Monologue Must Share: Orson The Beetleslayer

For those who are embarking on the HSC this term and will be in the process of trying to look for some good monologues for their students to perform, may I suggest taking a look at the Suggestions to Monologues page (click on the link in the left hand tool bar). There are some great suggestions there. Also, I suggest reading the comments as other people offer their suggestions.

I thought I’d also share a clip I was watching the other day that I thought would make a really great monologue. It’s from Game of Thrones. Whilst a good majority of Game of Thrones content is unusable I did find this scene between Tyrion and Jaime to be quite a lovely scene. Performers could create their own character and adapt the dialogue to fit its circumstances. Anyway, I thought it was quite a sensitive moment amidst all the blood and gore on that show.

You can watch the clip HERE.

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

Monologue Must Share: Calvin Candie, Django Unchained

I’ve got the 52 Plays in 52 Weeks Challenge but I’ve also had a little challenge going for a long while now that I haven’t talked about.

I’ve made myself a long list of films to get through in search of good monologues that students could adapt and perform for their Individual Performance in the HSC.

This one, that I just had to share, is from the film Django Unchained. Now it is rated MA15+. It is violent. There is bad language. This YouTube clip is in serious breach of copyright.

In saying that however, I just had to share this moment from the film. How Leonardo Dicaprio has not won an Oscar I still do not understand.

I was completely glued to him during this scene. I can’t really describe it. You just have to watch it. Whilst watching it however,  I did wonder, could it be performed on stage? I don’t see why it couldn’t. With a few little tweaks (namely the knife cutting the skull as blades are not permitted in performances) it could be a really good piece for a strong male actor and I always seem to find it hard to find good male pieces. Or maybe I’m just completely mental for thinking this could work as a piece of performance.

What do you think?

You can find other monologue suggestions at the top of the page under the Suggestions for Monologues section.

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

9 Must Watch Ted Talks About The Arts

I’ve blogged about my discovery of the Ted Talks website some time ago now and I’ve been meaning to share with you some of my favourite talks that focus on The Arts. There are some really insightful talks that get you to really connect with the Arts in a way that you may not have before or that you may not have indulged in for a time because I think we get too caught up in our day to day school lives to really think about these sorts of things.

I ask you to indulge in at least one of these that takes your interest. Choose any one which sounds interesting.

Trust me, you will feel better about what you do once you watch it.

Consider it your 20 minutes of free professional development/reflection that you may not have had in a while. Enjoy.

1. Chris Bliss: Comedy is Translation

If you teach Comedy or enjoy comedy this talk is all about the truth that can be found in comedy.

2. Charles Hazelwood: Trusting the Ensemble

Hazelwood discusses the role of trust when leading an ensemble. I think some of the ideas are translatable to other areas of the Arts.

3. Handspring Puppet Co: The Genius Puppetry Behind War Horse

The creators of Joey in War Horse share the complexities of bringing the puppets to life on stage.

4. Charles Limb: Your Brain on Improv

This is my favourite. Limb explains what happens when you improvise when playing music. I also think this is relevant in Drama.

5. Ben Cameron: The True Power of the Performing Arts

Cameron discusses how the Performing Arts must compete in an Internet age.

6. Thelma Golden: How Art Gives Shape to Cultural Change

Golden discusses the meaning of Art and how can it redefine culture.

7. Amy Tan: Where Does Creativity Hide?

Tan analyses her own creative processes to see where it starts and flourishes.

8. David Eggers’ Wish: Once Upon a School

If you’re looking for something that’s pro-public school and teachers. This is it 🙂

9. Anna Deavere Smith: Four American Characters

A great soloist performing some interesting characters. A possible source for Individual Project: Performance.

Fantastic Find: Goodreads

The other day one of the lovely educators I follow @carlaleeB tweeted a link to an article from Free Technology for Teachers about this website called Goodreads and how it was helpful when teaching student’s about reading and an appreciation and enjoyment of reading. Now, I dabble in a little English teaching myself. It’s not my first love and I probably spend more time teaching English than Drama but it’s still something I do enjoy teaching. Especially when it comes to the appreciation and enjoyment of reading. I’m much better at teaching that than the actually issues in a text.

I then had a think about how this resource could be used in Drama. It got me thinking about two things:

  1. It’s a place I could go to find text ideas to use in my classes.
  2. It’s a place my student’s could go to find text ideas for performance.

The NSW HSC (Higher School Certificate) is made up of two components:

  1. 60% – Practical
  2. 40% – Theory

Two topics are studied in the theory component: either Contemporary Australian Theatre Practice or Australian Theatre Traditions. You must choose two texts from the prescribed list and look at both theoretically and experientially. The second topic is Studies in Drama and Theatre. Studied in a similar fashion students can choose from a range of topics include Approaches to Acting, Greek Theatre, Irish Drama etc.

The practical component consists of a Group Performance (3 to 6 group members create an original playbuilt piece for between 8-12 minutes) and an Individual Project. This can include anything from Performance, Scriptwriting, Design (Costume, Set, Lighting, Poster and Promotion), Critical Review, Director’s Portfolio or Video Drama.

One of the most popular areas of the HSC and the Individual Project component of the course is Performance. Most Drama student’s choose to perform a monologue. Followed closely by Scriptwriting and Costume Design.

The thing I struggle with the most when it comes to my performance student’s is:

  1. The lack of dramatic material that they know;
  2. Their lack of motivation to look for any play scripts;
  3. Their inability to look and adapt novels and film scripts for performance;

Even with a consultation process and fortnightly peer review and presentation sessions I always find students steering towards an average script from some B-Grade website and an unknown author. Not that I’m being frank or anything (rolls eyes). It’s a hard, cold reality unfortunately and it’s affecting the quality of student performance and ultimately the grade they receive.

