Excerpt from Teaching Acting and Directing

Acting and Directing

Excerpt from Teaching Acting and Directing

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Excerpt from Teaching Acting and Directing

Allison Thorp

6 Replies to “Excerpt from Teaching Acting and Directing”

    • You could do it with as few as 3 or 4, Lara. The more the merrier, but as long as you 3 or 4, you can make the exercises work and have duet scenes in addition to monologues. I’ve personally taught it with anywhere from 7 to 20.

  1. Hello Sabrina, I have a quick question. In the section about students giving critique, when you say, “It should address one of the four core areas of an actor’s interpretation of a role (physical, vocal, relational or emotional),” what exactly do you mean by “physical” “vocal” “relational” or “emotional”? I need to explain these four core areas to my students, so I want to be sure I fully understand them first.
    Also, I love the curriculum. Been a major help as I prepare to teach my *first* theatre class!

    • Hi Ruby! I’m so glad you are gearing up for your FIRST theatre class!
      Any time actors perform, they are making choices about how to use their bodies (posture, gestures, gait, stance, etc.), and voices (volume, phrasing, pace, accent, pitch, etc.) in their efforts to bring the character to life and invite the audience into the story. Relational and emotional choices are more sophisticated.

      Relational choices in interpretation are things like where they stand in proximity to another character, whether they appear to like/dislike them, trust/distrust them, lead/follow them, challenge/acquiesce to them, etc. Even in monologues, other characters are related to the speaker, or can be imagined, even if they are not mentioned specifically. For example, a character talking about facing hardship and poverty can imagine what kind of relationship they had with a parent, or a boss who fired them, or a landlord who evicted them. All of those are relational choices in interpreting a character.

      Emotional choices have to do not only with WHICH emotions to express, but how intensely to express them (there are SOOO many ways to appear sad without ever shedding a tear, right?), and how mixed/complex each of those emotions may be. So someone who delivers an angry line may be doing so because they are fed up with a bully who has talked down to them for the last time…or may deliver that angry line because they are arrogant, cold and uncaring, even though the person to whom they’re speaking deserves some pity. One of those interpretations will make them sympathetic to the audience; the other will make them appear to be a villain.

      Critique is most effective when it is specific.
      Unhelpful: I don’t think you seemed very scared.
      Helpful: I wonder if hunching your shoulders rather than standing up tall would communicate fear more clearly? And are you afraid of the person you’re telling about the crime, or do you trust them? It kind of seems like you’re scared of them, as well as scared of the memory of the crime itself.

      I hope that helps! Feel free to ask more questions if you think of them!

  2. Great curriculum!
    Question: I don’t see what time you allot to this semester course? I teach a once a week homeschool co-op and only have about 45 mins of teaching time given to me. How do you make this work over a semester (12-14 weeks)? I will also be teaching middle schoolers (7th & 8th grade). We will cover speech in the first semester, and I would like to do some improve and theatre skills in the second.
    Thanks for the advice.

    • Hi Kirsten!
      Good question. A lot depends on the number of students in your group. If each kid gets 5 minutes or so of “performance time” in a class meeting, you can make that work. If you have too many students for that, you can alternate, and half of the class will present their pieces each week, then take a week off. When I taught this locally, I typically had 20 students and a 2-hour class meeting…so if you have 8, a 45-minute class should be workable. More than that and you will likely need to alternate. Remember that the kids are learning a lot from watching each other’s performances and practicing good critique of what they see. You learn a LOT by watching your fellow students in addition to getting their feedback when you perform your own piece.

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