The students will demonstrate their understanding of projection by utilizing the vocal viewpoint of architecture to say a line from a book.
Access to school library
The students will meet in the classroom and then be instructed to leave their backpacks under their chairs and follow you to the library. Once in the library, instruct the students that they have 25 minutes to pick out a children’s picture book (with words) of their choosing that is no longer than 15 pages. Explain that they will be using this book for their final project in this unit and so be sure to pick a book that they enjoy. Dr. Seuss books would be great for this project. Once they have found a book, they must sit down and read through it to be sure they know the story.
Have them check out their books and follow you back to the classroom.
Ask the students: Why do venues do sound checks before a performance? (To make sure that the sound fills the space.)
Explain that in theatre we must do the same kind of checking of the space with our voices whether or not we are using technology to enhance the volume. If the audience cannot hear you, all of the voice work you do such as pitch, gesture, and kinesthetic response are all pointless. Not only do you need to be aware of the actual location that you are performing in but also the location within your scene (if applicable).
Step 2: Actual venue or location exercise
Have the students pick a line or a sentence from their book. If they weren’t able to select a book, have them choose one from a neighbor’s book. Starting from one end of the room, have each student stand up in front of the class and say their line in order to fill the space. If you want, you can even let the students spread out throughout the room entering the corners and crevices of the space and turn around from the student speaking. The student may not sit down until they are heard clearly by every student.
After this, take the students out into the hall.
Have the students spread out a smaller distance than the room. Have every student say their line one by one quickly in order to get a feel of how they fill the space.
Is there an echo?
What volume do you probably need to speak with in this location?
Take the students outside.
Ask the students what details do they need to be aware of with this location?
Tell them to practice saying their sentence out here.
Bring the students to the large theatre or auditorium.
Have the class sit in the front row of the audience. Ask for a volunteer to go up on the stage and say their line. Then have the student turn around and say their line again with the same volume. Ask the students if they could hear them. If no, have them repeat it again until it is clearly understood.
Pick a new volunteer. While they are getting up onto the stage have the class pick any seat in the whole house. Have them say their line straight out to the audience. Have the students share if they could all hear them. If not, the student must alter their dynamic in such way that every single student can hear them.
Step 3: Location in scene
Ask for two more students to come up and do an improv scene. Tell the students that they are in a loud dance club. Encourage them to be conscious of filling the actual space as well as portraying how they would need to fill the space in a dance club. Repeat this with a new group of students and say that they are in a library. How do you fill the space of the theatre while trying to not fill the space of the library? Tell them that this is called a stage whisper. Your voice is still a loud dynamic but the place of resonance is in their throat and very breathy.
Ask the students for other scene locations that may require special attention to dynamic.
Step 4: Putting both together for their vocal performance
Have the students think about their line. Who is saying it? Where are they? How might you need to alter your voice in order to portray the location?
If their story does not specify a location, choose one. Tell the students to decide those things and then let them practice for a couple minutes. Then have each student take a turn getting up onto the stage to perform their line. The rest of the class will be spread out within the theatre and they will determine whether the student must repeat their line or not.
Homework: Once all of the students have performed, instruct the students that they have Homework. They must all have a children’s book to read by next class period or they will be forced to use one of my choice. Review the requirements of the book with them before they leave.