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Listening and Reacting


Students will demonstrate an understanding of listening, communication and response by reacting genuinely in an improv scene.


Materials Needed

Clip from While You Were Sleeping of their dinner time

Basket or hat with slips of paper that have different reactions written on them (i.e. happy, excited, solemn, frustrated, sad, thrilled, mad, depressed, cheerful, content, etc.)


Lesson Directions

Show the clip from While You Were Sleeping


Step 1:

Discuss the communication patterns and reactions that were observed. Why is it important that we listen to each other in theatre (even if we know the lines)? What is the difference between listening for a cue and listening on stage?

  • When we truly listen we react!!!

Step 2:

Tell the class that you will give them a situation and they are supposed to react to that situation with their facial expressions, body movements, etc.


  • dog just died
  • watching a scary movie
  • see that cute boy/girl that they like
  • just got an A on a test

(Give each student that wants to perform in front of the class a turn. This can also be done with a couple of people in front of the class at once.)

Step 3:

Discuss what was good. What is important about the way that we react in theater and not just say lines to each other? Why do we react with our faces and bodies?

Step 4:

Have the students draw an emotion from the basket/hat. Then allow them to practice reacting to one another in an improv scene by using only the specified emotion. Discuss why some worked and why others didn’t.

How can you have honest reactions in a scripted performance when you know what lines come next?  What can you DO to keep sincere communication and reactions?

Step 5:

Have students apply this idea of communicating and reacting genuinely to a performance piece.