Practicing Presence in Performance

Lesson 7 – Practicing Presence in Performance


Objective: Students will demonstrate their understanding of being present in performance by analyzing presence in others’ performances and preparing a performance with presence.


Essential Questions

  • How does presence relate to performance?
  • Why is it important to analyze others’ performances?
  • How can practicing presence in theatre help you in life?


National Standards

  • TH:Re8.1.II.a. Develop detailed supporting evidence and criteria to reinforce artistic choices, when participating in or observing a drama/theatre work. 
  • TH:Re8.1.II. Tc. Debate and distinguish multiple aesthetics, preferences, and beliefs through participation in and observation of drama/theatre work.


State Standards

  • Standard L2.T.R.5: Analyze and assess a drama/theatre work by connecting it to art forms, history, culture, and other disciplines using supporting evidence and criteria.
  • Standard L2.T.R.7: Analyze why artistic choices are made in a drama/theatre work.






  • 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


The focus of this lesson is to analyze various performances and discuss which circle the actor is in and how present they are. Presence can be used in various styles of acting.

  • Inform students that they will be watching five different versions of “To be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet. After each video, discuss the following questions
    • What circle was the performer in? Why do you think that?
    • If the performer has presence, how is it improving his performance?
    • Compare with the other videos: how can there be presence when the acting style is completely different?
  • After all of the videos, have the students discuss with a partner the following questions
    • How can you perform with presence?
    • What specific skills can you draw on from the Second Circle unit?
  • Videos:


Rehearsal Time

  • Tell students that they will have 10 minutes to finish memorizing and practice Sonnet 18 with presence. After the 10 minutes, they will get together with a partner and perform the sonnet for each other. The partners will give each other feedback, then work together for 10 minutes. Any additional time can be used for individual rehearsal time.
    • If you would like, it could beneficial to prepare and perform Sonnet 18 for them in Second Circle so they can understand your expectation of what performing with presence looks like with this text.



Partner then Full Group discussion

  • What did you discover about presence after watching the videos and practicing?
  • Why is it important to analyze others’ performances?
  • How can practicing presence in theatre help you in life?