Blocking: Creating Focus through Stage Pictures


Students will demonstrate an ability to create focus and interesting stage pictures by generating four tableaus that represent the emotion and story of their poem.



Materials Needed

Two different film versions of Hamlet



Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook
Show students a film clip (The scene between Ophelia and Hamlet) from two different versions of Hamlet back to back (the same scene).




Step 1: (Discussion): Ask the students to compare the versions of the same scene. What was different about these scenes? How were the colors different? The acting styles/moods? The style of the show? How is it possible to have such widely different interpretations from one text with the exact same wording? This is what makes a director so important. If a play was interpreted the same way over and over again what would be the point? A directors’ job is to create an interpretation.


Step 2 (Transition): One of the largest decisions you make as a director after a concept is how you will physically stage the show… the blocking!!! The audience sees the actors before it hears them, we are more interested in what is visually going on. The movement should really tell the story and communicate your concept.


Step 3 (Guided Practice): How will you tell your story with stage pictures? Each image onstage communicates to the audience as loudly if not more loudly than the words.
Let’s Practice with stage pictures. Have students get into groups of three and stand in different locations around the room, in view of everyone else. Assign each group a topic to portray: Injustice, Celebration at the birth of a child, Loneliness, Friendship, Leadership, etc… Tell students that they are to communicate these ideas through a frozen picture or tableau. Give students 3-5 minutes to discuss their topic and create a frozen picture. When they are done each group will show their pose for the class.


Step 4 (Discussion): Ask students specific questions about the tableaus. What emotion are they portraying? Who is the central character? Who is in control, who is powerless? Where is the focus? What story might be behind this picture? Have students return to their desks once they have finished showing the class their tableaus so that they do not distract from other groups.


Step 5: Gather the class back together and notice the reoccurring themes from the Tableaus. The most important thing in blocking is that your actors are visible. Once all of your actors can be seen, You as a director must decide where you want the audience to look. You do not have a camera lens to do it for you. You need to deliberately create focus
What creates Focus on stage or draws our attention (demonstrate these with students acting as models on the stage):
1. A character who is isolated
2. A character who is down stage or at a lower level (The audience focuses on what is closer to them or on a lower level) (not a hard fast rule).
3. Characters who have more light on them, colorful costumes,
4. A character who is facing the audience
5. A character who is being pointed at
6. A character who is moving, or moving in a different pattern from the other characters.
7. Characters who have stronger objectives
8. A character who upstages (BAD).= Ask the students to explain upstaging to you. If they cannot have students come up as volunteers and give them scenarios to act out which demonstrate the concepts.


Step 6 (Instruction/Group Practice): Inform students that they will be making up a presentation for the class with their stories and directing concepts. They are to take the story and characters they created to:
1. Create a frozen picture that represents the overall essence/ mood/emotion of your piece
2. 3 Tableaus that capture the Beginning, Middle and End of the story, incorporating color.
3. Use of color, Bring costumes or wear the colors you chose for your concept- choose a color that represents your character, or use color to create focus.

**Remind students to use the principles discussed in class: How do you create focus in your stage picture? What do you want your stage picture to communicate to the audience?




Students will begin to perform these presentations at the beginning of the next class.