I am teaching a drama class at our co-op and I thought maybe some of you might like to know what we have been doing in case you would like to teach a similar class at your co-op.
I started off the class with a simple name game. We don't all know each other well, so I thought it would help us to learn at least each other's names. This game also help to build concentration skills, a skill useful to an actor.
Circle of Names
Sit in a circle. Say your name and "I like ________." Fill in the blank with anything you like. You then go around the circle and in turn each person repeats the name of each person who has gone before and what that person likes. Others can help out as needed.
What Kind of Show?
We talked about what kind of show would they like to put on at the end of the classes. We talked about the options of a play that has already been written and about the royalties that are charged for such shows. We talked about the possibility of adapting a famous story, such as Little Red Riding Hood. We could also create a play ourselves. The last option is just to do a show of improvisations, made up from the audiences suggestions. I asked them to think about this, discuss it with their parents and be prepared to talk about it next week.
I then went on to a relaxation exercise. I plan to teach them a different one each week. This week I just had them stand, stretch and tighten each part of their bodes, one at a time, from toes to scalp and outstretched fingers. I told them to hold it tight, and then relax each part in the reverse sequence. I then told them to shake themselves loose, take a deep each breath. They should now be sufficiently relaxed.
I had them play another concentration game next. I selected two people at a time and had one person sit in a chair and the other person must do or say anything to make the first person laugh without ever touching him. Once the person laughs, they then trade places.
Ten Elements of Acting
I then told them a little about the ten elements of acting, which are the 5 w's: who, what, where, when and why and the 5 senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. These, in combination produce the actor's physical behavior. I find often if an actor is not coming off true to character it is because he does not have a complete understanding of one of these factor's of their character's world.
The W's Exercises
We then put these into action with some exercises in which they practiced improvisation scenes centered around the question of "what?"
I asked students to cross the acting area and shake hands with each other, as if...
-They are trying to restore a friendship after having a fight.
-One, who has just won a scholarship, is sharing his triumph with his buddy, who is trying to hide his disappointment at losing it himself.
-As spies, both trying to determine what the other is up to.
-One, a shy child, is trying to get up the courage to greet a great uncle whom she fears.
Then we did some centered around the question of "where?"
One student is asked to get up and start doing something that gives hints about a location. As soon as any student knew where he was, they could start doing something in that same space, not particularly the same thing as the previous actor.
Then we focused on the aspect of understanding the sensory part of acting with Many Ways to Open a Door: I had them each pantomime opening a door, but challenged them each to do it in a different way.
Combining the 5 W's
I asked them to move a chair as if (what):
-preparing for a meeting
-getting away from a mouse
-fixing a light bulb
Now, move a chair as if you are fixing a light bulb, but you are (who):
-an anxious store clerk
-an arrogant movie star
I asked them speak each other's name as if...
-explorers in a cave trying to find each other
-movers handling a large piece of glass
-spies meeting in a secret place to share information
-two thieves stealing
They were quite surprised to hear that I was assigning homework. I asked them to practice brushing their teeth for the whole week with the other hand from what they are used to using. I will tell you why I asked them to do this next week, after we discuss it in class.
Drama Class 2
Drama Class 2