Students will be able to show their abilities to keep in character and to react quickly by playing “Superheroes”.
• Computer with access to internet and projector for image • The following Whose Line is it Anyway? clip ready to play: http://youtu.be/WA-VFQnH9xI
Let the students play “Honey, do you love me?” in two circles. (This game was part of the characterization unit–it is played by a person in the middle saying, “Honey, I love you. Would you please give me a smile?” to someone in the circle in any way he or she thinks might make the person laugh. The person who is asked must say “Honey, I love you, but I just can’t smile” without smiling or ‘breaking’ in any way. When someone is ‘broken’, that person becomes the new person in the middle.) Urge them to use different characters, and remind them to stay respectful of one another and their audiences.
Transition into lesson: After playing for about seven minutes, ask the students to get into a seated class circle. Let them know that they are going to have to use the skills they have learned in creating a character and keeping that character when doing their next assignment. This assignment will be an improvised scene that will last up to eight minutes, and it will be performed on stage. In order for the production to flow, they must be aware of their staging as well as work together to create and keep believable characters, and they must be able to think quickly on their feet while still sticking to the rules of the loose script they will be given.
Step 1: (instruction/group practice): In order to better help the students work to think quickly on their feet while still sticking to specific rules, teach the game “Bibbity Bibbity Bop” with the students. This is played by getting into a circle. One person is in the middle. This person is trying to get back into the circle by getting others to “mess up” when asked to do a certain task. The basic way to play this game is for the person in the middle to point to someone and say as fast as he can, “bibbity bibbity bop!” The person being pointed to must say “bop!” before the person in the middle finishes it. If the person on the outside fails to do this, that person is the new person in the middle. If the person on the outside manages this, the person in the middle continues to someone else. The other basic piece of this game is if the person in the middle says only “bop!”, the person he is pointing to on the outside must say nothing. The following things are added to the basics of the game as you feel the students can do it. The person in the middle must say the command and then count to five as fast as he can. These variations call on the person being pointed to as well as the people on either side of that person. If the people on the sides do not “make it” in time, the slowest is the one in the middle. • Surfer — the person being pointed to poses as if on a surf board while those on either side create the waves with their arms. • Toaster — the person being pointed to raises his arms above his head, jumps up and down, and yells “butter me! butter me!” while those on either side create the sides of the toaster with their arms. • Jell-O — the person being pointed to wiggles his body while those on either side create the bowl with their arms. • Charlie’s Angels — the person being pointed to creates a gun with his fingers and stands erect while those on either side create guns with their fingers and place their backs on the first person’s sides, creating the classic “Charlie’s Angels” pose. • Jumberjack — the person being pointed to becomes a tree with his body while those on either side put clap their hands together and make a chopping motion toward the tree. • Chicken in the Woods — the person being pointed to becomes and tree with his body while those on either side switch places. The teaching and playing of this game will probably take up to about twenty minutes, for you want the students to be able to go as fast as they can. They have worked on pacing, so keep them going quickly. If need be, go to the center and demonstrate how fast to go (don’t “pick” people, just point to someone new each time) without having them need to switch out if they are too slow. This is a form of “training” so that they know how it’s more fun and challenging when it’s faster.
Step 2 (Discussion): Ask the students how difficult it is to keep completely in the game (or to keep a straight face) when a partner goes quickly or does something funny. How did playing “Bippity Bippity Bop” help to learn how to think quickly? How hard was it to think of things to say when you were in the middle? How hard was it to move fast enough when you were on the outside?
Step 3 (Instruction): Ask the students to sit in a place where they are able to see the screen, and pull up the Whose Line clip. Inform the students that this clip is of a game called “Superheroes.” Ask them to note how quickly the performers must work off of one another and how they each have a character to keep throughout the game. Play the clip.
Step 4 (Discussion): Ask the students to reflect on what they might have felt as an audience if the performers hadn’t been able to play off of one another immediately. How does the “yes, and…” principle come into play when thinking quickly on one’s feet? What would have happened if one of the performers hadn’t been able to keep character (or refused to do so)? Stress to the students that keeping character in performances, no matter how fast the performance may be, is extremely important, as is keeping the pacing going smoothly in improvisation so that the audience will not become bored.
Step 4/informal assessment: Play “Superheroes” for the rest of the period, assessing the students informally by analyzing performances after they are done. Questions to guide reflection and self-assessment would may be: how did the characters show? What elements of characterization are most important when thinking so quickly? Was the crisis solved, or were we too wrapped up in what characters were doing?