Intro to Storytelling with our Bodies

Intro to Storytelling with our Bodies

By Katelyn Tullis 


Students will demonstrate their ability to tell a story with their body and voice by identifying and rehearsing with different objectives and tactics within contentless scenes. 


Prior Experience:

Students will draw on their past knowledge of script analysis, “yes and,” and tableaus to help them tell the story of the script in this lesson.


Class Style:

*Live Virtual Call.*


National Standards:

TH:Cr1.1.Ic. Use script analysis to generate ideas about a character that is believable and authentic in a drama/theatre work

TH:Cr3.1.I.b. Explore physical, vocal and physiological choices to develop a performance that is believable, authentic, and relevant to a drama/theatre work.

TH:Pr4.1.Ib. Shape character choices using given circumstances in a drama/theatre work.


Big Ideas:

  • Stories can be told with my voice and my body.
  • The script is the basis for all acting choices.
  • Part of being an actor is understanding objectives and tactics.


Enduring Understandings:

  • Students will learn that script analysis should inform their acting choices.
  • Students will experiment with telling a story both vocally and physically. 
  • Students will learn how to use objectives and tactics in their character work.


Essential Questions:

  • What does script analysis look like for an actor?
  • What are objectives and tactics and why are they important?
  • Why are there so many different ways to tell a story (physically and vocally)? What impact do those different techniques have on the audience?





Email out the contentless scenes or have them posted to the class website.


HOOK (15 minutes)

  1. Go through the National Theatre warmups for body and voice as a class. 
    1. You can screencast the videos on your screen and have everyone follow along, muted.
    2. You could also learn the routines and do them yourself and encourage your class to follow along with you. 
  2. *In class variation: you can do Kitty Wants a Corner (rules here). Encourage students to try different tactics to get their peers to allow them into a corner.*


INSTRUCTION #1 (15 minutes)

  1. Share your screen over Zoom so that students can see the powerpoint from your screen. Explain the terms on each section of the powerpoint. 
    1. Go over the objectives and tactics powerpoint. (Link is in the materials section.)


GUIDED PRACTICE #1 (20 minutes)

  1. “We will practice working with objectives with contentless scenes.”
  2. Describe what contentless scenes are.
    1. It is a brief script with no defined relationship or setting. You can decide what your character is and what your relationship should be. The more specific you are, though, the better chance we will have at discovering it as an audience. You should always choose something that can work with the script though! Look at the clues in the script to help you pick a setting and a character.
    2. Keep it appropriate 🙂
  3. “We will do this in pairs in breakout rooms. Once you get to your room, pick which character you would like to play. Read through the script together then decide what your objectives might be. We will use the first contentless scene (you should have this in your email or you can find it on the class website). You will have 10 minutes to read through, discover objectives, and practice running through their script attempting to obtain your character’s objective. You can switch characters if you have extra time.”
    1. Remind students what expectations are for a breakout room.
      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”
  4. Students split into Zoom breakout rooms. Give students 10 minutes. Then bring students back into the main classroom.
  5. Discussion
    1. What did you discover about objectives?
    2. How did you decide what your character was going to be? Or the setting?
    3. How did your character choice impact your objective?


GUIDED PRACTICE #2 (15 minutes)

  1. “This time we will practice with tactics. Once you read through your new script, write out an objective and at least two tactics that you would like to try. You might have found that you already were doing this in our last practice. If you were, try working with different tactics this time!”
    1. Remember that tactics can be physical. Remember how we told stories with tableaus on the first day of class? We want to make sure that we are telling stories with our words, but also with our bodies. Experiment with physical tactics like “to poke” or “to block” and see how this changes your scene.
  2. Send them into breakout rooms again (you can pair them randomly or assign them with a partner). Use the second contentless scene this time. 
  3. Remember to listen and respond because your acting partner is using tactics as well and that will influence your tactics. If you need to, adjust what your tactics are. Practice a couple times through, then revise your tactics and try again.
  4.  Come back!
    1. What did you discover as you utilized different tactics?
    2. How did reacting to your partner’s tactics impact your acting? What did you learn from that?


PERFORMANCE (20 minutes)

  1. Invite students who would like to perform their scene for the class to do so. We have time for about 5 pairs of students.
  2. When we are responding to our peer’s work, we want to be supportive and encouraging, but we also want to think critically. Our peers will perform and then you can respond in one of the following three ways:
    1. “I observed…” which is just statements of fact, not liked or disliked. “I observed that they used their bodies.” “I observed that we had to work together.” etc. 
    2. “I liked…” which is just something they did that you liked! “I liked that so-and-so decided to be a grandma because that worked really well with the lines in the script!”
    3. “I wonder…” which could be a question or a thought that you had. For example, “I wonder how the script would have changed if the script was about friends instead of enemies.”
  3. As we watch our peers, let’s make sure to mute our microphones and to stay attentive. We want to be a respectful audience.
  4. Students can perform (about 2 minutes) and then have about 2 minutes of response for each pair. 
    1. Invite a pair to perform.
    2. Invite responses, remind students to raise their hands physically in the video so that you can see them or with the “raise hand” icon to respond with “I observed,” “I liked,” or “I wonder.”