Psycho-Physical (Day 2)

Lesson 4: Psycho-Physical (Day 2)


Objective: Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of psycho-physical acting techniques by using Chekov exercises in practice and demonstration of their final assessment scene.



TH:Cr3.1.II.b. Use research and script analysis to revise physical, vocal, and physiological choices impacting the believability and relevance of a drama/ theatre work

TH:Pr5.1.II.a. Refine a range of acting skills to build a believable and sustainable drama/theatre performance.

TH: Re7.1.II.a. Demonstrate an understanding of multiple interpretations of artistic criteria and how each might be used to influence future artistic choices of a drama/theatre work.

TH:Cn11.2.II.a. Formulate creative choices for a devised or scripted drama/theatre work based on theatre research about the selected topic.


Materials: Character quotes from plays, laptop & videos, Print outs of scenes.

Lesson 3.Character Quotes


Preparation: Print out character quotes, print out scenes.


Hook: Write on the board, “How do you use movement to achieve everyday objectives in your life?”

Allow a few students to answer. Ask students to demonstrate if they can. Relate all their answers back to the idea of psychological gestures. Then have the students hop up on the stage.


Warm-Up: (5 minutes) Shake-Down

Demonstrate while explaining. First start with the right hand and shake it while counting to 8. Then do the same with the left hand. Then the left foot, then the right foot. Repeat this, this time only counting to 7. Then the next round only count to 6, and so on. It should be fast, full of energy, and exciting.


Instruction: (5 minutes) Radiating

We’ve focused a lot on individual character work, but in most drama work, you are trying to achieve your objective through or with the help of someone else. For Stanislavski, this means you understand what tactics you are using to get what you want (to convince, to bribe, to beg.) Chekhov thinks that these things also need to be found in physicality. He calls it radiating and receiving.

  1. Can anyone describe those for us?
    1. Radiating is the ability to send out the invisible essence of whatever quality, emotion, or thought you wish. It is an activity of your “will.”
    2. Receiving is the ability to “pull in” the qualities, thoughts, and feelings of another character in a scene.
    3. You can think of this as the ability to send or use tactics, as well as react or receive tactics by other characters.

Let’s practice it!


Activity: (10 minutes) Radiating

Step 1: Have the students walk around the space in an abstract way.

Step 2: Continue doing this, and imagine that there are invisible rays that stream from your movements into the space. Send the rays from your body into the space around you, in the direction of your movement and after each movement. The radiation of the rays must precede and follow your movements. Send rays in different directions, all at once, from various parts of body. Fill entire space around you with rays.

Step 3: One all of, or the majority of students have demonstrated that they can do this, allow them to relax. Sit in a close and tight group for discussion.



  1. How do you think the idea of radiation and psychological gesture are linked?


Transition: Let’s try Receiving now!


Activity: (10 minutes) A round of rhythm and movement page 92

Step 1: Have the class get into a circle. Explain that this exercise requires focus, even though it may seem very silly. The more you giggle and break character (or break the action) the less you and your neighbors will get out of this activity. Try your best to focus.


Explain that we will start off with one volunteer in the middle who will make any kind of movement. It can be as strange or unusual as you want. Just like with the machines we made, this movement needs to be accompanied by a sound. It will be repeated over and over. Once the group has seen it, they need to join in, trying to receive the movement/sound and copy it exactly. Stressing the exactness of it. That means that if a woman is in the middle, the men in the circle must try not to produce a “masculine” version of the movement, and vice versa.

After a few beats of the entire group copying the movement, the person in the middle will challenge someone else in the group to take their place. They do this by going up to a person, continuing the movement. The other person will continue to receive that movement as they trade places with the person in the middle and slowly transition into changing the movement.

Demonstrate this activity. It is easier to understand when seen.


Step 2: Play the game!


  1. In what ways were we receiving in this game?
  2. How would you apply this to acting in a scene? What activity could you do to work on effective receiving?

Let’s try to combine psychological gestures, radiating, and receiving into acting a short scene.


Assessment: (25 minutes) Psycho-physical Practice and application

Step 1: Have the students get out their scripts. Have them practice the psychological gesture they created last time to begin getting in character.

Step 3: Now, have the pairs get together (if they separated.) Have them think again about what the objective of their character is. When you say, “Go” have them direct their psychological gestures towards their scene partner, as if they were radiating what they wanted to their scene partner. Describe and demonstrate as always.

Step 4: Have them continue doing this, but instruct one person in each pair to now receive the radiation. Then switch and have the other person receive. Describe and demonstrate again.

Step 5: Now, have the groups do this, but add all the words of the scene.

Step 6: Explain to the groups that they can now transition into making the story realistic. Tell them to let the movements and feelings they had in the exercise inform their acting and movement.

Step 7: Allow everyone to be able to perform their short sections for the class. Give them written feedback as you watch them.


  1. Give students feedback.
  2. What are the pros and cons of this acting method?


Conclusion/Exit Card: Great work! Before you leave, I want to pull out a piece of paper. Answer the following question:

  1. Rate yourself on how well you understand the psycho-physical acting method (1-5)
  2. Is there a certain concept you are confused about? Do you have a question about anything.

That’s a very basic version of psycho-physical acting techniques. Next time we’ll be covering physical acting methods.


Assessment Scoring: Students will receive 20 participation points for the day. They will get another 5 points for the starter.


Adaptations: Students who have difficulty speaking in the discussions can write down responses on a piece of paper. Extended time to answer verbally will be provided by the teacher.