Stage Directions & Blocking
Students will demonstrate their knowledge of stage directions and other basics by blocking a portion of their duo scene.
- Nametag stickers with either the letter U, D, L, R, or C on them
- Overhead projector
- Overhead transparency of a short scene
- Dry-erase marker for transparency
- Extra pencils for students
Give each student a nametag 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 a volunteer with the letter ‘C’ on their nametag to go up on stage where they think “center stage” would be. Ask for a volunteer with the letter ‘R’ on their nametag to go up on stage where they think “stage right” would be. 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 raked at a slanted angle. Next 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 have the students write in all the stage directions on the paper.
Step 3: 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 4: Modeling—Put a short scene from The Nerd up on an overhead projector. Have student volunteers come up on the “stage” to be directed in the scene. Only direct their blocking. Teach the students that they can follow stage directions as written in a script, they can come up with their own, or they can do a combination of both. As you direct their blocking, pause to write down the blocking on the transparency. Before writing it down, ask the students where to write the blocking down in the scene and what abbreviations to use. Continue directing and blocking the scene and writing the blocking down as described above. Instruction—Teach the students the term, “blocking,” and why it is called that.
Step 5: Transition—Ask a student to come up on stage with you. Have them stand with their back to the audience and read a line from the scene. Discussion—Ask the other students what they thought about watching an actor perform with his back to them. Teach the students basic principles of “cheating out” to the audience, as well as not upstaging another actor unless you need to.
Step 6: Guided Practice—As students observe, the teacher will help one partnership at a time to block the first half of their scene.
Step 7: Independent Practice—When all scenes have had their first halves blocked, the partnerships will on their own block the second halves of their scenes.
Step 8: Guided Practice—Students will present for the class the second halves of their scenes.
Students can be assessed through participation in blocking activity, and the written blocking in their script.
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