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Introduction to Improvisation and Set Improvisation.

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Keywords: Improvisation, movement, facial expressions, drama.
Subject(s): Drama
Grades 3 through 5
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
View Full Text of Standards
School: P.S. 239 Officer Ramon Suarez, Ridgewood, NY
Planned By: Matthew Jacobs
Original Author: Matthew Jacobs, Ridgewood
MATERIALS REQUIRED: Basic simple props. A chair, maybe a table, pencil etc.
PERFORMANCE SKILLS TAUGHT: Use of the body and voice expressively. To make choices as actors. To work as a team. To share the spotlight when performing.

1.) Student will be able to improvise, two person scenes.
2.) Students learn the fundamentals behind three – four person improvisations.
3.) Students can create a set improvisation and focus through class performance.
4.) Students can critique each other’s work following Notice, like and wish.

The teacher begins asking for a partner. He tells the class one character will be thinking that a fictional character is real. Ex. Scooby Do while the other person is trying to talk them out of this. Teacher models how to improvise with students by prompting and asking questions. Teacher asks the students how did they know what to say. We conclude that improvisation is a ping-pong match. Several students try a different two person scenes changing the subject. Students are then introduced to a scene at home with two siblings fighting over a remote. Eventually a parent walks in and then another parent. We talk about the dynamics of improvisation and how one person can’t dominate the scene. Students also do several other improvisations practicing different enter and exit points.

Students are grouped with scene partners to attempt a set improvisation. (When you practice an improvisation scene) Students are instructed not to memorize lines, only to get comfortable with their partners and rehearse entrances, exits ands use of the classroom.

EVALUATION- The students acting choices were clear to us as an audience by demonstrating one or all of the following:
1.) Movement,
2.) Facial expression,
3.) Verbal communication,
4.) Verbal communication with a partner
5.) Uses of certain props.

1.) Grouping of partners. High-level readers generally have a higher vocabulary then lower level readers. Group higher-level readers with lower level reader during the partner improvisation portion of the scene to elevate the lower level students.
2.) Modeling an acting activity helps visual learners elevate their performance by seeing a professional demonstration first.

CONCLUDING ACTIVITY: Students are able to focus through set improvisation performance. Students learn how to properly critique a scene with notice, like and wish.

I am a first year theatre teacher with a truck load of experience trying to incorporate film into the theatre program. My students are writing films and producing them on a flip camera but we are very limited with equipment and software. Any software or extra film equipment is greatly appreciated.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Improvisation lesson can connect to science and social studies. Ex. Pick a time in history that you are studying and improvise what these people would talk about during that era.
Students learn how to write screenplays and use improvisation to develop their dialogue for the movie as well as develop their characters.
Materials: Flip Video, Point and Shoot, Auditorium, Microphones, PA Systems, DVD/VCR Players, CDs and DVDs, Flash/USB Drives, Tripods, Batteries, Memory Cards, Headsets, Screen Capture, Video Tools