Ensemble Building Activity

AIM:    To practice ensemble building with young students by sharing and teaching unique talents/quirks. 
OBJECTIVE: To share and learn to celebrate their unusual tricks and then teach them to their classmates. Every student has an unusual trick they can do! It’s a unique little quirk, which makes them special.    
  • Share their unique tricks in a goofy talent show setting.
  • Learn how to be a patient teacher
  • Be open minded to learning something that seems impossible
  • Have pride in their unique “quirks”
  • Learn to look vulnerable in front of their peers when performing a new skill/trick that is difficult/hard to master.
  • Be a supportive audience for each other during a vulnerable presentation.
  • Approach a “silly” activity with seriousness.
Explain to students, “This activity is called, “Stupid Human Tricks”. 
  1. We explain what a ‘stupid human trick’ is: “Everyone has an unusual trick they can do! It’s a unique little quirk, which makes you…you! There are no excuses! Everyone has something!”
  2. Give students some examples:
    1. Body Tricks: double jointed body parts, wiggling your ears, touching your tongue to your nose
    2. Athletic Tricks: splits, flips, handsprings, stand on your head,
    3. Knowledge Tricks: say the 50 president’s names in less than a minute, sing the alphabet backwards, recite the “I had a Dream Speech”
    4. Misc: Shakespeare Sonnet in another language, drinking water from a straw up their nose, etc..
  1. Explain the rules:
    • The trick has to be performed in ONE MINUTE or less.
    • Have 2 – 3 kids show examples.
    • They will pair up with someone they have NOT worked with yet.
    • They will practice together for 5 – 7 minutes.
    • They have to teach their partner their “trick”. 
      • This is the key lesson: Even if it is a body trick that would be impossible to teach…they must commit, modify and work together to teach each other the trick to the best of their ability.
    • They must practice presenting their trick as an “act”. Beginning, middle and end. (Intro, Trick, and Bow)
  1. Group comes together as a whole and we present as many partners as possible.
    • Remind students that they are on stage and they must commit to presenting their tricks as a full scale scene.
FOLLOW-UP:Discus why this activity is relevant to our work in the theatre: (Working together, patience while learning something difficult, being vulnerable on stage, presenting the trick as a finished scene).
Ask the students:  “Was it harder being the teacher or the student? Why?”
“How did it feel to present a trick that you haven’t mastered yet?”

The Nine Word Play

(30 minutes or more)
AIM: How do we create a performance piece using language and staging?
OBJECTIVE: To allow young students to experience a mini version of the theatrical process of creating performances using language and physical movement.
STUDENTS WILL: Select nine words as the text for a performance piece and stage, rehearse and perform them.
1.         Ask the students to partner into groups of three.
                        2.         Tell them that each group will create a Nine word play.
                                    Each member of the group is responsible for writing THREE
                                    words each giving them a total of NINE words.
                        3.         The FIRST word for each person must be their FIRST NAME.
                                    The SECOND and THIRD words must be words that they associate                                      with themselves. Words that tell us something about them.
                        Example           ANDREA     ITALIAN    PSYCHIC
                                                               MATT    SKATEBOARD    PUNK
                                                               LAUREN      THEATER    PINK
                        4.         Now that they have the LANGUAGE or the text for their play
                                    as a group they must decide how to stage it. What performance
                                    style do they want to use.
                                    Examples:  Musical,  Classical,   Abstract,  Realistic dialogue  etc.
                        5.         Tell them they must put it on its feet. How do they want to stand?
                                    WORK TOGETHER and move as they say their words.
                        6.         They can say the nine words in any way they wish, as many times as
                                    they wish. They can say each other’s words, repeat them, and break
                                    them up, say them together as a chorus etc.
                        7.         Model with two volunteers an example of a nine word play.
                        8.         Give them ten to 15 minutes to work then share each group’s
SUMMARY: You have just gone through a mini version of the theatrical process
from creation to execution. This is how plays are made; we start with a theme,
create the language or the text of the play then stage it physically in a space.

