HSC Drama: Individual Project (Performance) Checklist

I recently posted a checklist of items that I get my students to complete during the first term of working on their Individual Project. I mentioned in the post that I would blog separate lists for the activities that I gets students to complete for particular projects.

The most common project chosen is Performance so I will post about that first. I also have a to-do list for Scriptwriting and Poster & Promotion which seem to be the other projects that my students have commonly chosen over the years and will post those in future.

Remember that this carries on from the checklist in Term 1 so if there are particular items that weren’t finished from that list they can work on those over the holidays or complete those first before starting on this list. The list in this post is just for Term 2.  

CONSULTATION SCHEDULE – Stick this new schedule in for this term and ensure you are committing to your meeting time each week. After each consultation you should write a logbook entry. Date everything.

LOGBOOK CHECKLIST – Stick this in and tick off items when completed. Date and sign when each item is done.

READINGS – Read, highlight and annotate any readings about monologue preparation given to you by your teacher. If you have been reading monologues over the holidays, select your top three and present them to your teacher so that a discussion can be had as to which one should be performed for the exam. Ensure logbook entries are written after each monologue has been read and photocopies of each of the monologues is in your logbook. Write a logbook entry after a decision has been made about your monologue choice.

CHARACTER RESEARCH – Complete an investigation into the type of character you are playing or the themes and issues within your play. Look at other characters from film, TV, books or plays that capture some of these issues/themes. You may also consider conducting surveys, focus groups, journal readings, interviews. Use this to help you form an idea of who you think your character is. Write a short logbook entry describing them. Create a small (1/2 – 1 page) vision board of words and visuals that represent who they are to compliment your logbook entry.

EDIT YOUR SCRIPT – Read through your script and consider its length. Is it too long or too short? What parts need to be cut/added in order for it to make sense? What references need to be re-contextualised/modernised? Photocopy your script and make edits and cuts in pencil. Stick in various excerpts from sections of the script/book if necessary. Once you have decided on your final draft, type out your script into a Word document and stick it into your logbook. Ensure you save this as you will need it to complete the other activities on your checklist. Write a logbook entry explaining your process when completing this, any challenges you faced and how you addressed the problems.

SCORE YOUR SCRIPT – Using the guide provided by your teacher, begin your script analysis by identifying the super-objective, objective, beats and possible action/movement/gesture that is needed in each beat.

SUBTEXT EXERCISE – Using the guide provided by your teacher. Rewrite your monologue so that you are writing it as though you are inside the character’s head and speaking what they would honestly say/mean if they weren’t in conflict with themselves/others.

ROLE ANALYSIS – Using the guide provided by your teacher, complete all the questions as though you are in role. If you don’t know something, make it up so that it reflects what the character in their world would think/feel/do. I’ve written about how to do this in another post which you can read here.

DESCRIBE YOUR CHARACTER – Write down 3-5 words that describe your character at the beginning of the monologue. Write down 3-5 words that describe your character at the end of the monologue. Can you identify the main points in your character’s journey? What is the turning point for this character? When do they, if at all, begin to change?

DIRECTOR’S CONCEPT (DRAFT) – Using the scaffold provided, write a draft rationale/director’s concept of 300 words about your performance piece.

LOGBOOK CHECK – This will be in Week 7, 9 and 10. We will have a group feedback session at the beginning of our Thursday lesson (Wk 7A) in this week to tell each other what we have been doing.

DRAMA PANEL #2 – Present your draft rationale/director’s concept to the panel. Discuss any challenges faced and how they were overcome. Ask any questions of the panel as you see fit at this point in your project.

What do you get your students to complete at this point in the project? Share your thoughts below.

Photo Credit: blondinrikard via Compfight cc

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Quick Ideas for Physical Theatre, Inspired by Soccer Players!

Hello loyal followers. Long time no write.

I apologise.

It has been one hectic year and I haven’t been able to prioritise the blog as much as I would like. Ah, the joys of starting at a new school.

