Basic Acting Method

Educational Objective:

Students will demonstrate their ability to apply basic acting technique to their monologues by performing in front of a peer, and then writing a paragraph about their experience


Materials needed:

• Projector and Computer
• YouTube clip of Coffee Cup exercise


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 students write down on a piece of paper what they think about when they perform. This can be any sort of performance (dance, vocal, theater, in class performance, etc.) Let students know that it should be on a piece of paper that they can throw away. You can take roll while this is being done. Once students have finished writing, have students crumple up the piece of paper and throw it at each other (like a snowball fight).


Step 1 – Discussion: (15 minutes)

Have students pick up a thrown piece of paper, but it cannot be their own. Have students read what is on the paper they picked up. Some of the answers might be “in character thoughts” or some might be “don’t forget my line, what’s my next line?!” or a variation of responses.
Talk to students about character thought. As they are portraying a character, they should only ever have two things in their head: Character thought (thinking AS the character, not waiting for their next line or planning how they’ll deliver a certain line, etc.) which should be 70% of what is going on in their head, and the other 30% should be the practicalities of acting (make sure you’re in the light, projection, diction, etc.). Check for understanding and ask students if they have any questions.


Step 2 – Lecture: (2 minutes)

Tell students that you are going to go over BASIC acting technique today, and that for simplicities sake, there are two main umbrellas that most acting technique falls under: outward-in and inward-out. Tell students that you will be exploring both of those today in a very broad way.


Step 3 – Practice: (15 minutes)

Ask students to walk around the room, slowly get into character physically. Have students pay special attention to their shoulders, how heavy their footfall is, where they are carrying tension in their body, if their character holds tension in their body, etc. Tell students to now start BREATHING and MOVING as if they were angry. Continue to move around the room as if they were angry. Let students do this for a while, and once they are actually emotionally angry, to start monologuing as their character about something their character is angry about. Walk students through getting out of their anger phase (stopping student’s monologuing, having them move around the room in neutral). Do this same thing with fear and also with happiness.


Step 4 – Discussion: (7 minutes)

Have students get in a circle and discuss that experience. Does working outside-in work for them? Or does it not? Why?


Step 5 – Practice: (15 minutes)

Show students the coffee cup clip. Tell students that this is an example of working inside-out. Sense memory is a technique that actors use on stage to recreate the feeling of whatever they are doing. Have students perform the coffee cup activity with another item they have in their backpack. It can be water or makeup or food or a shoe – really anything. Some things might not have the taste sense associated it, but you can try.


Step 6 – Discussion: (7 minutes)

Have students get in a circle and discuss that experience. Does working inside-out work for them? Or does it not? Why?



Final Assessment for Lesson 4: (15 points – formal paper)

Have students get into pairs to work on their monologues. Tell students that they are to perform their monologue four times for their partner. Twice working with the outside-in technique, and twice working inside-out.
Once they have completed this task, ask students to write a response to the following questions. The response is due at the end of class:
1. Do you prefer working outside-in or inside-out? WHY
2. Tell me about three discoveries you made today. This can be about your character, the way you work as an actor/actress, or just about your monologue in general. Give complete answers with complete sentences.
Before students leave, let them know that it would benefit them to be memorized by the 6th lesson day (whichever day this lands on, let them know, i.e. Monday, Tuesday)