Diagnostic Activities

3 easy-to-facilitate classroom diagnostic activities!
Elements of Diagnostics:
        a short activity
        all students are involved
       the opportunity for the teacher to “step out and observe”
Diagnostic 1: “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring…”
In this exercise, the class sits in a circle and everyone must add on to the picnic list, remembering what the students ahead of them are bringing as well. For an introductory exercise the students can preface their object with “My name is Andrea and I’m going to bring an alligator”. (Alliteration activity).
What can you observe in this diagnostic?
        students ability to engage in the activity
        memorization skills
        patience…while waiting for their turn
        Confidence. How do they react when they forget an object?
        Who seems to be actively trying to remember what everyone is saying, before their turn?
        Shyness. Do they look at their classmates in the eye while they repeat their object or do they look at the floor?
        Attention seekers. Who “milks” their turn?
Diagnostic 2: Create a tableau.
In this exercise, the class is told to create a tableau of a specific scene. For example “a day at the beach”, or “the circus”. They join the scene one at a time and freeze in the “still-life” picture.
What can you observe in this diagnostic?
        students ability to engage in the activity
        Initiation. Who jumps right in? Who waits til the end?
        Balance. The ability to hold a frozen position for a period of time.
        Sustainability. Are they commited to their pose, or do they get distracted watching where their classmates fit it?
        Creativity. Who thinks outside of the box?
        Space awareness
        Do they add-on to another student’s activity? Or do they start their own, in solitude?
        Class dynamics
Diagnostic 3: The numbers game, “Buzz”
In this exercise, the class stands in a circle. The ‘mission’ is for students to be aware of their classmates and count as high as they can.  The rules are: they say buzz on any double numbers or numbers with “3” or “7” in them (13, 17, 22, 30-39, 11…etc), and that causes the movement of the circle to reverse.  If someone messes up, you start from 1. They game gets tricky when you reach the 30s…and the direction switches every single number.
What can you observe in this diagnostic?
        student’s ability to engage in the activity
        listening skills
        counting skills
        quick thinking
        Ability to follow several directions at a time.
        Confidence. How do they react when they mess up?
        Patience. How do they react when someone ELSE messes up?
        Awareness. Are they ready for their turn?

Warm-Up Activity: Down

Dance-based warm-up: called “Down.”

• To play “Down,” have your group assembled in a large circle
• Take turns–or, collectively as a group, you’re going to sing this song:

  •    “D-O-W-N. That’s the way we get down. Uh-huh. D-O-W-N. That’s the way we get down. Uh-huh.”

• At that point in time then, whoever in the circle has the focus is going to ask another person this following sequence of interactions:

Person 1: Hey, Andrea.
Person 2: Hey, what?
Person 1: Hey, Andrea.
Person 2: Hey, what?
Person 1: Show me how you get down.
Person 2: No way.
Person 1: Show me how you get down.
Person 2: Ok.
ALL: D-O-W-N. That’s the way we get down. Uh-huh. D-O-W-N. That’s the way we get down. Uh-huh.
Person 2: Hey, Melissa.
Person 3: Hey, what?
Person 2: Hey, Melissa.
Person 3: Hey, what?
Person 2: Show me how you get down.
Person 3: No way.
Person 2: Show me how you get down.
Person 3: Ok.
ALL: D-O-W-N. That’s the way we get down. Uh-huh. D-O-W-N. That’s the way we get down.

And the energy just gets passed around the circle. Everyone dances and has a good time, gets loosened up. And that’s how you play “Down.”

Lesson Plan: Writing Prompt

This is a lesson plan for highschool students, to be used as a writing prompt….

The Fame GaME

Many people thrive on the celebrity culture and the hopes that they can one day make it into the tabloids with fame and fortune at their beckon call. Many celebrities are even considered to be role models for young adults. Should they be? What makes a good celebrity role model? As aspiring actors, some of you might be the next generation of celebrities! How would you use your fame for good?

Writing Prompts…

Would you rather be famous for your talent or for a tabloid scandal?

How are you a celebrity in your own world? Is it “cooler” to be an individual or to model yourself after a trendy celebrity? What are celebrity trends that you just DON’T get?

How do celebrities affect your body image? Do you think they know? Do you think they care?

Has your opinion of one of your celebrity role models been changed based on their bad behavior? Think about Tiger Woods, or Lindsay Lohan. What would you say in a letter to them? No holding back!

What bad manners or behaviors do celebrities “get away with”? How would your relatives, teachers, or ‘authority figures’ react if you displayed those same behaviors?
Discuss a negative influence that a celebrity has had on your life or the lives of your friends.

Why do celebrity deaths deeply affect so many people? Think about recent celebrity deaths that might have been avoided: Michael Jackson, DJ AM, Britney Murphy, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, etc. etc. etc.

Celebrities normally get paid many times the amount that firefighters, teachers and policemen earn.  Do you think celebrities make more money than they deserve?

Use a celebrity “catch phrase” as a hook, perhaps in opposition to how the phrase was intended. For example: “Celebrity DUI’s – not hot. Using your fame to raise money for Haiti? That’s hot.”

Does Fame bring happiness?

Dear _____________ you are NOT my role model….

If I was famous…..