Lesson Objective: Students will demonstrate their understanding of objectives in acting by identifying their character’s objective, plotting out tactics they use, and performing a short moment for another group.
Materials: Blindfold, a set of keys or another noise making device, Whiteboard/markers
Have students get up and stand in a large circle. Choose 2 brave souls—one to be “The Hunter” the other to be “The Hunted.” These two will stand in the middle of the circle. Everyone standing in the circle is a “Protector.” Their job is to keep the 2 in the middle safe (ex-students can put their hands up to protect themselves and to help keep the others inside the boundaries of the circle). Whoever is “The Hunter” is blindfolded. “The Hunted” is not blindfolded, but has some object that makes a noise. The objective is for the Hunted to not get tagged. The Hunter will try to tag the Hunted with “soft hands”. Occasionally ask the Hunted to ring the bell or jingle the keys. The protectors are to be quiet and help the 2 in the middle to stay safe.
Extensions: Have students take a step in to make the circle tighter to raise the stakes (large circle or small circle will change tactics) or students in the middle can use levels; getting low, etc…
Play a round or so (game ends when the Hunted is tagged. Hunted then becomes the Hunter and a new student becomes the Hunted)
When finished with the game, have all students sit down in the circle. Ask all the observers/protectors: What was this experience like for you?
What made it interesting or less interesting?
Ask those who were either Hunters or the Hunted: What was this experience like for you?
What made your goal easy or difficult to achieve? What obstacles did you have to overcome? How did you fight to overcome them?
Ask the class: How does this game relate to acting? Listen to and expand on students’ remarks.
Highlight the idea that just like in a solid performance, the harder the players tried to get their objective, the more interesting the game was to watch. When actors use a variety of tactics and when their objectives go through the other person, situations and characters becomes especially interesting and engaging to watch.
Ex—Like in the game, the smaller the circle, the higher the stakes, the higher the stakes, the more intense/amusing to watch
Ask the class: How can you apply these ideas to your scenes? Listen to and expand on students’ remarks.
To be effective as an actor, you need to KNOW what your character wants (the objective). Be able to identify it and make it strong. Discuss the following, outline key ideas on the board for students to jot down in their notes.
Strong objective vs. weak (Weak: playing the emotion–I want to be mad. I want to cry. I want to yell. Strong: active need/desire to accomplish something—involves another character. Ex-I want to convince Rudolph (a shy, homebody, mama’s boy) to run away to the Bahamas with me.
I want to convince _____ to _____. This formula will help you come up with a stronger objective that you can actually WORK for in your scene.
What do we call the WORKING for the objective?
Tactics are strongest as VERBS—meaning actions that go THROUGH the other person
Write a few lines from a contentless scene on the board. Read through the lines with the class. Ask them what is happening in the scene (or what could) be happening based on the lines? Based on their responses, ask students what could be a possible objective for each character? (this sort of scene is open ended, so the objective can be anything, but ideally it should be inspired by the lines)
Work with the class to come up with and write down potential objectives for both A and B in the scene. When you have objectives, ask students what tactics each character could use to try to achieve their objective. If students are struggling or if you want to demo the difference between weak and strong tactics, ask them the following:
Which action would be a stronger choice in the scene?
To cry about something, or to try to guilt the other character? to manipulate them, to comfort, etc…?
WHY? (“to guilt” is to make an active, honest attempt to elicit a specific response from another character. This goes through the other person in the scene, requires them to respond and fight back and/or submit)
Ask students what questions they have about tactics and objectives so far. Clarify any questions—can do more examples with the contentless scene if needed.
Have students get in their scene partnerships and pull out their scripts and writing materials. Have students take 10-15 minutes and go through their script/song. Their task is to:
Identify their character’s objective.
Identify some tactics their character uses or could use to try to achieve their objective
Roam the room while students work, offering help and observing students’ progress.
When time is up, ask students what this experience was like for them so far. What questions or difficulties are they having? Discuss their findings, if needed clarify any misconceptions or confusion.
Next, instruct students to now take 5-10 minutes to rehearse a short moment from their scene. (have them find just a short chunk of lines where the characters each have a chance to use a tactic on the other in an effort to get their objective). We’re talking like a 20-30 second chunk.
After 5 mins, get with a partner group and show them your bit.
Partners should be looking for how effectively they play the tactics/objective. Partner groups should share the following info:
Did you believe that they wanted/fought for their objectives?
W/o directing them, (ex-You need to Cry right here, etc…) offer any feedback for them what you believed, why you believed it, what could help you believe it more (commitment, more expression, more physicality, listening to each other, etc…)
When groups have finished showing/getting feedback on their little chunks, have students sit and ask them to share answers to these questions:
What were some discoveries you made doing that last exercise?
How can you use what you learned from that experience to beef up the strength of the rest of the scene?
How can you apply feedback given to you to the song portion of your scene?
The song NEEDS to have that same strong objective in it that the characters are fighting for.
Usually in the song we see if the character “won” or “lost” in regard to their objective.
Give students the rest of the class time to spend rehearsing their scenes. Remind them to focus on applying what they just experimented with
Using active tactics to get your objective.
Also–listening and responding to each other. This is what makes scene believable
Another option—if students are really far along/looking for a new challenge.
Get with another group. Practice transitioning from your scene into your song. Have the other group start your music for you so that you can focus on acting, staying in the moment.