the students once again about the target audience of elementary school children. Write the word “School” on the top of the paper. Have them say whatever comes to their mind when they hear the word school. Write down as many ideas as you can. Try to hear words that they may be really passionate about or have interesting stories about and star them for next class time.
Students can be assessed by their random sound story and their participation in activities.