Second Circle Voice

Lesson 6 – Second Circle Voice


Objective: Students will demonstrate their ability to speak in Second Circle and analyze their own and others’ ability by performing a sonnet for a partner and writing a self-assessment.


Essential Questions

  • Why is presence important in speech?
  • How can you tell someone is speaking in Second?
  • How can Second Circle voice help you in life?


National Standards

  • 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:Pr4.1.II. a. Discover how unique choices shape believable and sustainable drama/ theatre work.

State Standards

  • Standard L2.T.CR.5: Explore physical, vocal, and emotional choices to develop a performance that is believable, authentic, and relevant in a drama/ theatre work.
  • Standard L2.T.P.5: Use voice to communicate meaning through volume, pitch, tone, rate of speed, and vocal clarity.



  • Speaker for Mindfulness
  • Whiteboard/Markers
  • “The Second Circle” by Patsy Rodenburg
  • Sonnet 18 by Shakespeare
    • Be prepared to put the sonnet up on the projector scene or write it on the board if they haven’t memorized it
  • Paper and writing utensils for Self-Assessment




  • Begin class with mindfulness again. Encourage students to sit and breathe in Second Circle
  • Here is a link to a possible Mindfulness exercise you could use
  • After the exercise, ask students how successful they were with breathing in Second Circle



Inform students that they will review everything they’ve learned in the unit by teaching the class about the circles of energy

  • Divide the students into three groups. Give each group a circle of energy. Tell students that their group needs to teach a mini-lesson about their circle of energy to the other groups. Every student needs to participate in teaching the mini-lesson.
  • Write these instructions on the board
    • Groups need to explain the circle and why we need it in life
    • Describe and show what that circles looks like in the body
    • Describe and show what the circle looks like in breath
  • Give students time to practice their mini-lessons (5 minutes). 
  • Have students teach the lessons. Afterwards, ask students if there is anything that is still unclear to them
    • If necessary, provide clarity or clarification after each group is finished.




  • Tell students that today they will be focusing on their voices and speaking in Second Circle. Inform them that voice relies heavily on body and breath which is why we learned about those first.
  • Discussion
    • Why is it important to learn how to speak with presence?
    • What do you think Second Circle speech sounds like? Feels like? Looks like?
    • How can this type of speaking help you as an actor?
  • Explain that the voice is a powerful tool in theatre. With scripts, the dialogue is essential and it is necessary that actors perform the script with clarity. A Second Circle voice helps the audience understand what the words are saying, the emotions connected to the words, and subtext. The Second Circle voice makes the words more meaningful.
  • Ask students: what does a First Circle voice sound like? What does a Third Circle voice sound like? Why are these problematic in theatre?


Student Voices

  • Instruct students to turn to a partner. Ask the partners to talk to each other about their morning, and ask them to pay attention to what kind of voice their partner is using.
    • What kind of voices are most students using?



Tell students that they will be doing different vocal exercises to practice speaking in Second Circle. Before that, they will warm-up their bodies and breath to help them speak in Second.



  • Invite students to stand in Second Circle. Have them check these parts of the body as they stand
    • Feet – energy forward on the balls with heels also on the floor
    • Knees – unlocked
    • Hips – not thrust forward
    • Spine – up, not slumped or rigidly held
    • Shoulders – released, not rounded or lifted and pulled back
    • Head – balanced, with ease, on top of the spine
    • Jaw – unclenched, with lips lightly touching
  • Side reaching (from Lesson 5)
    • Instruct students to lean to the right and drape their left arm over their head. Tell them to focus on expanding their ribs. Repeat on the other side
  • Child’s pose
    • Ask students to move into child’s pose and think about breathing low into their abdomen



Now that the students are warmed-up, they will do voice exercises. Inform students that some of these exercises will require text and they will use Sonnet 18 (students should have this memorized). If students are not memorized, put Sonnet 18 up on the projector screen so they can read it and keep their hands free. Ask them to be focused and present even if they have to read it.



These activities come from “The Second Circle” by Patsy Rodenburg. It will be helpful to read through these exercises and try them out yourself previous to teaching the lesson.


Read Freeing the Voice: Second Circle Voice Exercise from pg. 82-84. 

  • Give students time to try each part of the exercise before moving on to the next section. 
  • Model (physically or vocally show) each step for the students before they try it.
  • Instead of having students speak William Blake’s poem, have them speak Sonnet 18.


Read Placing the Voice in Second from pg. 84-86

  • Same instructions as last exercise. Use Sonnet 18.
  • On the bottom of pg. 85 use the line “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” rather than “The grey sea and the long black land”
  • Ignore the final step on pg. 86 about recording the poem


From pg. 96

  • Ask the students to speak their poem in First. Invite them to stand and breathe in First as well.
    • Afterwards, ask students to reflect on their performance in First and notice discoveries but do not share them yet
  • Now, ask students to stand, breathe, and speak the poem in Third.
    • Again, ask students to be aware of their performance.
  • Read, “Both readings lack a trust in words and the ideas expressed in them; in fact, when not delivered in Second Circle, the language becomes redundant as it does not match the energy it was written in.”
  • Instruct students to return to a Second Circle body. Have them speak the sonnet in Second.
  • Ask students to turn their attention to you. You can also invite them to sit.



  • What did you notice about speaking in Second?
  • What changed when you spoke in First? Third?
  • Why is Second Voice important in theatre?
  • How can you use Second Voice in your life outside of theatre?



Have students return to the partner they talked to at the beginning of the lesson.

  • Instruct students to perform the sonnet for each other. The listener should be listening in Second to hear and see if the speaker is fully in Second.
  • After both students perform, ask the partnerships to discuss what they observed.
  • Have each student think about what they want to improve on during their next performance of the sonnet. Ask each student to share their improvement.
  • Invite students to find a new partner and perform the sonnet for this new partner. Have the partnerships share observations after the performances.
  • Finally, ask students to write down a self-assessment score 1-5 on how their final performance was. Also, ask them to write down a goal of what they will work on with Sonnet 18 before the Final Assessment (in a few lessons).