By Katelyn Tullis



Students will introduce themselves to each other and to some basic theatre principles such as saying “yes, and” and using our bodies to tell stories by playing collaborative games and introducing themselves through objects and tableaus.


Prior Experience:

This unit is designed for students with no experience in theatre. Designed for the first day of class.


Class Style:

*Live Virtual Call.*


National Standards:

TH:Cr2-I.b. Investigate the collaborative nature of the actor, director, playwright, and designers and explore their interdependent roles in a drama/theatre work. 


Big Ideas:

  • Stories can be told with our voices as well as our bodies.
  • Good theatre makers are collaborators.


Enduring Understandings:

  • Students will practice working in a group as they develop the skill of collaboration.
  • Students will practice communicating ideas or feelings with their body instead of using their voice.
  • Students will learn to build on the ideas of others (use Yes, And).


Essential Questions:

  • What does “good” collaboration look like?
  • How can I tell stories besides using my words?



  • Zoom or other online feature with which to communicate virtually
  • Students need space to stand up and move around


INTRODUCTION (10 minutes)

  1. Introduction of self
  2. Introduction of what the class will look like
    1. Brief introduction of units
  3. Introduce class website since things will need to be posted online
  4. Class expectations (for a drama classroom)
  5. Brief tutorial on how to use an online learning device, such as Zoom, and etiquette expected for classroom behavior
    1. Muted during class, camera on, show how to use the hand raise feature, how to comment into the chat
    2. NOTE: If you go into Zoom and open the chat, you as the host have the ability to make it so that participants can only chat with the whole class publicly. I think that this would be smart. You open the chat, then click on the three dots to the right of the text bar and a drop down menu shows up.


Fortunately, Unfortunately Activity (20 minutes)

  1. One of the most important things in drama is learning to build on the ideas of others and the story that you are telling. This concept is often referred to as “Yes, And.”
  2. We will play a game of Fortunately, Unfortunately (rules here).  As we play, make sure that you build on the ideas of your peers rather than shutting their ideas down.
    1. Possible starting sentences:
      1. One day, my parents bought me the dog I’ve always wanted.
      2. One day, I learned that I could fly!
    2. Focus on working together, saying yes, and!!
  3. Play two or three rounds.
  4. Discussion
    1. Did you make any discoveries? What?
    2. What observations did you make about saying “Yes, And”?
    3. What was easy? What was hard? Why was it that way?
    4. What general ideas might one learn from this exercise that’s applicable to collaboration in theatre?  Or to life in general?


Object Activity (20 minutes)

  1. Since this is our first day of class, I want us all to introduce ourselves to each other! We will be working together a lot, so it’s important that we know each other. However, we are going to do this differently than you’ve probably ever done it before!
  2. Introduction of Self
    1. Brainstorm 2 things about yourself (what you like to do, something you like about yourself, a personality trait)
    2. Then find an object in the room that you are in to represent that thing. 
      1. For example, I love baking and I might have a cookie, so I could show that to you.
    3. Make sure to mute your microphones while you are looking for your items.
  3. Brainstorm 
    1. Microphones off for 3 minutes, while students find their objects.
  4. Share around the room
    1. Comment into the chat what you think the objects are representing
    2. Teacher will ask you to tell us what the objects were representing.


Tableau Activity (20 minutes)

  1. Another way we can share about ourselves is through our bodies. In drama, our bodies tell just as much of a story as our words do. A common tool that we use is called a tableau, or a Frozen Image. You simply freeze your body to tell a story. It can be something literal like posing as if you were brushing your teeth to demonstrate your morning routine, or it can be something more abstract. You can use the shape of your body to demonstrate feelings. Something curled up and small might show that you are afraid or turning away from something. Both of these tell stories.
  2. We are going to create a tableau together as a class.
    1. Brainstorm with class for 1 minute–how you would like to create a tableau to express your feelings about starting a new school year.  While all the students have been assigned this common theme, each individual is creating their own tableau and together they all create one big tableau.
    2. Make sure that everyone is in a gallery view in Zoom, or something similar depending on the platform being used.  Explain how that works. We want to be in gallery view so that we can see the entire class rather than just the person who is speaking. 
    3. Everyone make your tableau and freeze for 15 seconds, I want to see what everyone looks like together.
  3. Discussion
    1. What did you learn about storytelling from using your body rather than just your words?
    2. Did you choose to make a literal or figurative image?
    3. How did you come to a decision of what you were going to do with your body?
    4. Does this give you ideas of how you can make your own tableaus?
  4. You will now work in a group to create a story of loss with tableaus. You will have 7 minutes to come up with 3 tableaux as a group. Everyone will do the same tableaus within your group. Make sure that everyone knows what your three tableaus are and that you practice them and your transitions between the three. When you show them to the rest of the class, I will tell you to show us the first tableau and freeze and then when to move on to the next tableau. It will be easier if you work together as a group to decide what kind of story of loss you want to tell. Remember to say “yes and”!
    1. Walk them through what a breakout room looks like and explain your expectations.
      1. To be working. You will check in on the rooms.
      2. Make sure that video is always on and that you are listening to each other and saying “Yes, And”
  5. Work with your group to create a series of tableaus to tell a story of loss.


PERFORMANCE (15 minutes)

  1. Have students share their tableaus with the rest of the class.
    1. Have everyone who is not showing their tableau turn off your video so that we can focus on those who are sharing their tableaus. Here is a link as to how you can hide the non-video participants if you would like to.
    2. Call out the group name of each group before they perform. Tell them to perform their tableau and then talk as a class about their interpretation of the story and what happened.
  2. Discussion
    1. What makes the images from each of the groups interesting to look at? You were looking at a series of images this time around.
      1. Possibly the difference of literal and figurative tableaus
      2. Possibly the mixture of shapes (tall and low, scrunched and extended)?
    2. How did you make your decisions about how to shape your tableau?
    3. What other discoveries did you make about telling stories with your body?