Everybody pretends from time to time and everybody pretends to believe. It takes a special type of person to act out those imagined realities and a much more creative type of person to help others learn to do so. If you are teaching theater for the first time, fine-tune your theater teaching technique or simply hope to incorporate drama lessons into your daily mentorship of any kind. There are reliable exercises and other tricks you can learn about teaching drama.
Method 1 of 4: Teach Theater to Actors of Any Skill Level
Step 1. Have everyone share their names and personalities
Whether you are teaching child professional actors or older people acting for the first time, you will need to do an introductory exercise. There are a number of particularly fun ways to do it theatrically.
- Try the exercise of giving the name and doing an action. Have someone say their name while taking an action that reflects their personality.
- Then have everyone else (in unison) say their name out loud and do the action as well.
Step 2. Ask the class to greet each other as they act
Make everyone pair up and see each other face to face. Pick some basic greetings for everyone to interact with, such as "Hi, how are you?" As well as responses like "Okay, thanks for asking." Then direct your students to act out this interaction with different characters.
- Mention the type of character you want your students to impersonate and go through several different characterizations.
- Just say "Say hello to someone else as________."
- Fill in the blank as desired. Some great ideas include:
- resentful old enemies who have forgotten why they are enemies;
- Internet lovers who do not know each other in person;
- constipated business professionals;
- neighbors about to argue over a property line (once again).
- Do the exercise quickly so that they have enough time for them to mention all the lines.
- He then points out that even a seemingly uninteresting line of dialogue can have immense dramatic effect.
Step 3. Have the participants contribute to the structure of the course
An excellent discussion to have with your class at the beginning of the course is what they hope to gain from the time they spend together. This will be helpful to both experienced theater students and newcomers. Facilitate this discussion by asking questions and engaging your students.
- To start the discussion, ask everyone what they think "theater" and "acting" entail. Those opinions alone will likely lead to some interesting discussions.
- Ask about each one's personal acting experience. This will help you steer subsequent sessions toward appropriate exercises based on your level of experience in that particular group.
- Ask how participants incorporate acting into daily life. This will remind everyone of the degree to which theater is part of our realities that we live in, even when we are not acting consciously.
Step 4. Include a pantomime in each class
Students of any level will want to physically perform in every class. Pantomimes are vital exercises since much of the theater is non-verbal. Lead group acting exercises with pantomime exercises that are inspired by role or location.
- Divide the class into groups. Give each group a quick cue reminding them that talking is not allowed (even if you do allow them to talk to each other for a few minutes to plan the group pantomime).
- Remind each group to plan a specific task for each participant.
- Some role-playing cue ideas include: playing a sport, building something, and working in an emergency room.
- Some location-based directions ideas include: in the staff lounge, in a deep-water ditch, or in an abandoned amusement park.
- Have the whole class come together for each group's 1-2 minute silent performances.
Step 5. Conclude the session dramatically
Have everyone take turns saying goodbye to class. Here's the catch: each student will have to say something different and the others will have to act (by voice and demeanor) as they say goodbye. Remind everyone that the more dramatic it is, the better.
- To cheer up your classmates, try it yourself first.
- Say something simple like "I love theater!", But raise your arms and pronounce the phrase loud and very well as if you were an opera singer. Bow to emphasize the prayer.
Method 2 of 4: Perform Improv Exercises
Step 1. Develop improv lessons prominently
Improv exercises are very beneficial for theater students of all experience levels. They facilitate acting skills, for example, the comfort to perform various roles, the ability to read and interact with others to act, clear expression and instinctive decision-making. They can also be used for stage actors to train to stay calm no matter what!
- Make sure to include several improv exercises during a class session so that you shape them around various themes.
- It touches on topics that explicitly facilitate voice work, body work, impromptu interaction, and even confidence building.
Step 2. Do any improv exercises
Call out an additional rule that should be incorporated into an exercise when students are in the middle of the performance. Explain the rules at the beginning of the course: When you indicate a recognizable phrase, students will need to incorporate the associated rule into whatever they are already doing.
- Try “memory leak” to signal to everyone that they should act as if they just forgot what they were doing and that they need to figure it out again.
- Use "the world ends tomorrow" to add some frenzied (and especially dramatic) events to an exercise.
- Another classic and simple option is “slow motion”, which refers to acting more jokingly as “the amorphous monster”.
Step 3. Incorporate the amorphous monster attack
For example, yell "The amorphous monster is attacking us!" in order to indicate that a viscous imaginary monster has entered the room, it has hit everyone and that caused them to act slowly impairing the ability to speak and movements.
- Specifies that improvisational qualifiers, such as the amorphous monster, cannot be addressed verbally within the narrative of the exercise.
- Students just need to incorporate a new makeshift rule through acting.
Step 4. Have students converse using sounds instead of words
Have the students sit in a circle, all together or in small groups. One student will begin the exercise by addressing another and "saying" something that makes no sense at all, perhaps not even using real words. Then have the receiver turn to the next person and try to reflect the first student's "sentence" in some way.
- Tell students that they can incorporate real sounds of each other, inflections, or just speed when making sounds.
- Likewise, it indicates that accents, exaggerations and intonations can be imitated or transformed and that the exercise will help in the expansion of the vocal creativity of each one.
