Choosing and Cutting a Script

Educational Objective:

Students will demonstrate their understanding of the process of selecting and cutting (if necessary) a monologue. Students will also read-through and time their scene to make sure it is under the 1 minute time limit.

Materials Needed:

• Monologues from various plays. Male/Female, comedy/drama, etc. This can be pulled from your collection, but if not, you will need to put together a few options for your students. You will want to give your students as much variation as you can offer. These monologues should be ideally selected to be 30 sec-1 min long, but there may be some selections that your students will need to cut to get them down to around 1 minute.
• Four monologues to demonstrate good selection and bad selection. These should be pulled from plays from your collection, or you will need to find scenes that fit your needs. Two should be have one “feeling” or emotion the whole monologue, possibly have an odd character, or a character that wouldn’t work for middle school students, and have little room for objectives and tactics (more story based rather than objectives and tactics based). One of the “bad” scenes should also be extensively long and somewhat repetitive.

Lesson 1.Monos

• Choosing a Good Monologue Worksheet  Lesson 1.Choosing a Good Mono
• Projector and Computer
Facets of Understanding:
• Explanation
• Interpretation
• Application
Enduring Understandings:
• Theatre reflects real life stories and experiences
• Theatre teaches critical thinking and analysis of stories
Essential Questions:
• How does showcasing your individual talents affect the choosing of a monologue?
• What are the practicalities of choosing a monologue?


Hook: (10 minutes)

Have four monologues taped to the bottom of student’s chairs. The monologues should be no more than half a page long. Ask students to look under their chairs; the students who have monologues taped to the bottom of their chairs will be reading the monologues out loud to the class. (You may have students read these from their seats, or they may stand at the front of the classroom). It might also be helpful to project the monologues up on the screen as they are being read so the entire class can follow along.


Step 1 – Discussion: (15 minutes)

Pass out the “Choosing a Good Monologue” Worksheet. Have students look over it and make notes as you talk. Once all four monologues have been read, ask students which monologues were the most intriguing? Why? What elements did they have that made them better than the others? If they were to choose a piece to perform themselves, which would they choose, and why? Write the elements of the “good” monologues on the board. Guide student’s thinking towards these basic elements:
• Scene is not “storytelling”, it has tactics and objectives
• The monologue is from an actual published play or musical
• The characters are playable
• Length
Once the “good” elements are up on the board, ask students why these elements are important? How can they benefit an actor? Ask students specifically about the length requirement – what do you do, as an actor, if the scene you’ve chosen is too long? The answer is obviously to cut it, but how do you do that?


Step 2 – Instruction: (7 minutes)

Tell students that you will be handing out a monologue and would like a volunteer to read the monologue for the class while everyone else follows along.
After you read through the script together ask the students if they were able to follow the story? What was the story? Decide as a class, and write this on the board as well. Ask students to pair up. Once in their partnerships, instruct them that they are to go through the monologue together and take out any lines that they feel could be marked out of the script and still convey the same story (that was decided on together as a class and is now written on the board). Only allow 2-3 minutes for students to cut their scripts.


Step 3 – Sharing: (5 minutes)

After they cut the scene ask for students to raise their hands for people who feel they have cut 50% of the lines, continue asking for who cut 60%?, 70 %?, 80%?, 90%? Whichever pair still has their hands raised at 90%, ask them if they would be willing to read their script out loud. Once they have done so, ask if another pair thinks they have cut more. If there is another pair that has a shorter scene, ask them to read it. Keep going until the shortest scene is found that is still true to the story (that was agreed upon as a class)


Step 4 – Discussion and Practice: (10 minutes)

After you have found the shortest monologue, ask students how the shortest version is different from when it was first read through? Once students have discussed this for a while, ask the student who has the shortest script to come up and act out their cutting. After letting them perform it once, have them perform it a second time with you directing them in the scene. Help students realize that action can convey the same meaning, often with more power.


Step 5 – Discussion: (3 minutes)

Which version was more compelling? Why? What elements did the second version have that the first version did not? Can these things be incorporated to every monologue?
How? Discuss the importance of length. The importance of making sure a scene doesn’t get too “wordy” and the importance of movement and action.


Step 5 – Instruction: (20 minutes)

As you finish up the discussion, instruct students we are going to begin working on our final for the unit and explain that you have set out scripts and that they need to read through the scripts and choose one that they are going to perform for the final. Remind students to keep the important elements of a scene in mind: objectives and tactics, playable characters, and length. Tell students that they can cut scenes to make it better fit their needs.
Tell students that as they are selecting their scene, they need to answer the questions on their “Choosing a Good Monologue” Worksheet. If they answer “no” to any of the questions on the worksheet, they need to find a new one.
Once they have found a monologue, they need to read through it and time it. If it is over one minute, they need to start cutting. Let students know that they need to give you a running time before leaving the classroom. Tell students that they are welcome to raise their hands if they need help cutting or selecting a scene.


Final Assessment for Lesson 1: (6 Daily Participation Points – informal door check)

Students are to report a running scene time to you as they leave the classroom. You should have a list of names and the piece they will be performing. Write these times down next to student’s names as they leave the room. If they haven’t been able to cut their scene yet, tell students that they will need to have it cut down to the appropriate time length by the end of next class period, or points for the day will be lost.
Students will also be turning in the “Choosing a Good Monologue” Worksheet for fifteen points.