A blog following teacher Aaron Jura as he plans engaging, yet relevant English Language Arts content for High School students in New Orleans, LA.
Today we had the opportunity to do a small group acting workshop with professional actress Nafeesa Monroe who is currently appearing in The Wedding Gift at the Contemporary American Theater Festival here at Shepherd University. WOW! So many takeaways and fun activities to do with students to get them into character or to analyze/summarize plot, etc.
I'll be honest -- I almost groan every year when I have to do a drama in English class. I can tell you that this workshop really made me understand how to make this fun and exciting for my kids and I think the icebreakers and activities would be engaging even when studying literature.
To tell the story as an actor you need to know how you appear -- in all aspects. We started the session by simply walking around the space at a normal pace. As we got comfortable walking about Nafessa would tell us at what pace to walk (think 1-10, with a 5 being a standard pace.) Then she would announce that we should use a particular part of our body to change our stride. Maybe being led (like you had a string attached to the left hip/then the right hip/toes/heart/head/belly/etc.) Each minor change to the stride helped to produce the look of a different kind of character. I thought the right hip looked more regal or royal, where the heart appeared more open (arms wide and outstretched.)
The second exercise was an open scene where a set three line and two character interaction is written down and in pairs you act out your interpretation.
Here were the lines:
A: What time is it?
B: Um, it's 7.
A: Oh. Thanks.
This forced us to come up with a backstory and add emotions and interactions to the lines to portray a character. My group decided that character A was a woman on a blind date (he's obviously late or she's being ditched) and character B is the waiter at the restaurant. Here's a video example of an acting class using simple dialog and adding the emotion to the scene with their facial expressions and body language:
I'll post PART 2 of the acting workshop later on...
Mr. J is a high school teacher in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mr. J believes in the power of educators to help children and families achieve. Follow his blog for tips and techniques to keep engagement high and student achievement at the forefront.