Open Forum

Social Distance in the Acting Classroom

  • 1.  Social Distance in the Acting Classroom

    Posted 06-08-2020 14:24
    Hi all! I'm already thinking about how I'll be able to transition my classes to a virtual classroom next year, but I know we will likely also have in-person class sessions where we have to maintain social distance. Many of you will likely be in the same situation, so I'm hoping people can share some activities that can work with students staying 6 ft apart. I'll start with my initial thoughts, but everyone else please contribute, too!


    1. Solo improvisations & physical action
    2. Viewpoints
    3. LABAN
    4. Devising
    5. Creating stage pictures through depth, levels, triangles
    6. Maybe some comedy of manners style exercises where we have to stay 6 ft apart? Chekhov style exercises are also great for maintaining distance). The Acting With Style book is an oldie but a goodie.
    7. Obviously monologues, but my seniors are supposed to be working on scenes. (Though doing scenes with the handicap of having to stay 6 ft apart and not being able to touch could be an interesting challenge.)
    8. Audition prep
    9. Commercial/film acting
    10. Naturally text/character analysis, imagination exercises, rehearsal journal, etc. but that's more for homework than in-class.

    I'd LOVE specific games, exercises, or strategies that you're thinking about using in your own classrooms.

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    Cassy Maxton-Whitacre
    Theatre Department Coordinator
    Fishersville VA
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  • 2.  RE: Social Distance in the Acting Classroom

    Posted 06-09-2020 09:02
    Yes to this! I learned at my faculty meeting yesterday that our auditorium will be a classroom because it's one of the two largest rooms in our small school. No surprise, but still hard to hear. All of us in the arts will also be teaching all of the middle school in a rotation of arts next year, rather than with students who have chosen our disciplines as an elective. That makes for a very different class make-up. So...I'm looking for exercises/activities/games and curriculum material that is particularly low-risk for those students who are anxious or disinclined to be in a theatre class to begin with.

    Can we start a Google doc for this or is there another way to have an easy-access source for our collective input to go? I'm definitely going to be doing radio plays and working with our music teacher for student-compositions to include. It will be a sound-rich year in theatre for me.

    Other things to consider/include
    Shadow puppets - other puppets
    Greek theatre work with masks (sigh)
    Flocking work if you have a big space where kids can move would be safe for social distancing
    Storytelling

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    Patti Veconi
    Brooklyn NY
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  • 3.  RE: Social Distance in the Acting Classroom

    Posted 06-09-2020 13:17
    Hi Patti,
    I too teach middle school drama and already teach the entire school, (6th, 7th and 8th) by trimester with 300 students every trimester (100 in each grade).  This spring trimester was all distance learning but thinking we might go back in the fall I am asking some of the same questions.

    My curriculum looked like this, this spring because I cut out all partner work:
    6th - audience etiquette, solo pantomime, voice work and monologues
    7th - monologues, theatre history (Primitive to Renaissance), lip synch
    8th - famous speech, theatre history (Renaissance to Broadway), elements of directing

    I would love to add a radio play next year and hear how others are planning socially distancing activities for drama.  Very interested in the google doc.
    Debby Shellard
    Attea Middle School
    Glenview, Illinois

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    Deborah Shellard
    Drama Teacher
    Attea Middle School
    Glenview IL
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  • 4.  RE: Social Distance in the Acting Classroom

    Posted 06-10-2020 08:35
    Okay, I started a Google Doc! Let me know if anyone has trouble accessing it.

    Social Distancing in the Acting Classroom

    ------------------------------
    Cassy Maxton-Whitacre
    Theatre Department Coordinator
    Fishersville VA
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Social Distance in the Acting Classroom

    Posted 06-10-2020 16:59
    Thank you for starting this!

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    Sandra Davisson
    Venice FL
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  • 6.  RE: Social Distance in the Acting Classroom

    Posted 06-11-2020 16:15
    I've been doing Rasaboxes with my Solo Performance elective (my advanced acting elective rotate -- feeling really thankful that it's Solo Performance next year!). I think this exercise could still work as long as the boxes are bigger than usual.

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    Cora Turlish
    Metuchen NJ
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  • 7.  RE: Social Distance in the Acting Classroom

    Posted 06-12-2020 09:57
    Thank you for creating this Doc, Cassy!

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    [Jen] [Jordan]
    [Director of Theater and Dance]
    [Junior Class and Day Student Advisor]
    [Miss Hall's School]
    [Pittsfield] [MA]
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Social Distance in the Acting Classroom

    Posted 07-16-2020 21:27
    Hi Cassy,

    How about mask work with found object masks (since they can't share). It is a great way to physicalize need and intention AND using the space apart to work on tension in scenes.

    Off the top of my head, you can also use the mimed gift exercise (not sure what it is called) You give a wrapped gift (all mimed) to a partner in a circle. They receive it and say, "Thank you!" then they open it up and use the gift in a way that is active. It's a bit like charades except it's not so much about everyone guessing what it is as much as it's an exercise in clarity of gesture. After they use the object they then give a gift to the next person. The gift can be any size and the size of the object in the gift box should not be altered so that each person can react more spontaneously to whatever they discover inside the gift. Hope that's a help!

    ------------------------------
    [Jen] [Jordan]
    [Director of Theater and Dance]
    [Junior Class and Day Student Advisor]
    [Miss Hall's School]
    [Pittsfield] [MA]
    ------------------------------