Building a Relationship
by Giselle Gremmert
Students will understand how to create relationships with scene partners by creating physical visual images with their scene partners and completing a relationship plot.
(could be used in any scene or ensemble group acting unit)
Hook: (15 minutes)
Bomb/Shield: Have students put their chairs away and stand in a large circle. Tell students we are going to play a game—it’s called bomb and shield. Students need to pick another student in the room to be their bomb BUT DON’T SAY OR POINT TO WHO THEY ARE; their goal is to stay away from their bomb. When time runs out, the only way they can not explode is if their shield is in between them and their bomb. Students now need to pick their shield. When I say go, students can run around the room (don’t go in the little theatre or to the other side of the room). When time runs out, if your bomb is closer to you than your shield, you have to die a terrible death.
How difficult is it to keep your shield in between you and your bomb?
Would it be any easier if you could talk to them?
How many characters in your scenes are trying to figure out the relationship they have to their scene partners?
How can you show us that physically?
How can you show us that relationship with subtext?
Play the game two or three times. Pay special attention if anyone says “we were each other’s bombs”, “we were each other’s shields”, or “I was their bomb and they were my shield”. Those always prompt the best discussion.
BIG QUESTION: What if this game were called objectives and relationships instead of bomb and shield?
Practice: (30 minutes)
Tableaux: Have students find their groups and stand by them. Explain to students that a tableaux is a frozen image. We are going to create frozen images for our characters. If I was portraying Cinderella, my frozen image might include me down on the floor scrubbing or losing my shoe at the ball. Think about your character and how you can portray them physically and larger than life, without being stereotypical. Just because your character might sit in a chair because they’re old the entire scene, how can you show us their inner emotions in a physical way?
Give the students a moment to think about their character (remember these are individual images), then count back from 3, 2, 1, Freeze. Tell students they are now going to create a second image. 3, 2, 1, Freeze. Now students are going to create a third image. 3, 2, 1, Freeze.
Have students turn in and face their groups. They are going to show their groups their tableauxs. Tell students they are going to freeze in their first image, then they can move their heads a little bit to see the other people in their groups. 3, 2, 1, Freeze. Look around. Now we’re going to freeze in our second image. 3, 2, 1 Freeze. Look around. Switch to your third image in 3, 2, 1, Freeze.
Did you learn anything about the other characters in your scene by their images?
How can you incorporate that knew knowledge into one of your tableauxs?
Now we are going to make tableauxs as groups. So, remembering your tableauxs you just created and your partner’s tableauxs, create a tableaux that symbolized your relationship at the beginning of the scene. You have 20 seconds to silently move your bodies into a position that reflects that. 3, 2, 1, Freeze. Now take another 15 seconds and create an image that represents the middle of your scene. 3, 2, 1, Freeze. Make an image that represents how you end the scene. 3,2, 1, Freeze.
What did you learn about the arc of your scene according to the relationship of your characters?
How can you use any of these tableauxs in your scenes?
Instruction: (15 minutes)
We are now going to make a Relationship Plot. Your character goes in the top left box, and the other boxes are filled in accordingly. (The emotional relationship box should have the most information in it). Examples are listed in parentheses.
Scene Partner #1
(--I am her protector –constant trust in each other –loyal –motherly)
(always pulls pony tail when she walks in the room—sign of endearment)
Scene Partner #2
(--distant, --constantly butting heads, --need her approval, --won’t show true feelings to eachother)
(never hug her because she never hugs me)
Have students draw a small example box on their papers to remind them of what goes in each box. When they eventually do this for real, they will need to turn their paper sideways and use the entire sheet of paper to fill up with information or they didn’t write enough.
Practice: (25 minutes)
For the remaining 25 minutes of class, students have two objectives.
- Complete the Relationship Plot. It is due at the end of class.
- Get a basic idea of blocking for the scene. Students should be up and moving around. Write in your blocking on the side of your script. Don’t throw everything out the window we worked on today in terms of creating a physical relationship! If theatre were just about the words, we would play it on the radio. Show us your relationship by how you interact with each other on the stage.
Student turn in their relationship plot and practice the newly acquired information with their scene partners.