Lesson Objective: Students will sharpen their scenes by setting rehearsal goals and focusing their rehearsal on the areas they received notes on during previews.
Materials: Soothing music for relaxation, Teacher Preview Notes taken last time (typed up for students)
Conduct a relaxation session with the students. Have them lie down on their backs and begin the soothing music. Guide them verbally through relaxing breathing, releasing tension in their bodies and clearing their mind. After the relaxation period, guide the students through a visualization (staying on the floor with their eyes closed and seeing the day happen in their imagination) of a day in their scene character’s life. They will supply the activities and moods of the character throughout the day as you prompt them to do daily routines (waking up, getting ready, eating breakfast, going to work, staying at home, and so forth throughout the day). Tell them that at some point during the day their character must “run into” the character(s) they are playing opposite of in their scene. It can be during an errand to the grocery store where they meet up in the produce section, it can be a date-night, it can be a business meeting, etc. This meeting must take place at some point during this day.
Once the day is complete visually, have the students mentally return to the meeting of the characters in the day. Now allow them to hear the exchange between the characters in their imagination as well as see it. Focus their attention to the tiny, fine details of the relationship and exchange (what is the body language like, how do the characters react to each other, what happens vocally in the meeting, what is being discussed, etc.?). Make sure that the students spend some time on their own mentally painting this picture and discovering new bits to their relationship and feelings toward the other character.
Have the class sit in a circle. Ask a few students to share the experience of their character that day. Have them share with the class what their character’s meeting was like and how they felt about it.
Talk with the students about how important it is to create a character that has a previous life to the scene with prior relationships and feelings. This is something that we need to see more of in final performances. Ask students to share a moment in their own life where you had an exchange with someone that you had a previous relationship with that made that exchange more tense or happy because of what you had previously gone through with that person.
Have the students take out their notebooks and respond to the following three questions in regard to their own preview performances:
What was the strongest moment/thing about your preview?
What was the weakest moment/thing about your preview?
What specific steps are you going to take before your final performances to overcome your weakest thing?
Explain that not only do you want them to see your notes and suggestions, but you want them to critically analyze their own work, see a weakness, make a goal (or objective) and then work to reach that goal before their final performances.
Pass back the preview notes you took on each performance and give the students time to work on their scenes. Have them focus their rehearsal specifically on the goals/specific steps they wrote out for improving their scenes and in applying what they learned from the visualization exercise to their scenes.
Circulate the room as students work. Offer clarification on any notes students have questions on or assistance in any other ways needed.
Students will be assessed on their participation in each activity today (visualization exercise, discussions, journal exercise, & rehearsal). If desired, could have students turn in their Journal assignment at the end of class for points.
Supplemental Lesson/Rehearsal Ideas
NOTE: Since the big assignment for this unit is basically 2 projects rolled into one (song + dialogue), students may need more time than the days outlined in this unit to rehearse their pieces—especially after getting feedback from previews. If desired/needed, you could add in an additional rehearsal day before final performances. Here are a few ideas of what could be done:
Small group performances: 1-Give students a portion of the class time to work in their partnerships. Have them focus their rehearsal on the items that they feel are weaker in their scenes (maybe the transition from scene to song, character physicality, playing objectives, etc…) 2-Have students get into small groups (3-4 partnerships) and have them perform their scenes again for each other and offering notes. Almost like a final mini-preview.
Scene Workshopping: 1-Give students a portion of the class time to work in their partnerships. Have them focus their rehearsal on the items that they feel are weaker in their scenes or on something that they received lots of notes on in their previews (maybe the transition from scene to song, character physicality, motivating movement, listening & responding, playing objectives, etc…) 2-Bring the class back together. Have a brave group come up and perform a bit of their scene for the class (it should be a portion of the scene that highlights the item they focused their rehearsal on). As a class—analyze and discuss improvements they see, also discuss areas that could still be strengthened—focusing particularly on the item they focused their rehearsal on. Have the group do the small bit of their scene again with the notes they received in mind. Help coach the group, having them stop and start if needed, asking guiding questions along the way. 3-Ask students workshopping what this experience was like for them as well as the students watching the scene. Have them discuss how they can apply the things they learned from watching a group work their scene to their own scenes. 4-Have class members get back with their partnerships and practice applying their ideas.
Have scene partners assume some sort of frozen position. Have students go through their scene—they must fight for their objective using only vocal qualities to push their tactics (tone, rate, volume, pitch). Encourage trying a variety of tactics and vocal work.
The following rehearsal ideas are from: https://www.theatrefolk.com/spotlights/directing-the-high-school-play-part-two-the-rehearsal-process
Have students play their scene only performing the actions, substituting gibberish for dialogue. How well do the actors know their blocking? What is their physicality communicating? Is it motivated?
Play the Opposite
Play a tragic scene as comedy, play a comic scene as a serious drama. Can use this as a warm up exercise to finding the opposite emotion within the scene (all dark scenes need some light, all fast paced comedy scenes need stillness)