Step 5. Instruct the students to converse without any sound
Do the same type of exercise with a completely non-auditory version of communication. Get students to act out emotionally charged scenes silently. Ask them to use easy expressions and body language to represent how they feel about an imagined situation.
- Develop events on stage in order to change the emotions of the participants.
- Instruct them to avoid any word articulation or exaggerated arm movements as these are very easy to do.
Step 6. Return to word-based communication by having students speak in groups
Gather students into small group circles and tell someone in particular to think of a sentence but not share it with the group. Have that person slowly start to make the sound of the first word and have everyone else join in to make the sound.
- The person mentioning the sentence will then move on to the next sound.
- Slowly and steadily, the group will come to say the whole sentence.
- In the process, they will learn to read and anticipate the expression of someone else's voice. It will apparently anticipate someone else's mind!
Method 3 of 4: Teach Theater as Part of a Curriculum
Step 1. Recognize the value of theater in education
Whether you are tasked with teaching drama classes at your school or interested in incorporating drama into a lesson in a different discipline, it can help you to recognize the strengths that are associated with theater education. For example, teaching theater makes it easy to learn lessons that would otherwise be nearly impossible to teach in a classroom.
Keep in mind that role-playing settings or even political and social settings will allow students to consider more fully the topics you want them to be more familiar with
Step 2. Start and participate in plays with your students
This will help present or explore diverse perspectives on important and multifaceted topics. You can do this at each level of education since the content of almost any discussion (at least in most disciplines) can be explored through role plays.
Hold discussions in which students assume characters that reflect assigned or chosen roles. This will allow them to more freely convey their thoughts across the screen of an adapted character
Step 3. Get help from web pages and theater teaching guides
Have you been asked to teach a theater course or ordered to include a theatrical element in your study plans despite an obvious lack of experience? Not sure where to start? Fortunately, there is quite a bit of help available online in terms of specific activities and even complete study plans.
- You should know that most of the materials that are designed to help people teach theater do not assume that the instructor has had a lot (or some) experience. Most will walk you through everything you need to know!
- If you hope to incorporate role plays into a specific type of course, such as language teaching, you can find guides tailored to those activities.
Step 4. Get free curricula, ideas and more
Organizations, including state government education departments and other nonprofit organizations, have developed age-specific drama class curricula from preschool through high school. For example, the Kentucky Department of Education has developed a comprehensive set of drama curricula that are freely available online. For additional guidance on activity ideas and curriculum you can visit the following web pages:
- Theatrefolk has quite a few sets for various groups, as well as lessons and tips on acting and all the other elements of a theatrical production.
- The Drama Resource website is easy to navigate and offers all kinds of games to play during drama classes, as well as other resources that are also available in the Drama Resource app.
- BYU-hosted Theater Education Database provides resources to help theater teachers make lesson plans and more.
Step 5. Recognize how teaching drama will improve your skills as a teacher
Hopefully, you won't be too concerned about appearing unprofessional or too playful in front of your students. If so, reflect on whether those feelings come from a feeling of nervousness about teaching something you've never taught before. Recognize the fact that teaching theater will inevitably increase your own skills and enjoyment of acting. Also, participating in drama exercises together will increase the comfort and ease with which you and your students interact.
- Conceptualize your role as being part of an experience from which everyone will learn.
- Stick to activities that you feel comfortable participating in. If in doubt, start with some simple role-play exercises.
- As the course progresses, you are likely to be more willing to try new exercises!
Step 6. Be patient with your students
If you teach drama as part of a curriculum that requires it, recognize that some students may not want to be there. Never force students who are shy or reluctant to participate. Instead, ask them to contribute by commenting on the performance of the other students and offering ideas on how to act in some other way.
By asking a student to talk about the performance of an event, you will encourage him to come closer so that in the end he will. Then very soon you will have a classroom full of stars
Method 4 of 4: Maintain Good Behavior in a Drama Class
Step 1. Establish specific rules for your drama class
Maintaining good behavior in drama class can be a bit more difficult than it is in any other type of class in which students are actually encouraged to play dumb. Set some rules that are specific to your class and that help you prevent and respond to any behavior problems.
- Encourage students to take part in developing the standards. Ask them what they think the class rules should be, and post ideas that you agree with.
- Include rules like "Always be kind and cooperative" and "Encourage each other to be creative."
Step 2. Specify the consequences of bad behavior and always impose them
Students will test limits, especially in drama class where dramatic behavior will literally be encouraged. When a student breaks a specific rule that everyone knows, quickly stop the class and address the problem.
Consistency and speed are important here. Stop bad behavior before it escalates or spreads so your class doesn't get out of hand
Step 3. Get creative with "punishments."
Responds to misbehavior with imaginative, learning-oriented punishments that discourage what the student did. For example, have the student who broke the rule skip the next exercise and think about why he shouldn't have acted as he did. Before he gets back together with the group, have him pantomime his bad behavior and then act out the good behavior that the rest of the class should maintain.
- Alternatively, ask for an “actor promise” from a student who broke a rule. This is especially good for a student who is hesitant to participate in acting exercises.
- Have the student prepare and give a statement after not participating and exercising. Encourage him to act sorry (or be funny), and ask him to make a specific promise in honor of the class and his classmates that he will keep going.