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Silent Film Acting Movement Unit

Lesson 4: Movement, Blocking & Tableau

Educational Objective:

Students will demonstrate their knowledge of stage pictures/tableaus by participating in tableau activities and discussions afterward.

Materials Needed:

- Silent Film Project Outline
- Pictures for Tableaux - Tableaux Pictures


Have students get into small groups (5-6). Hand each group one of the pictures. Instruct stu-dents that they are to re-create that picture, using the members of their group, to the best of their ability. Give each group a few minutes to establish their pictures then have each group go up and demonstrate their tableau for the class. Have the class try to guess what is going on in the picture.


How could you tell what was going on? What made it easy? What made it difficult?


Now tell students to take the exact same picture, and instead of being quite so lit-eral with the recreation, I would like you to think best how you could convey this same idea, but on a stage. Give them a few minutes to reconfigure. This time, have the audience close their eyes until the image is ready. As they look at the frozen image, ask them what makes it good? What can we change to make it more clear what is happening? What can we change to make the image more visually interesting?


Inform students that they have successfully created what is called a TABLEAU. A tableau is a graphic description or representation (a picture). Directors use tableaus all of the time. You may also hear these referred to as “Stage Pictures”. Because we have so much to say and so little time to say it in we use tableaus to help get the message across. Just like stage directors, film directors use tableaus to help them tell their stories as well. Ask them if they can think of any examples of tableaus or stage pictures that they have seen before.
“What have you learned from this activity that you can apply to your project?”


Hand out the Silent Film Project Outline. Go over the outline with students; give due dates and answer any questions students may have. Explain the different roles involved in this project and that everyone in their groups need to have one.
Have students choose their groups.
Instruct students to present their pitches for the silent film. Have the groups choose one of the ideas as the film they are ultimately going to make. Have the groups decide who is going to fulfill which roles for the creation of the film.


Students will be assessed on their participation and on the pitches they turn in.
Pictures for the tableau: (much larger and on individual papers)