I have a stack of posts I want to write and hopefully as the year winds down and we head into summer break here in Australia, I can catch up and get some new material out. I have a heap of stuff I would like to share and have been meaning to for some time.

Having said that, I was sitting down watching television the other night after a long day at work and one of the segments was about the creative ways soccer players celebrate after they shoot a goal. I thought to myself, “These clips are brilliant for my Year 9 Drama class.” They really are an excellent way to show how to use the body to tell a story or make an object. They could be a great way to start off a lesson or link in when you are talking about movement and using your bodies to make shapes etc.

Below are a just a few that I thought were pretty good but if you have a bit of a search around YouTube there are plenty more.

1. The Fish Celebration

 

2. The Rowing Celebration

 

3.  The Swimming Celebration

 

4. The Grenade Celebration

 

Writing a Role Analysis

One of the popular pages on the blog seems to be the Suggestions for Monologues page. Once you’ve picked a monologue it is a good idea when developing an Individual Performance either for the HSC or for some other class assessment, that an actor, as part of the rehearsal process should write a role analysis.

A role analysis is something that is prepared by an actor to give them a greater understanding of their character within the context of the whole play and within particular scenes. It’s like a road map of the character’s life and requires you to draw on your own to make it believable and convincing. The actor utilises their dialogue and interactions to help form a picture of their character which they can then use to physicalise the character and make offers.

In answering the following questions an actor should be able to do the above effectively. Aspects of a character that are not clear from the dialogue and interactions in the play can be made up by the actor as part of their own interpretation.

Character Name:

Autobiographical Facts:

  • What was your parent’s upbringing like?
  • Do you have any siblings?
  • What sort of education did you receive?
  • What is your health like?
  • When have the significant major relationships in your life begun?

Interests:

  • What do you enjoy doing (music, food etc)?
  • What do you consider your idiosyncracies to be?

Physical Description:

  • How old are you?
  • What is your height/weight?
  • What clothing do you wear?
  • What are your grooming habits?
  • If you had to compare yourself to an animal, what would it be and why?

Success/Failures/Upbringing:

  • What success have you had in your life?
  • How did these affect how you turned out?
  • What failures have you had in your life?
  • How did these affect how you turned out?

In Your Scene:

  • What time is it?
  • What aspects of time affect your action?
  • Where are you? Describe your surroundings.
  • What actions result from your relationship to this place?
  • What are the significant objects relating to your surroundings?
  • What actions do you complete that relate to these objects?
  • What activities are you up to the moment the scene begins?
  • What is happening in the scene (explore the tension here)?
  • What is your relationship to the other characters in the scene?
  • What is your relationship to the other characters mentioned in the scene?
  • What has led to these feelings?
  • What do you like/dislike about them?
  • In what ways do you need the person in the scene?
  • In what ways are you vulnerable to the other person in the scene?
  • What is your super-objective (what do I wish for, need, dream about)?
  • What is it you need at the beginning of the scene?
  • What will you try to do to get what you want?
  • What will happen if you don’t get what you need?
  • What or who is in my way?
  • What do I do to get what I want?
  • What can I draw upon from my own life to help create the characters wants, actions and emotional life? Describe.

This would make a great lesson activity when doing some scene work or work on monologues.

Photo Credit: twm1340 via Compfight cc

Warm Up of the Week: Me, You!

This is a great warm-up when preparing to work on vocal delivery and looking at the varied ways we use our voices to convey emotion:

1. Begin in a circle.

2. One person (A) in the circle starts by saying, “Me” and pointing at themselves.

3. That same person (A) then finds someone else (B) in the circle, points at them, says “You!” and begins walking towards them.

4. Before that person (A) gets to (B), (B) must then say, “Me”, find someone else, point at them, begin walking towards them saying “You!”

5. This flows on with people moving from spot to spot.

6. Once student’s have got the hang of the exercise, call out an emotion in which they have to deliver the “Me, You” words.

