Students will demonstrate their ability to analyze Stanislavsky’s acting system by peer coaching other students in justifying their acting choices.
Have students pair up (either in scene partnerships or two monologue partners together) and sit knee to knee either on the floor or in chairs. Have them go through a couple beats of their piece just talking to one another but really focusing on communicating with their partner – look into their eyes, react to them, convince them, etc. (the monologists can take turns with beats)
Then have the students stand at least twenty feet apart from each other and do the same thing. The person talking can’t move at all, the listener can move around and use each other and the class landscape as obstacles. Work through the obstacles in place here – you need to do everything you can to keep your objective clear and communication solid no matter where your partner is or what is in your way or between you.
Discuss this after the exercise: What did this do for the scene? What new insights did you gain into your text/character/objectives?
Have students apply this idea of obstacles to their pieces in a less literal way. What is an obstacle that their character would realistically encounter? Is it room conflict, a physical ailment, etc.? Rehearse moments in their pieces where they really have to fight through the obstacles and the conflict that it presents.
GROUP COACHING IN JUSTIFICATION
Divide the class up into three groups (with three facilitators – one teacher and two appropriate students) and have each performance piece perform for the rest of the group. They can choose any moment/beat to start in.
The teacher and the rest of the students will ask questions in the moment of the performer(s) to “call them” on their work: Why did you say that? What are you thinking here? Who are you talking to? Why did you move just then? The performer should stop what they are doing and answer the question before returning to their piece. They can explore new interpretations, actions, and such as they are coached. The focus is NOT on directing the piece, but rather bringing up new ideas and questions that can help the actor further justify every choice they are making in their piece. They must be able to answer every “why”.
Divide the remaining class up so that each performance piece gets the chance to perform and be questioned/justify for the same amount of time. It may only be that each piece works a couple beats or so, but they can apply the idea to the rest of their piece and self-question their work.
If time allows, have student go back to independent rehearsal where they can run through their piece solidly a time or two. Remind students that they will be performing next class period. Students can be graded on their work in the group coaching as both an actor and an audience member.