Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth
I cannot believe that fall is almost here. Let’s enjoy what is left of the summer the best that we can. It seems that students are excited to be back at school. It is so refreshing to see the enthusiasm from the students when they walk into drama class. We have been working on improvisation and drama games, which helps the students get comfortable in the space they are in. During improvisation the actor is forced to react spontaneously to what is happening on stage. All of the concentration is directed toward the situation and the other actors in the scene. Students learn to be good listeners, think in their feet, respond quickly, think ahead and problem solve. This can be a tool in everyday life.
We also worked a lot with our senses. An actor’s tool is their body. In order to use it properly we have to be well tuned. The first thing we do in class is warm up our instrument. Students vocally and physically worked together as an ensemble during warm-ups. This would get them ready to utilize their body actions as well as facial and verbal expressions during improvisation. By using the senses students were able to express themselves in a more natural truthful way. We had a full day of movement. It was a combination of stretching, dance, yoga, isolation moves, and tai chi. Students had to follow directions and also stay in rhythm with me! Bravo students! You rocked 🙂 In order to cool down I had my students work on diaphragm breathing and exercising their imagination. They had to lay down and close their eyes and think of somewhere else other than being in the drama room. They had to imagine this room and use their senses while doing so.
We talked about emotional memory recall and how it can help us as actors. Memory recall helps u recall different events in our lives. The theory of affective memory believes that every emotional experience that we have been through is remembered and exists in our subconscious. In acting we need to know how to trigger affective memory when we wish too. This is part of improvisation. Affective memories are often triggered in everyday life. Remembering how our senses were used at certain moments, can help us bring back those feelings when acting to make it more believable on stage.
With enough practice the actor gradually begins to realize that every performance of a staged play and every real life situation, are formed with the same level of energy and Improvisation. We use improvisation every day. I believe students have gained some confidence in this unit and are much more aware of their surroundings.
Lastly we worked some more serious emotions in class. Often times children like to be funny, or choose characters that are light hearted and happy but that isn’t real life. People are sad, disappointed, mad, lonely, confused, etc . I shared an experience I went through that made me very sad. As I told my story they saw how it changed my voice, posture, expression/ emotion and gesture. Most of the class showed me empathy and came up to me and gave me a hug. I told them that they all showed me compassion by listening and giving me their attention. As I shared that experience they saw my whole demeanor change. I told them if I had to play “sad” on stage I would just think of that experience and that emotion would be believable on stage because of me remembering my real life situation.
IT was then time for my classmates to show someone in their class sympathy, empathy and compassion. I had my students pair up in class and share a story or experience about their life that made them sad. Their partners had to listen and show them compassion somehow. I saw kids passing out tissues, hugging, listening intently, putting their head or hand on their shoulder, moving closer to their partner, etc. It was a beautiful thing to see everyone could be so honest with themselves and trust their partners.
We closed with talking about how actors need to also take themselves out of that moment when they are finished and think of something good and positive to get them through their day as normal. I was so happy to see how much empathy and sympathy was shown during class. A lot of kids said they felt closer to their partner and better after sharing their experience! So proud of you guys!