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Shakespeare Scenes

4: Vocal Colors


Drama 3


75 minutes


Students will be able to demonstrate vocal varieties in their acting by participating in the vocal viewpoints activity (performing one line, focusing on three vocal viewpoints).


• TH:Cr3.1.I
d. 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
c. Examine how character relationships assist in telling the story of a drama/theatre work.
• TH:Pr4.1.I.b
o Shape character choices using given circumstances in a drama/theatre work
• TH:Pr6.1.I
c. Perform a scripted drama/theatre work for a specific audience.


• Film clips from The Dark Knight, The Lord of the Rings, and Spongebob.
• Vocal Viewpoints Cheat Sheet - Vocal Viewpoints Cheat Sheet


• Ensure that the tech elements are ready and prepared.
• Know what clips will be shown.



Begin the class by playing the audio clips. Do not show the students the images, but instead ensure the audio can be clearly heard. Play the Batman clip first.. Undoubtedly, the students will recognize Christian Bale as Batman. Begin a short discussion, starting with some basic questions, moving to more broad discussion questions:
• Who were those voices? How did you know?
• Would you say it’s recognizable? Memorable?
• What makes it memorable?
• Why do you think he made those choices with his voice?
• Is it a good choice? Does it work? Why?

Continue with the clips of Smeagul/Gollum and Spongebob and have similar, though shorter, discussions. This will get the students interested, and it will allow for a pre-assessment of what they know about voice and performance.

Step 1: Discussion

After the discussion, point out to them that we are all exposed to memorable voices. We remember them for different reasons, however it’s important to note that the way that these people use their voices creates meanings and emotions. Ask them the following questions:
• What voices are memorable to you? Why?
• What do you feel when you hear those voices?
• Do you ever use your voice to convey meaning or emotions?

Step 2: Transition

Ask the students if they’ve ever gotten in a fight with someone while texting/e-mailing/instant messaging, etc? Then ask if the fight was because they misunderstood what the other person meant? Allow students to share several experiences (they will want to) then ask them the following question:
• Why is it so easy to misunderstand someone when you can’t hear their voice?
• Why is talking in person easier communicate?

Step 3: Group Practice

Ask the students, “What power do our voices have?” Take a few answers, then explain that we are going to try a little experiment. Ask them to think of only ever being able to speak in a monotone voice at all times. Have them get with a partner. Tell them to have a completely monotone conversation. They can talk about whatever they want, but they have to talk essentially like a robot. Model this type of conversation, and then monitor this process. They’re not allowed to use any inflection in their voices whatsoever—it must always stay the same tone. As they’re talking to their partner then tell them to try to emote that they're happy or excited, but they can’t do it with their voices—only their faces, dialogue, or gestures. Next they have to be angry or sad, but again their voices cannot be the indicators of emotion. Their dialogue will express the emotion, but their voice will stay monotone. This will be a frustrating and fun challenge for the students.

Step 4: Discussion

After the monotone activity, conduct a short discussion using the following questions:
• What was it like?
• Was it hard to express an emotion without the help of your voice?
• Did it feel weird or unnatural?
• How do our voices help us communicate?
• Can we communicate just as well with only monotone dialogue?
• What power do our voices have? As a theatre artists?

This discussion should help the students to understand how they can use their voice in their acting to communicate better. Once you feel like the discussion has reached the point where students are starting to grasp how their voices can help their acting, move onto the next activity

Step 5: Directions

Hand out the Vocal Viewpoints Cheat sheet. Explain that this sheet comes from a system called viewpoints, created and made famous by Anne Boggart and Tina Landau. It’s a way of thinking about your voice in theatre. Ask students to read briefly through the Vocal Viewpoints on their own. They are somewhat self-explanatory, but still ask if any students had any thoughts while reading through the cheat sheet. Then explain to the students that they are going to take this sheet and try out the vocal viewpoints using one single line from their scene. They should pick one line from their scene and read the line, using each viewpoint. They should allow the viewpoints to inform the way the say it. Demonstrate for the students on the line “Arise fair sun and kill the envious moon who is already sick and pale with grief.” Explain that students will show three versions of their lines about 5 minutes of individual practice.

Step 6: Independent Practice

Students should be working individually, trying out their line with all the viewpoints. Float around the room offering suggestions and ideas.

Step 7: Performance

Once students have practiced, have each student perform their line three times, each time using a different vocal viewpoint to inform their line. Be sure to end each mini performance with applause.


The final Vocal Viewpoints activity is the assessment for the day. It is worth 20 points. Deductions should only be made if students do not complete the activity.