7. At the conclusion of the game have a discussion about how people’s voice, walk and body language varied during the exercise when different emotions were called out.

Lesson Lovenotes: Elements of Drama Teaching Suggestions

The Elements of Drama are the absolute bread and butter of the drama sandwich. In every which way possible, whether it is in individual lessons or in your programming and scope and sequencing, you must, must, must, must, must come back to the elements of drama.

The Elements of drama can be studied individually or collectively. Ideally you want to be designing lessons that may focus on an element or particular elements at any one time. In the end though, they all work together to create a drama performance.

The Elements of Drama are (I’ve grouped them together in the way that I like to teach them):

  • Focus
  • Space
  • Character/Role
  • Time/Place/Situation
  • Tension
  • Structure
  • Language/Sound
  • Movement/Timing/Rhythm
  • Atmosphere/Mood/Symbol/Moment
  • Audience Engagement/Dramatic Meaning

My initial unit of study when my student’s come into Drama for the first time in Year 9 is an introductory unit that looks at the Elements of Drama and combines Theatre Sports. Here are some suggestions that I like to use in my classroom when introducing the Elements to my students:

  • SPACE: “Simon Says, UpStage Left!” – a great little game exploring the physical stage space. Have students move from one part of the stage to the other depending on what you call out. The slowest person to get to the spot is out. Have the last two student’s have a”face off”. Have two rounds and the champions from each round can go head to head. Also great for teaching terms such as prompt, opposite prompt, masking and sightlines. You could also look at exploring types of stage spaces such as proscenium arch stage, thrust stage, amphi-theatre and theatre in the round.
  • FOCUS: Look at generating short scenes that look at a) the focus of a scene, b) the focus of the audience, c) the focus of the character and/or d) the focus of the actor. Discuss, compare and contrast scenes that have actors walking around the space doing nothing, the same scene again but with actor’s looking for something and then again but this time it’s a bomb and it will explode in 20 seconds. Discuss how the energy and tension of the scene changes.
  • CHARACTER: Character exercises are a whole post in themselves but you want to start with exercises that focus on awareness of facial expression, tone of voice, body language and movement. You could incorporate Theatre Sports here or choose excerpts from scripts. Some concepts you might also like to explore here are making offers, accepting offers, accepting  and committing to the fiction, conviction/belief, status, action/reaction.
  • TIME/PLACE/SITUATION/TENSION: Improvisation is key here. Play around with scenes that allow student’s to explore not only some typical situations but some unusual ones as well e.g. underneath a rock, at the bottom of the ocean etc. Really focus on the concept of conflict here. Get student’s to improvise scenes that look at man vs. man conflict, man vs. himself and man vs. nature.
  • LANGUAGE/SOUND: Voice workshops are a brilliant starting point. Have student’s become aware of their breath, throat and diaphragm. Consider doing an accent workshop. Have them working with scripts to explore clarity, volume, pitch, pace, inflection, emphasis and pause. Consider how atmosphere can be created using soundscapes and body percussion. Explore scenes that use no sound or language (mime).
  • MOVEMENT/TIMING/RHYTHM: No drama class is complete without a movement workshop. Consider exploring the Laban Movements and putting on music to dance to. Look at physical offers in improvisation as a starting point for a scene.  Look Look at the physicality of characters and the use of space to show relationships. Look at the blocking in a scripted scene. Consider the effect of stillness, contrast, intensity, tableau and expression in a movement piece.
  • ATMOSPHERE/MOOD/SYMBOL: Watch some film excerpts that use music to guide the audience’s feelings in a scene. Consider the use of colour and set in costumes and what they mean to the audience.
  • AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT/DRAMATIC MEANING: At the conclusion of every exercise always ask the class what it was about the element of drama that made the audience feel engaged in the action on stage and what they understood was happening on stage because of that element. In adding this in to your classroom discussion you are effectively making your students become critical thinkers and theatre appreciators.

Image Credits: The Drama Room 5, karlao