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Shakespeare Scenes

3: Communication


Drama 3


75 minutes


Students will be able to demonstrate their ability to authentically communicate in their Shakespeare Scenes by applying several acting exercises to their Shakespeare scene.


• TH:Cr3.1.I
c. Explore physical, vocal and physiological choices to develop a performance that is believable, authentic, and relevant to a drama/theatre work.
• TH:Pr4.1.I
b. Examine how character relationships assist in telling the story of a drama/theatre work.
• TH:Pr6.1.I
b. Perform a scripted drama/theatre work for a specific audience.


• An open space for play and showing of scenes.


• Ensure that an open space is ready and prepared for the activities.



After attendance, have the student follow you into the prepared open space. Explain that they should get with their scene partner. Explain that individuals in scenes with three or more should find an odd person from another scene and pair up. If there is anyone left out of the group, have them sit out and watch. They will be switched in at some point during the exercise. Then have the students sit on the floor directly across from their partner. They should be close enough to touch. Then explain that they should now look into their partner’s eyes, and not look away.

Step 1—Instruction

Explain that they should maintain eye contact, even as you speak. Also explain that this is a silent activity. Allow them to giggle, joke, and do what they must to get over the awkwardness. You can address it head on and explain that it might feel a little silly. As they settle down, remind them that this activity should be happening in silence. Before continuing, have the students decide silently in their group, which partner is partner A and which partner is partner B.

Coach them through the following steps:

1. Continue to silently make eye contact. This is not a staring contest, but merely a connection between two people. (1-2 minutes)
2. Continue to look into the face of your partners, but now start observing their face. Let your eyes pass over and around their face. (1 minute)
3. Continue to observe, and silently listen to the next set of instructions. Do not begin until I tell you to. (1-2 minutes)
a. You will now start making neutral observation about what you see. A neutral observation is something like, “You have eyes. Your eyebrows are blond. Your lips are pink.” You aren’t making any judgments or adding any opinion, just stating something neutral that you see.
b. Partner A will be the first to make an observation. After the observation, the other partner will restate the observation about themselves. For example, if I were partner B, and someone just said to me, “You have a nose.” I would say, “I have a nose.”
c. After Partner B repeats, Partner A will make the observation again, then Partner B will restate it again. So it will go back and forth. It will sound like this, “You have a nose. I have a nose. You have a nose. I have a nose. You have nose. I have a nose.” Continue repeating it until Partner B makes a new observation.
d. As you go back and forth observing and repeating, really listen to what your partner says. Hear and see how they make their observation and really try to communicate the same way back.

Step 2—Guided Practice

Allow students to work through the steps mentioned previously. As they make observations and repeat, wander the room listening and offering side coaching. Ensure that students are only making neutral observation, and that the pattern is being followed. Allow them to make observations for several minutes, and then go onto the next set of instructions.

Step 3—Instruction

Bring their attention back to you and explain the next set of instructions. Explain they can now silently break contact with their partner and turn their attentions to you. Explain that now they should find a section of their scene dialog to recite. Explain that they should return to their mirroring and start to communicate their lines. Explain that the purpose here isn’t to act well, but it is to communicate with your partner. If for some reason you run out of things to say, start over and say the lines again.

Step 4—Guided Practice

Allow students to recite their lines. Float around the room offering side coaching. Make sure that students are not hiding behind the words, but that they are really communicating them to their partner. Have them say lines again if you feel they are not saying them through and for their partner.

Step 5—Transition

Instruct the class to come to stop. They can now break focus and turn their attention back to you. Have them give themselves a round of applause for trying something new and different and for communicating well.

Step 6—Discussion

Conduct a short discussion using the following questions:
• What was this experience like?
• Was this uncomfortable for you? Why?
• How can an activity like this help improve your scenes?
• How has the communication with your partner changed as your maintained eye contact?

Allow students to raise their hands and answer the questions for several minutes. The purpose of the discussion is to debrief them after a new and strange experience. It is to get their minds focused on the important of communication and connection between partners.

Step 7—Modeling

After the discussion, explain that we are going to try something else to help improve our communication. Choose a partnership to be your model. Put them in a position in the space where everyone can see them. Go through the following steps:
1. Have the students begin their scene. Let several lines of dialogue go by. Then, stop them.
2. Explain that they will do the scene again, only this time, their partner will respond by saying “what?” They will do this until they feel that their partner has really communicated their line. Model an example by having the first student with a line direct the line to you. Respond with, “what?” until you feel they have adequately communicated their line to you.
3. Explain that once the other partner goes on with the scene, the first partner will also respond with, “what?” until they feel their partner has communicated their line.
4. Have the students do it again.
5. After several lines, stop them and point out where communication is improving.
6. Ask the students if they feel a difference. Ask the class if they noticed a change in their communication.

Then explain that we are going to go on with the scene with a slightly different exercise. Follow the next steps with the students.

1. Continue on with the scene. Let several lines of dialogue go by. Then stop them.
2. Explain that they will do it again, but instead of saying “what,” they will repeat their partners line, or just the last part of it if it’s too long. They will continue to go back and forth until the partner feels the line has been effectively communicated to them. Model an example for the students.
3. Explain that this exercise is almost identical to the “what” exercise, only they will be repeating the last line.
4. Have the students do it again, this time repeating the lines to one another.
5. After several lines, stop them and point out where communication is improving.
6. Ask the students if they feel a difference. Ask the class if they noticed a change in their communication.

After these two exercises, ask the class for a round of applause for our brave volunteers. Then continue to the next step.

Step 8—Group Practice

Explain to students that they will now separate into their scenes for twenty minutes to work their scenes, working on communication. They should use both the “what” exercise and the “repetition” exercise as they work.

As they work, move through the class watching, and offering coaching. Ensure that students are not merely going through the motions, but they are really considering if their partner has communicated to them.

Step 9—Coaching

After students have worked scenes individually, bring the group together and explain that now, groups that feel that they are ready and willing to show their scene will now perform their scene. Ask for volunteers OR choose a scene that you feel is ready or needs some more hands-on attention.

Have the students perform the scene in its entirety once. Then coach the scene, especially looking for the communication between the partners. While the intention is to improve their communication, these coaching portion of the lesson is an opportunity to give some thorough work on a scene.

Repeat this step with two or three more groups—whatever time permits.


The assessment for today is informal. As the students practice in their own scenes, float around the room, listening and watching for implementation of the communication exercises discussed in the lesson. This is worth 20 points.