Viewpoints of Space—Topography and Architecture


Students will demonstrate their understanding of Topography and Architecture by participating movement-based activities to express mood and theme.


They will also demonstrate an understanding of the impact of music on a performance by participating selecting options for the song they will use in final performances.



  • TH:Cn10.1.I.a. Investigate how cultural perspectives, community ideas and personal beliefs impact a drama/theatre work.
  • TH:Re8.1.I.c. Justify personal aesthetics, preferences, and beliefs through participation in and observation of a drama/theatre work.
  • TH:Pr5.1.I.a. Practice various acting techniques to expand skills in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.



  •       Computer/internet access
  •       VGA Mac converter for projection
  •       Projector/Projector Screen
  •       Speakers



Prior to Step 1: Introduce that this is a silent activity and if they are talking, they won’t hear the instruction that’s given throughout the activity.


Hook: Watch the first 45 seconds of this clip.



  1. What are some observations you have about their movement as far as you could see?
  2. What did you notice about the path they moved?
    1. This may be too difficult to answer. If so, then go straight into explaining topography.

Transition: We are going to be learning about the last two viewpoints today, and we are starting with topography. Take out your notes if you would like the definition today.


Topography: It is the floor pattern, or landscape we create throughout the space as we move through it. (Write on the board: Topography: landscape, floor pattern)


Step 1: Ask students to stand up and find their own space in the room. Have everyone close their eyes for a moment and breathe for a few moments in complete silence. Have them open their eyes and imagine their feet are dipped in red paint and every step they take and move they make paints a picture on the floor. Ask the students to start “painting” on the floor and to concentrate on making circles and curves as they move around the space. To further prompt them as they move around, you might say the following:

  • Think of movements that are smooth or curved, circular or wavy, and make those shapes with their movement throughout the space.
  • If the audience were above us, would they be able to see those shapes in the floor pattern you are creating with the red paint?
  • Ask students to start thinking about ways this movement and creation of what is called Floor Pattern can affect the movements in the rest of their bodies.
  • Ask the students to now think of sharp and straight lines and begin moving around the space that way. Prompt them in a similar manner to that of the curved and circular movements.
  • Suggest different characters for the students to portray which may require sharp, smooth, or combined shapes.
    • Soldiers, Fairies, ballet dancers, lumberjacks
  • Suggest different emotions that might be portrayed through the floor pattern as well.


Step 2: Have everyone freeze where they are for a minute and comment on their progress understanding the floor pattern aspect of topography. Now, we are going to explore the landscape.


  1. Everyone walk toward the front of the room as though they are moving through a thick weeded jungle swamp. Now the wind is blowing really hard, but keep walking. That’s landscape!
  2. Everyone walk from one end of the room to the other as though you are in the forest following a treasure map. How do you have to move to avoid running into trees? Is the treasure map going to be interesting if it’s a straight line? Your final treasure map is floor pattern!


Step 3: Have students gather in a circle and discuss their experiences. Make sure they understand topography and evaluate their progress through this discussion. Some questions you might ask are:

  • How could the pattern we create on the floor be important in a performance to convey meaning? How can the landscape we create convey meaning in performance? How does this help us make acting choices?
  • What are some of the things you discovered as you experimented with hard lines versus curved?
  • What types of lines and shapes did you find yourself making as you portrayed anger? Love? Fear? Excitement? Freedom? Captivity?


Transition to Architecture


This time they will imagine that their entire bodies are dipped in endless red paint and begin to move around the room. They must consider the floor pattern they leave with their feet (topography) but also the marks they leave behind on the solid objects in the room, on the air around them as they play with light and react to sound, on the textured wall they ran their hands over, etc.

