Intro to Viewpoints

Educational Objective:

The students will demonstrate their understanding of Viewpoints by presenting each term in a partnership and taking a quiz on viewpoints based on the presentations.



• Butcher paper, markers, copies of pages 8-13 of Anne Bogart’s The Viewpoints Book , Viewpoints power point with Quiz questions and key – Viewpoint Quiz



Have the students spread out around the room. Have the students release the tension that is in their bodies and to open up their bodies to their surroundings. (Can use the exercise of 5 images and modify it to your students. Have them imagine a golden band around their head pulling gently upward, use soft focus, loosen arms and shoulders, strong legs and feet, open heart. Have the students continue to do this. Activity comes from The Viewpoints Book pg. 26/29) Share with the students what soft focus is. (Soft focus is when we allow our eyes to soften and relax so that instead of focusing on one or 2 things in shard focus, they can now take in many. This allows us to take the pressure off of our eyes and allows us to gather more information in a new way. Then have the students begin walking around the room and pick someone to observe without letting the person know that they are being studied. Use soft focus to do this. You cannot look directly at the person but use your peripherals. This individual can never leave your field of vision at any time. Try to maintain focus. Then have the students release that individual and pick a new individual. Do the same thing with this individual. Allow the information of that individual come towards them. Then after a minute or so, ask each of the individuals to start following another individual in addition to their previous person. After doing this for a bit, have the students go back and sit down.


Step 1:

Discussion: What was some information that you got from the people you were observing? What did you find out about them? What did you learn about them through that observation? What was the experience like when you added an additional person to your focus?


Step 2:

Transition: How could having soft focus help us as an actor? Have the students write down their thoughts on a piece of butcher paper. After they have done that discuss their answers. (Their answers may be to create a better awareness of your surroundings, to heighten your senses, to help you relax, etc) Ask a follow up question, “How does an awareness of our surroundings help us in performing a scene?” have the students then write down an experience they have had on stage or observing a performance in regards to awareness on stage.


Step 3:

Lecture: A quick overview and comparison between Americanized psychology based acting and Viewpoints
Much of American theatre and acting have been focused on the psychological and emotional aspect of the characters. Answering the questions why and focusing on the internal motivations. About 30 years ago, theatre artists in American began to explore other ways of approaching acting. Viewpoints is a technique of composition that provides a vocabulary for thinking about and acting upon movement and gesture. Originally developed in the 1970s by choreographer Mary Overlie as a method of movement improvisation, The Viewpoints theory was adapted for stage acting by directors Anne Bogart and Tina Landau. Bogart and Overlie were on the faculty of ETW at NYU in the late 1970s and early 1980s during which time Bogart was influenced by Overlie’s innovations. Overlie’s Six Viewpoints (space, story, time, emotion, movement, and shape) are considered to be a logical way to examine, analyze and create dances, while Bogart’s Viewpoints are considered practical in creating staging with actors. – from Wikipedia
The technique of soft focus (what we just did) is used in each of the 9 Viewpoints to open up our sense of awareness. Viewpoints can be used in 1) training performers; 2) building an ensemble; and 3) creating movement for the stage. Introduce the seven viewpoints: VIEWPOINTS OF TIME: Tempo, Duration, Kinesthetic response, Repetition; VIEWPOINTS OF SPACE: Shape, Gesture, Architecture, Spatial Relationship, Topography.


Step 4:

Demonstration: Explain the first Viewpoint which is tempo. Give the class an example of different tempos and how it could be used in a performance. Allow them to see how it can be applied to performance in a scene or a play.


Step 5:

Group Practice: Have the students divide into groups of 2 or 3 and assign each group one of the 8 remaining Viewpoints. Have the students study the definition and figure out a way to present it to the rest of the class as was demonstrated to them. They need to make sure that in their presentation that there is a verbal delivery of the definition and then also a physical application for performance.


Step 6:

Presentation: Have each of the groups present their Viewpoint word to the class. Have the class read off the definition, give an example/demonstration of it. The students will take notes on each of the Viewpoints. The students will be allowed to use their notes that they took during the presentations on the quiz so encourage the students to pay attention to what is being shared.


Step 7:

Check for Understanding: Have the students take a matching quiz of the 9 viewpoint vocab. Have the students take out a piece of paper and number 1-9. Instruct the students that it is a matching quiz. They are allowed to use their notes that they took during the presentations so if they want to use them they can take them out at this time.


Step 8:

Instruction: Go over what we gain from using viewpoints in our process. Connect these points back to the discussion that was had earlier in class about the benefits of soft focus.
1) Surrender: relieves pressure of having to do it on our own. It helps us build trust with what is around us. Possibility: does not have limitations. 2) Choice and freedom: we are more aware, so we have more choice, which creates greater freedom. 3) Growth: your awareness creates an opportunity to recognize your strengths and your weaknesses. 4) Wholeness: awakens all of your senses.
*if there is time begin introducing the students to the 9 Viewpoints


Step 9:

Instruction: Introduce Tempo. Have the students practice playing with different movements using tempo. After this introduce the concept of the grid. The grid is like an imaginary graph paper on the floor. They are to follow the lines of the grid. Then have the students practice tempo moving around the grid.



The students will be assessed through their participation in the activities, their presentations, and the matching quiz.