Crying on Stage Part 1


Students will demonstrate their ability to cry in a scene by performing crying techniques in pairs.



Texts: Their bodies as text






Have the students warm up by moving through the space. Play music that evokes sobriety or sadness. Have their movement reflect and be informed by the music. How is this movement different? Move how the music makes you feel.


STEP 1: Transition

How is this music affecting how you move? What are you doing differently that you don’t normally do when we warm up? What do you feel when you listen to this music? Music is one way we can access our emotions. It is a tool. Today we are going to teach you several tools to use in order to cry realistically on stage.


STEP 2: Instruction

In real life, why do you cry? What reasons cause you to cry (possible: anger, devastation, frustration, happiness, exhaustion/stress, etc). What things do you physically feel in your body? (heavy breathing, shaking, closed eyes, closed body shape, tension) Let’s practice re-creating these things.
• Breathing: start by taking slow deep breaths. Now make your breath shorter and faster. Breathe with your stomach and not with your chest. Make them more and more emotional. Try doing a little yawn as you breath shallowly. This can help tears to come and help with the believability of your voice. Try sniffling and snorting.
• Tension: tense the muscles in your body bit-by-bit. Toes > feet > legs > thighs > bum > back > abs > chest > shoulders > arms > hands > fingers > neck > face. Now build all of those together and make the tension in your body. When you cry does tension go through your whole body or just parts? Try tensing the different parts of your body in a different order?
• Closed body shape: make a body shape that makes you feel closed. How tense and sad can you make it? How many different ways can you make tense, closed shapes?
Now let’s try and combine each of these things together. Start with breathing. Then add muscle tension in your body. Now create a closed, sad body shape. Try adding on other layers like sobbing, sniffling, shaking or try and get tears out.


STEP 3: Transition

Do you feel like you are approximating crying? Does this look like or feel like you are actually crying? What makes for believable crying? What makes it unbelievable? Now let’s try adding a line.


STEP 4: Instruction/Guided Practice/Assessment

Repeat the following line from Medea (“O wretched woman/man that I am). Now say they line with exaggerated sadness in your voice. How do you sound when you are sad? Turn to a partner. Add the 3 technical steps that we’ve learned and say your line to your partner. Then switch. Give your partner feedback. Are they being believable? How can they improve?
• TEACHING NOTE: Watch and find students doing an exceptional job. Point them out and ask them if they are willing to perform for the class as an example.



Ask for three student volunteers to each lead a short activity tomorrow (one will do a breathing activity, one will do a tension activity, and one will do a shape activity—all related to crying). Explain to them that they would just have to do a simple activity like the ones we did today as a review of what we learned today. If there is time, have the class get into three groups (each with one of the volunteers) and have the group help the volunteer come up with an activity to practice their assigned element.