Students will apply their knowledge of improvisation in a performance setting by performing a scene with obstacles.
copies of a contentless scene for the entire class – included, note cards labeled with persona descriptions: · You always miss your entrance · You frequently forget your next line · You get stage freight · You forget your blocking · You frequently break character
(8 minutes): Have the students sit with you in a circle. Explain that you are going to tell them a story about yourself. Relate to the students a time when you were in a performance and something went wrong, such as a missing prop, someone missed their entrance, costume malfunction, etc.
Step 1( 2 minutes): Explain to the students that many times when we are performing things go wrong and we need to always be ready to cover mistakes. Oftentimes these situations require a little improvisation from the actors.
Step 2 (5 minutes): Ask the students, “What are some possible things that have gone wrong in a scene you have done or a play that you have seen? Most importantly, what did actors do to cover the mistake? How did it affect the audience?” Let the students give their answers.
Step 3 (10 minutes): Ask the students “When you are performing what are some things that could go wrong? What can you do to recover? Is there any way to prepare for such an event?” You may choose to get really specific such as, “What could you do if you accidently tripped on stage?” or “What could you say if your scene partner blanks and does not remember their line?” You may want to write their suggestions on the board.
Step 4 (5-7 minutes): Invite the students to get into groups of 3. Give each group contentless scenes and give them 5-7 minutes to read through it and rehearse it. Explain that these need to be as polished as possible. They will need to have distinct setting and characters.
Step 5 (25 minutes): Ask the students perform their scenes. As each group gets up to perform hand one student a note card with a persona. Explain to the student that they need to incorporate it into their performance. Explain to the entire class that their objective is to stay in character and to adapt their scene as necessary remaining true to the script and character. Students are expected to continue the scene and to apply the ideas discussed earlier in recovering their scenes.
Step 6 (15 minutes): After each performance, receive feedback from the actors. What was their experience like? What was difficult? Having more time now to think – is there anything that you would have done differently? Evaluate with the class what the actors did well to recover. What else could they have done? Repeat this process with each of the scenes. If any actors really struggle to improvise a good recovery, allow them to try it again but with a different persona.
Step 7 (5 minutes): Brainstorm with the students ways that an actor might learn to prepare for incidences like this? How can an actor become better at improvisation?
Step 8 (5 minutes): Assure the students that surprises inevitably come in performances no matter how much you try to prevent them. Strengthening improvisational skills and knowing what to do in such situations is what truly makes an actor professional. Review with the students what things they have learned today about improvising during a performance.
Students will apply their knowledge of improvisation for performance by performing a contentless scene with obstacles and reflecting on their experience.