Stage Directions and Blocking
Students will demonstrate their understanding of stage directions by blocking their duo scene and writing the correct notation of their blocking in their script.
Give each student a name tag sticker with either the letter U, D, L, R, or C on it. Take the students to a performance space. Tell everyone to sit down in the audience and tell them the space in front of them is the stage.
Step 1: Instruction – Ask for someone with the letter C on their name tag. Ask him/her to go where they think “center stage” is. Ask for someone with the letter R on their name tag and have them stand where they think “stage right” is. Tell the students that stage directions are from the reference point of the actor. Guide the students if they make incorrect choices. Ask for an L volunteer to go to “stage left.” Explain that stages used to be racked at a slanted angle. Then ask for a U to go “upstage” and a D to go “downstage.” Ask for a U and an R to go to “upstage right.” Ask for a D and an R to go to “downstage right.” Ask for a U and an L to go “upstage left.” Ask for a D and an L to go “downstage left.” Ask for a U and a C to go “upstage center.” Ask for a D and a C to go “downstage center.” Make sure all students have an opportunity to go to a designated place on the stage even if they are doubling up. Then have all the students sit down.
Step 2: Transition – Hand out a paper with a drawing of a stage on it and key words and have the students write in all the stage directions on the paper.
Checking for Understanding – Ask for 2-4 volunteers and a have a race between the two students calling out positions on the stage and have them “cross” to that place. Conduct the game several times making sure everyone gets an opportunity to play. Go back to the classroom and go over the diagram on the handout as a class. Teach them the proper abbreviations for each term and introduce the symbol when a character “crosses” to a different position, sits down, or stands up:
center stage = C stage right = R stage left = L cross = X
down center = DC down right = DR down left = DL sits down = ↓
up center = UC up right = UR up left = UL stands up = ↑
Step 3: Modeling – Put up an overhead of a page from a script. Tell the class that the actors movement on the stage is called their “blocking.” As a class, create some blocking for the script on the overhead, drawing arrows on the diagram on the board to see where everyone is. Then write in the blocking for each character in the script on the overhead using the correct notation. Talk about why they chose to move the characters when they did. Discuss how dialogue gives us clues about where the actors should be in relation to each other.
Step 4: Guided Practice – Assign partners for a duo scene and hand out scripts. Examples include: The Goodbye Girl by Neil Simon – Act I, Scene 1
Table Manners by Alan Ayckbourn – Act I, Scene 1, p.23-27
The Nerd by Larry Shue – Act II, Scene 1, p. 53-57
Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley – Act II, p. 49-51 The Odd Couple by Neil Simon – Act II, p. 47-51
The Glass Menagerie by – Act I, Scene 5, p. 28-32
Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling – Act I, Scene 2, p. 32-35
Encourage the students to utilize the space on the stage. Give them time to block their scene with their partner. Have them write in their stage directions using proper notation.
Collect scripts and give them points for writing in blocking.
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