If you’re riding the battle bus to rehearsals and the scenes look stagnant, dull, or downright boring, you and your students may be suffering from a case of rehearsal. Rehearsal tracking tends to occur in the mid-to-late stages of the rehearsal process, when the novelty and excitement have worn off, the costumes, props, and sets aren’t finished yet, and your students aren’t quite ready for the audience. . Students can feel themselves going through the motions as they work on their scenes, and you may wonder if the show will ever come together.
Sometimes the best way to strengthen a scene is to approach it in a new way, outside of the standard rehearsal process. Here are some exercises to try:
The emotional scene
Divide the scene you are working on into four sections. It gives each section a definite emotion. Don’t worry about making sure it fits the dialogue, just come up with four different emotions. You can even pull them out of a hat. Then play the scene moving from emotion to emotion. How does the scene change when a certain emotion is forced upon it?
Act out your scene, but switch sides. What do you learn about the other character? What do you learn about your character when you see them played by another actor?
Do the scene without speaking. What happens? Is the lock easy or hard to remember? Do you find yourself sitting in the same place for a long time? Does the blocking help the story? Do this exercise in front of an audience. What does the audience get out of the scene when they have no dialogue to rely on? How do your characters appear?
Play the scene, but instead of doing the blocking, play a game. It must be a game that doesn’t require a lot of talking (eg Plinko, Jenga, Snakes and Ladders). Stay in character and maintain the conflict and tension in the scene as you play. If you end the scene before ending the game, start over.
Back to back
Play the scene with the actors standing back to back. How does the scene change without eye contact?
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