Students will be able to work as a team by participating in a sculpted tableau performance exercise.
A large room with space to move around freely
After you take role, have the students form a large circle in the middle of the room. Have them very close to one another. Have them all cross one hand over another and grab hands with two different people in the circle. Then, without speaking tell them to try to get untangled without ever letting go of their partner’s hand. After they have finished, ask them the following questions: How did you communicate with the group? How could we make this go faster? (If we talk, if we appoint a leader, etc.) Let them pick one option and then have them get back into their circle and try it again. Was this effective? How could we make it more effective? (Combining options listed before) Try it one more time and see if they can get it untangled in less than 30 seconds.
Step 1: Focus Discussion
Have the class take a seat. Ask the class: What was the last game about? What did the activity accomplish? (Teamwork, focus, effort) What if someone decided to just stand completely still in a statue in the middle of the group, would it have worked then? Why or why not? The activity required everyone to participate or else it just does not work. Theatre is similar in that all parts need to work together in order to create a successful project. The actors need to be focused. The director needs to be focused. The designers need to be focused. The technicians need to be focused. The audience needs to be focused. If one part is lacking focus, then problems arise. Why is it important to focus? What does focusing look like as an actor?
Step 2: Rhythm Focus Activity
Have the students sit down in a large circle in the middle of the room. Begin by having the students pat on their legs in a steady rhythm and count out loud, “One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four…” etc. Then the teacher will start a chain of movement by doing an action for four counts. After the four counts are done, she will start a new action and the previous action will go to the next person to the right (who will do it for four counts). This will continue to go around the whole circle until it gets back to the beginning. Encourage the students to keep on a steady slow beat and pay attention to the person to their left rather than worry about if the next person gets their action. Once they have gotten around the circle at least once, then stop the motion and do it again but with only two counts and two actions. If they are successful with this, then take it down to just one count per action. Let another student try being the leader as well. Prompt them to be creative with their movements and try not to repeat the same motion several times.
Where was your focus? What happened when you lost that focus? Why is it important to keep your focus?
Step 3: Group Focus Minute
Have the students stand up and spread out throughout the room. Once they are all quiet, tell them to pick a spot on the wall in front of them to focus on. Then tell them that you have a timer and that the goal for this activity is to have everyone in the whole class completely silent and focused on that point on the wall for one whole minute. If one person even looks away, or laughs, or says anything, you will start the time over. Have them keep doing this until they are successful.
Step 4: Individual Focus Minute
Have the class sit down and then one by one have the students stand in the middle of the classroom, pick a point on the wall and try focusing for one whole minute while the rest of the students watch. Tell the observing students that they can make noises or try without getting out of their chair to get the person in the middle to lose focus.
What was your experience with this activity? Were you surprised at your abilities? Do you think you could do better? What does this activity teach you about being an actor? An audience member?
Step 5: Tableau Activity
Have the students get into groups of four and find a space in the room to sit together. Then, ask the students for the definition of a tableau. A tableau is a frozen image/picture or sculpture without sound or movement. Instruct the students that each person in their group needs to think of their favorite hobby or thing to do outside of the classroom. Then one by one, each student will be the sculptor and sculpt or shape the other three students into a picture or tableau that represents their hobby. Tell them that they will have 8 minutes to get all four tableaus figured out and then they will present them for the whole class.
Once they are finished have them present each tableau and let students guess the hobby being portrayed.
How did you work as a team in this exercise? Where did you see or experience focus during the activity?
Applaud the students for their efforts and input as they leave class.