  • Keep moving but when the song plays, move around the room, still imagining that red paint all over your body, to express whatever emotions, feelings, or themes this song expresses for you. Play contrasting song clips. We chose the songs, “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire (20 seconds). Switch the song to, “Comeback Kid” by Sleigh Bells (20 seconds). Switch to “Households” by Sleeping At Last (20 seconds).
  • Have students gather in semicircle near board.
    • What affect did the music have on our movements? As you reacted to the song, was it a reaction to the words and story or the emotions and moods that it created?



Step 1: Have the class gather in a circle. What we just did as we imagined our entire bodies dipped in red paint, has a lot to do with a viewpoint called Architecture. What might architecture as a viewpoint mean?


Explain that in viewpoints the word architecture refers to five different aspects of the design or makeup of our physical surroundings: solid mass (or objects), texture, light, color, and sound (Write these on the board). Invite them to take notes as we discuss what each facet of architecture is so they will be prepared for the final quiz.


Step 2: SOLID MASS. Ask for a volunteer from the class. Have that volunteer interact with a piece of furniture in the room. (twirl with it, tip it over, reach for it, etc.) Have a class discussion using the following questions:

  • How does the interaction of the volunteer in relation to the object(s) convey meaning?
  • Image this volunteer’s whole body was dripping in endless red paint. What would the picture look like that they just painted with that object?
  • What is the mood of the image?
  • What are some possible themes?
  • What kind of story might this image be telling?


Step 3: LIGHT – Ask for a different volunteer from the class. Have them stand directly in or under the light. How does staring up at the light or crouching away from the light change the story, mood, or theme? What are some other ways to interact with the light? (might need to prompt: playing with light with hands, standing in shadows, weaving in and out of lighted spaces in room, etc.)



  • Close your eyes and listen. What are some of the sounds in this room? Air conditioning? Creaky floor board?
  • How might that affect our movement?
  • Ask students what some of the textures and colors in the room are.
  • How can we interact with those textures and colors? If needed for texture, use the example of the floor. It is smooth and flat. How do the bottom of our shoes react to this floor? Can we slide? Does the texture of the floor also affect the sounds in the room as we walk across it?


Step 6: Ask the students to find their own space in the room. Have them start moving around the room focusing on their interaction and relationship to the objects in the room (i.e. the windows, the walls, the floor, the furniture). Prompt them when appropriate to start focusing on interacting or moving in relation to the light. Then the textures, colors, and sounds. Prompt them to think about topography, the floor pattern and landscape as they interact with the architecture.


Step 7: Now play a song. “When I Grow Up” by Fever Ray is a good one. Continue to encourage them to interact with the architecture, exploring sound specifically. Following the mood, emotions, and messages of the song can help inspire their movement.



Step 1: Allow students to get into their groups for the final. Hand out a notecard for each group. Have them write their names on the notecard. Have students get into their final groups. They have already chosen a theme to work with for their final performance. Give them 1-2 minutes to discuss as a group what their setting will be for their performance. Have them write their chosen setting on the card and turn it in.


Step 2: Brief Discussion: What are the benefits of having music in a performance? Inform students that they will using a song in their final performances. But the song must ADD to their chosen theme and not provide a new theme or detract from the theme they have already explored. Have a brief discussion with them about what makes a good song choice for a performance, referring back to the songs used earlier when learning topography. Encourage them to choose songs that express their chosen mood or theme, not just a song that tells a story or has catchy lyrics.


Step 3:  Assign each group to come to class next time with two options for their song choice in mind. If they did not have a chance to come up with options during class they are still expected to discuss with one another and decide as homework outside of class. They will need to be able to justify their song choices and why they think it expresses their mood or theme well. They will also need a way to play the song aloud to share with the teachers and to use as they start to rehearse with their song in class next time.



Students will receive 10 participation points if they are actively engaged during the guided activities, discussion, and also turn in an exit card, 5 points. Proficiency will be 8/10 participation points for activities and discussion, and the exit card will be 5/5 points.


Teacher Note: Make sure to write down any students that may need participation points dropped that day. (Playing on phone after they were asked not to, distracting others from working, etc.)