Acting Methods and Styles
Students will be able to demonstrate their ability to explore and use their imagination by participation in both group and individual exercises through out the class period.
o Synthesize knowledge from a variety of dramatic forms, theatrical conventions, and technologies to create the visual composition of a drama/theatre work
o Synthesize knowledge from a variety of dramatic forms, theatrical conventions, and technologies to create the visual composition of a drama/theatre work.
o Apply a variety of researched acting techniques as an approach to character choices in a drama/theatre work.
o Use and justify a collection of acting exercises from reliable resources to prepare a believable and sustainable performance.
• Freeing the Natural Voice by Kristin Linklater (2006)
• An open work space.
Explain to the students that they should follow you onto the stage and lie down flat on their back. Instruct them to close their eyes. Explain that we are going to continue exploring Stanislavski today, so we will being on relaxation and concentration. There should be no talking, and only listening [3 minutes]
Step 1: Group Practice [10 minutes] Once students are situated on the floor, take them through the relaxation exercise in Kristin Linklater’s book “Freeing the Natural Voice,” found on page 54. Follow her instructions. You can even read directly from the book (in fact I would recommend that—her wordings are much better than what I could come up with).
Take your time as you go through the instructions. Don’t rush the students and allow for enough time for them to truly feel relaxed. It should take about 10 minutes to complete the whole activity.
Step 2: Discussion [4 minutes] Once you’ve completed the relaxation exercise, explain that students should take caution in standing back up. Let them take their time, then begin a short discussion to start the student’s brains up. Use the following questions:
• How do you feel?
• Why do you feel that way?
• How can relaxation prepare you for creative work? Have you experienced that before?
Entertain thoughts and ideas for several minutes as student’s brains and bodies wake back up. Then continue to the next step.
Step 3: Group Practice [10 minutes] Ask the students to sit in a circle. They should face the middle. Explain that this is a silent activity. Then continue on using the following prompts:
1. In the middle of the circle, there is a golden ball. Can you see it? It is right in the middle of the circle.
2. Observe the ball. See its color, its texture. See its size. Guess it’s weight.
3. The ball is glowing now. It is emanating a soft light. What does it look like?
a. At this point you can ask specific students, “What does the ball look like, Travis?” How big is it, Nancy?”
b. Use their input as you continue to describe the ball.
4. The ball is suddenly transforming…it is now an egg. And the egg is glowing.
a. What does is look like now, Matt?
b. What else about it, Jeff?
5. Now inside that glowing egg, there is a poisonous snake. What’s it doing?
6. The egg is about to hatch.
a. At this point call on a specific volunteer.
7. Dillon, go pick up the egg.
The purpose of this exercise is to get the students to get deeply invested with their imaginations. By the time the egg is about to hatch, the students should hopefully be involved enough that the suggestion of a poisonous hatchling should frighten them in some way. It doesn’t matter what the last volunteer does, as long as they are reacting honestly.
Step 4: Discussion [5 minutes] Once the volunteer has picked the egg up, or if she leaves it in the middle, you “hatch” the egg for a nice surprise. Then thank the class for their participation. Lead a short discussion using the following questions:
• What was that experience like?
• Did you feel anything?
• What happened when I told you it was a snake?
Usually, students will be excited to talk and will give you plenty to work with. Let as many students respond as you can. As the discussion winds us, explain that we’re going to try another exercise.
Step 5: Modeling [5 minutes] Choose a volunteer who you feel is willing to trust you and is willing to let their imagination take over. Explain to the volunteer that there is a box in the middle of the circle. Then ask the volunteer to think of the thing that they want most in the world—more than anything else. They should divulge it to the group. Once they have that in their mind, explain that inside the box in the middle of the room is what they want. Leave the prompt there. The student should most likely pick it up and open it. As the open it, offer them some side coaching:
• This is what you want most. In the entire world, this is what you want.
• See it first. Open it and see it. Take it in. What does it mean?
• Let the imagination take you there.
The student should respond to your prompts and will “receive” their desire in an honest way, hopefully.
Step 6: Discussion [5 minutes] After the volunteer has demonstrated, ask the class several questions:
• What did you see?
• Were you interested? Why?
• How did she feel about it? Was it clear?
Let students respond to questions for a few minutes before moving on.
Step 7: Group Practice [10 minutes] Explain that you are now going to try a few exercises as a group. First pose the following question: What if I told you that the time was now 3:00 AM? Get responses from as many students as you can. Prompt them to ask their own questions, such as “Why are we still here? Why haven’t I left? Why have you kept us?” As you start to receive questions, pose them right back to the class. Encourage them to fill in the gaps. Why are we here? Why haven’t you left? Imagine the circumstanced! Allow this to continue as students create the circumstances together.
Then explain that we are going to go a different direction. What if this room were actually a pirate ship? Students will start to suggest ideas and details. Eventually, simply ask the class, “Show me.” They will most likely, without too much prompting, start creating the life aboard a pirate ship. As they continue on, give them some side coaching:
• What is the air like?
• What is the whether like?
• What is the ocean like?
• What are you wearing?
• How does it smell?
• Who are you talking to?
• Why are you here?
Encourage their imagination for several minutes as they create the pirate ship. Then bring them back to reality and continue to the next step.
NOTE: You can substitute these imagination scenarios with any scenario you’d like, as long as it allows students to take responsibility for filling in the gaps with their imaginations.
Step 8: Discussion [5 minutes] Lead a discussion using the following questions:
• What is that experience like?
• Did anyone make any discoveries about themselves or their imagination?
• Did anyone feel anything? What? How?
• By what power did we create this pirate ship?
Take as many comments as you can, using them to springboard into other questions that encourage the class to think beyond the obvious. Be sure to emphasize that it is through the imagination, through the magic if, that we start to emote and to feel things as we act. Without that lever, the emotion is much harder to find. That is why the Magic If is so important to Stanislavski’s technique.
As the discussion winds down, thank the class for their participation and then continue to the next step.
Step 9: Assignment [10 minutes] Split the class into six groups. Explain that each of the groups will be assigned a name. They need to come next time prepared to give a short presentation on the person they were assigned. The presentation should be no more than 5 minutes. Explain they should use the internet, books in the classroom, or any other resource they might have access to gather their information. Emphasize that these presentations need not be anything grand. However, the whole group must participate in the presentation. They will have some time on the next day to communicate with their group mates prior to giving their presentation. However, everyone should come prepared with as much information as they can on his or her person. Ask for clarifying questions, then assign each group one of the names below.
• Harold Clurman
• Lee Strasberg
• Uta Hagen
• Stella Adler
• Sanford Meisner
• The Group Theatre in New York City
Students can be assessed through their participation in discussions and class activities. Students should be respectful of themselves as well as of their classmates. Their participation is worth 20 points. Don’t hesitate to dock students today if necessary. It’s a great to establish that we respect each other in this classroom.