At the same time and in complete and utter honesty, I’m often at a loss to remember or have anything on hand that I can think of to recommend to student’s for them to consider researching and performing. As teacher’s we’re in a position to guide student’s and it is incredibly difficult when you have a thousand things to do and be a walking library as well!

That’s why I think Goodreads is a great idea and an inspiration for a new section on my blog: I can connect with others and get ideas about great novels and add them to my new page.

After posting this today I will be beginning to compile a page of recommended movies and books with characters in them that can be adapted for an individual performance. It doesn’t even have to be for the HSC. It can be for any kind of performance.  I’ve already got some fantastic ideas.

The website says “Imagine it as a large library that you can wander through and see everyone’s bookshelves, their reviews, and their ratings. You can also post your own reviews and catalog what you have read, are currently reading, and plan to read in the future. Don’t stop there – join a discussion group, start a book club, contact an author, and even post your own writing.”

Some of the features I like include:

  • Three shelves: one for “read”, “currently reading” and “to-read”. You can also create your own shelves and name them. “Great Books for Drama” anyone?
  • Links with Amazon: When searching for a book to put on your shelf it links with Amazon’s catalogue. Amazon has just about everything so this means your selection of titles is huge!
  • Create a Spreadsheet: You can import your book list to Excel. Excel-lent for when you want to give your list of titles to your drama kids as ideas for their monologue performance.

There are plenty of other great features as well. You can sign up through your Facebook account or create a separate login. It also has an i-Phone app and can be followed on both Twitter and Facebook.

How do you find texts for student’s to use? Share your ideas with us in the comments.

10 Textbooks No Drama Teacher Should Be Without

I was having a moment the other day. One of those out of body experiences where you watch the chaos around you in the classroom and think to yourself, “How crazy is this?”, “Is this for real?” and “What the hell is little Johnny doing?”, “What the hell am I doing?” I have them occasionally and it just reminds me how incredible teachers are. We seem to battle on through amidst the seeming chaos.

I guess those experiences also remind me how far I’ve come in my five years of teaching. That ability to watch what is happening in front of me and laugh and know that it’s not the end of the world and if I had to tell new, beginning teacher’s what to expect and how to react, reacting the way I did the other day (watching everything happen in slow motion and as though it’s something out of a B Grade movie), is perfectly healthy and necessary at times.

I would also tell my beginning Drama teacher’s: don’t ever be stuck for resources. Utilise your school library and make sure it stocks not only the best plays and resource material for student’s but also resource material for yourself. Make friends with your librarian 🙂

Utilise every possible Professional Development day you can. Work towards some goals. Be realistic about those goals and know that it’s not possible to achieve everything you want to in your first year and that in every school you work at for your entire career the goals and expectations you have will be different because every school is different. Perhaps in your first year your goal will be about managing behaviour. The following year it might be how you teach a particular theatrical style or play. By having a goal to work towards it will make it easier to choose a course to take for Professional Development.

Over the years I have made sure my library is up to date with all the play scripts that are on the prescribed text list and added a few extra text books just for extra reference for myself and the student’s. I like walking into the library and going over to the theatre section a lot. It inspires me. I don’t even have to open any of the books. It just telepathically fills me with ideas. It’s funny like that.

Here are my ten text books that I cannot live without:

1. Acting in Person and In Style Australia by Carol Wimmer – I use this book a lot when I am teaching monologues, duologues, acting skills (voice workshops). It is also brilliant for teaching a range of performance styles.

2. Dramawise by Brad Haseman – The bible full of exercises for explicitly teaching the elements of drama. I highly recommend this book as a starting point for beginning teachers.

3. You’re On by Rob Galbraith – Another fantastic text with exercises to teach students about performance elements as well as the roles of people behind the scenes. 

4. Living Drama by Bruce Burton – This is actually part of a three part series (Making Drama and Creating Drama are his titles for lower secondary drama students) and is best used with senior students. It looks at aspects of drama in a slightly more sophisticated way which is applicable to senior students and their essays.

5. Navigating Drama by Richard Baines and Mike O’Brien – A great text for students in Year 9-10 Drama. Some of the particularly helpful sections include the playbuiding chapter and the commedia dell arte chapter.

6. Navigating Senior Drama by Richard Baines and Mike O’Brien – I like this senior text because of its focus on the NSW Drama Syllabus. It has focus chapters on Australian Drama and Theatre which forms part of the theory component of the course as well as a section specifically devoted to some of the Studies in Drama and Theatre topics (Brecht, Greek Theatre and American Drama). It also has good chapters on the Group and Individual Performance units.

7. Centre Stage by Matthew Clausen –  Great teaching suggestions plus some really great templates for teaching the elements of production including costume design and lighting and sound plotting.

8. Lighting and Sound by Neil Fraser – everything you need to know about lighting and sound in a simple easy to understand way. Absolute gold.

9. Stage Design and Props by Michael Holt – As above. An absolute gem of a book if you want to learn about set design and making.

10. Costume and Make-Up by Michael Holt Ditto as above.

Oh, and if I haven’t mentioned it before Improvisation: A Guide by Lyn Pierse. Absolutely excellent for anything Theatre Sports or improvisation related. Oh, oh, oh and if you’re teaching Publicity and Program Design try Stage Management and Theatre Administration by Pauline Menear and Terry Hawkins.

Have you got a text book that you swear by? Share it with us in the comments.

Image Credits: T’aiuto io, tassomanAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)