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Silent Film Acting Movement Unit

Lesson 7: Ensemble

Educational Objective:

Students will demonstrate their ability to work as an ensemble by participating in various ensemble activities.


Lead the students to the auditorium. Have them use the open space of the empty stage for some exercises.
- Have them move around the space in different ways: walk, jog, slow motion, crouch, jump, light, heavy, high, low, etc.
- Have them line up, without any talking, in order of height. Then have them line up from oldest to youngest. Tell them they have to work together as a team, communicating nonverbally.
- Have the students walk in a circle in soft focus. Introduce Stop — everyone has to stop at the same time, as a team, thinking with one mind. Once they have done this a few times, introduce Jump — they stop and then jump, landing at the same time. Do this a few time, at least until they are able to do it once.
- Have students play the counting game. They sit in a circle, and without talking they must count to twenty as a group. Only one person can say a number, no patterns, and no one can say a number twice. If any of the rules are broken then they must start again at the beginning.
- Finally, while walking around the space in soft focushave the group collectively, without talking, select a leader and follow him/her then change when they feel like it, also without talking. Eve-ryone needs to be doing what the leader is going.


Move back into the classroom, have students sit in a circle, and conduct a discussion on the games that the students just participated in.


Ask the students the following questions: What did you get out of those exercises? What good are they for? What was difficult? What was easy? Why is it important to work together? Did you feel a connection to the group? How did that help? Did you feel as one?

Introduce the term “Ensemble” to the students. Ask if anyone knows what that means (it can mean different things in different contexts, but for this you are looking for a specific definition). An ensemble is when multiple actors have about the same amount of lines, stage time, and im-portance in a show. You see this a lot on TV (The Office, Law & Order, 30 Rock, Modern Fami-ly, Pretty Little Liars)

What about in movies? (Ask for examples of what they think is an ensemble cast).
An ensemble is a group and for an ensemble to work everyone in that group must be giving his/her all in the performance. Rather than try to stand out and be the most important member of the group, a good ensemble actor works to make the whole group look good.

How might this apply to your films?


Play Yes, Let’s! - Students walk around the room in soft focus. When the teacher calls one of the students’ names, that student suggests an action to the group (ex: Let’s do five jumping jacks) and then everyone else says “Yes, Let’s!” and then they do the suggested activity. Once they have all done it they continue walking and the teacher calls the next person’s name. Once they have seen how this works a few times, ask the student who just chose call the next person. Allow this to go on for awhile until everyone has had a chance to make a suggestion.


After this activity, conduct a discussion with the students asking the following questions: What did that game teach you about theatre? How might it apply to your film.
(Hoping for discussion topics centered around how everyone’s ideas are valid and how everyone should be able to contribute to the film.)

**Make sure students turn in their assignments from last class.


Students will be assessed on their participation in the exercises and discussions.