Second Circle

by Michael Avila

Unit: Second Circle


Author: Michael Avila


Objective: Students will demonstrate their understanding of The Second Circle, created by Patsy Rodenburg, and the importance of presence in performance by applying presence to diverse situations and performing a Shakespearean Sonnet in Second Circle.


Learning level: Intermediate (Secondary Education)


Student Prior Experience: Students have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of theatre including body, voice, risk-taking, and performance experience.


National Standards

  • TH:Cr3.1.II.b. Use research and script analysis to revise physical, vocal, and physiological choices impacting the believability and relevance of a drama/ theatre work. 
  • TH:Pr5.1.II.a. Refine a range of acting skills to build a believable and sustainable drama/theatre performance. 
  • TH: Re7.1.II.a. Demonstrate an understanding of multiple interpretations of artistic criteria and how each might be used to influence future artistic choices of a drama/theatre work. 
  • TH:Re8.1.II.a. Develop detailed supporting evidence and criteria to reinforce artistic choices, when participating in or observing a drama/theatre work. 
  • TH:Re8.1.II.c. Debate and distinguish multiple aesthetics, preferences, and beliefs through participation in and observation of drama/theatre work.
  • TH:Cn11.1.II.a. Integrate conventions and knowledge from different art forms and other disciplines to develop a cross-cultural drama/theatre work.


State Standards

  • Standard L2.T.CR.5: Explore physical, vocal, and emotional choices to develop a performance that is believable, authentic, and relevant in a drama/ theatre work.
  • Standard L2.T.P.5: Use voice to communicate meaning through volume, pitch, tone, rate of speed, and vocal clarity.
  • Standard L2.T.R.4: Demonstrate the ability to receive and act upon coaching, feedback, and constructive criticism.
  • Standard L2.T.R.5: Analyze and assess a drama/theatre work by connecting it to art forms, history, culture, and other disciplines using supporting evidence and criteria.
  • Standard L2.T.R.7: Analyze why artistic choices are made in a drama/theatre work.
  • Standard L2.T.CO.3: Examine contemporary social, cultural, or global issues through different forms of drama/theatre work.


Enduring Understandings

  • Strong actors know how to use presence
  • Each circle of energy is necessary
  • Speaking in Second Circle helps the audience understand the text
  • We must train our voice as performers


Essential Questions

  • What are the three circles of energy?
  • Why is each circle of energy important?
  • Who is Patsy Rodenburg?
  • How is second circle used in theatre?
  • How does presence enhance performances?


Authentic Performance Tasks

  • Stand/speak/move in each circle
  • Shakespearean Sonnet performance
  • Circles of energy Written Assessment


Unit Lessons:


Lesson 1: Pre-Assessment and Sonnet Work

Objective: Students will prepare for the Second Circle unit by working on a Shakespearean Sonnet and completing a written pre-assessment


Lesson 2: Performance Pre-Assessment and Patsy Rodenburg

Objective: Students will demonstrate their understanding of Patsy Rodenburg and her pedagogy by verbally explaining to a partner what the three circles of energy are.


Lesson 3: Practicing Presence

Objective:  Students will demonstrate their understanding of presence by writing reflections on various presence exercises


Lesson 4: The Circles of Energy

Objective:  Students will demonstrate their understanding of the three circles of energy by writing a self-assessment/reflection after participating in body exercises that practice the three circles of energy.


Lesson 5: Natural Breath

Objective:  Students will demonstrate their ability and understanding of breathing naturally by performing natural breaths and reflecting on Second Circle breathing exercises.


Lesson 6: Second Circle Voice

Objective:  Students will demonstrate their ability to speak in Second Circle and analyze their own and others’ ability by performing a sonnet for a partner and writing a self-assessment.


Lesson 7: Practicing Presence in Performance

Objective: Students will demonstrate their understanding of being present in performance by analyzing presence in others’ performances and preparing a performance with presence.


Lesson 8: Second Circle Final Assessment

Objective: Students will demonstrate their understanding and ability to be with someone, stand, breathe, and perform in Second Circle by completing a Sonnet performance, physical assessment, and written assessment.