Open Forum

All Middle School Boys

  • 1.  All Middle School Boys

    Posted 01-08-2019 11:02
    I usually have between 15-25 kids in my middle school drama classes. Due to scheduling issues with Health class, I have ended up with 5 students this semester...all boys, 4 8th grade, 1 7th grade. Everyday of the week for a 50 minute period. I have had challenges with this age before, especially boys only taking the elective out of process of elimination or thinking it's an easy A, and of course, being in a class where they are asked to be creative, physical, and expressive while they are highly distracted by self discovery.  These particular boys seems great and "game."  I just really want to get the most out of the class as possible.  Any thoughts?

  • 2.  RE: All Middle School Boys

    Posted 01-08-2019 11:50
    It might be hard to find a quality script for just five boys (at least I can't think of one).  But I have a couple of thoughts.
    (1)  Look for some monologues or short scenes that are appropriate and relevant to them to either present to each other in class or, better yet, to parents and friends who are invited in for an evening.  This exposes them to the style of playwriting, performance techniques, memorization techniques, and the rehearsal process.
    (2)  Ask them what issues concern them in their school.  Then have them brainstorm and come up with a storyline that deals with their most prevalent concerns, which they can then develop into a play. This could also be performed at an evening event for parents and friends. Besides learning about play structure and the production process, they learn how to collaborate to achieve a common goal.
    Best wishes.

    Terry McGonigle
    Operations Manager
    the John Legend Theater
    Springfield, OH

  • 3.  RE: All Middle School Boys

    Posted 01-08-2019 17:09
    I am loving this advice!  Thank you!!

  • 4.  RE: All Middle School Boys

    Posted 01-08-2019 13:37
    Slow motion fight scenes. They could create their own by creating characters, deciding why they are fighting, and also show the set up and the consequences of the fight. They could also enact fight scenes from movies.

    You could also teach them some basic stage combat as well.

    Ken Buswell
    Drama Teacher
    Peachtree City, GA

    Theater kills ignorance

  • 5.  RE: All Middle School Boys

    Posted 01-08-2019 15:07
    I love this idea!

    Stephen Gregg
    Venice CA

  • 6.  RE: All Middle School Boys

    Posted 01-09-2019 11:11
    I second the idea of slo-mo fight scene. I'm producing The Bullying Collection from Playscripts and in one of the vignettes, Uprising, there is a slo-mo fight scene which we are actually working on in class right now. I pulled a bunch of stage combat videos from YouTube and we spent a couple of weeks learning the basics, and now they are working on what fight moves to include based on their characters and the layout of who-goes-where-when that I provided.

    Here's links to some of the videos we used.
    This was my inspiration: Slow Motion Ninja Fight

    This gal has some really great videos that cover lots of aspects of unarmed stage combat: Unarmed Stage Combat : Stage Combat: Safety

    And my middle schoolers really liked this guy's videos too: Acting Tips: Stage Combat for Plays : Positioning for Audience in Stage Combat

    Nickie Alexander
    Bellevue WA

  • 7.  RE: All Middle School Boys

    Posted 01-09-2019 07:57

    I have had this exact situation with one exception.... there were 12 boys, not 5.  

    What worked for us was classic comedic scenes.  We looked at mime (a la Buster Keaton and Chaplin), slap-stick (Three Stooges) and Abbott and Costello. They identified what they thought was funny and went online (SUPERVISED) to find modern corollaries. The guys loved it and found things from today that echoed everything we looked at in class. We discussed how comedy was built (e.g. how Abbott and Costello can get 10 minutes out of Who's On First with the same bit over and over again) and their observations about voice and physicality were on-point.  They also were able to try their hand at each form we looked at. They had some success, too- most notably with Abbott and Costello's  7 x 13 = 28 which they obtained permission to perform in a few sixth grade math classrooms where the teachers worked the 'bad math' into their lessons. 

    Suzanne Katz
    Washington DC

  • 8.  RE: All Middle School Boys

    Posted 01-09-2019 08:22

    If you are doing a stage combat unit, you can do the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet. Abraham, Sampson, Gregory, Tybalt, Benvolio. (Cut Balthasar. He doesn't have any lines anyway.) I start with the thumb biting and end with the Tybalt/Benvolio fight. You can trim the dialogue a bit. We use cut pool noodles for swords. My middle-schoolers love it.

    Jennifer Bennett

    Drama Director

    Markham Woods Middle School

    6003 Markham Woods Road

    Lake Mary, FL 32810

    (407) 871-1750

    [Florida has a very broad Public Records Law. Virtually all written communications to or from School District Personnel are public records available to the public and media upon request. E-mail sent or received on the School District system will be considered public and will only be withheld from disclosure if deemed confidential pursuant to State Law.]

  • 9.  RE: All Middle School Boys

    Posted 01-09-2019 11:39
    Superhero costume design - there are websites that help with this too if you can incorporate technology.  I often would tie this in to cosplay techniques and have them create a mask, helmet, or other piece of "armor" using paper, tape, foam, etc.

    All superheroes (and supervillains for that matter) need monologues.  Have them use the original character they created to write a monologue to their nemesis.  You can find examples of these in practically ANY superhero movie.

    Keith Rollins
    Chatsworth GA

  • 10.  RE: All Middle School Boys

    Posted 01-10-2019 09:33
    Ooh! Do a professional wrestling unit! Hear me out, first. I went to a great workshop at thescon called Act Like a Professional Wrestler (or something close to that name). The instructor talked about how much of it is choosing a persona. So, the kids could decide to be a heel or a face (here's the a list of definitions: They come up with a name, persona and backstory. Each heel and face should also come up with a feud – why are they enemies? Each wrestler also comes up with a finisher. Then they come up with promos centered around their feuds. Search youtube for wrestling promos (here's one of my favorites: For an exercise, they could recreate a promo on youtube before creating their own. After all of this, you could do the build up to a match – intros and entrances into the ring, the wrestlers trying to taunt the crowd (if they're a heel) or hype up the crowd (if they're a face).

    I'm sure there's a lot more you could do with this, and if any of the boys are wrestling fans, they'll have plenty of ideas!

    Ken Buswell
    Drama Teacher
    Peachtree City, GA

    Theater kills ignorance

  • 11.  RE: All Middle School Boys

    Posted 01-10-2019 10:15
    Love that idea. Were you to use it, you might glance at Pulitzer-finalist The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, by friend-of-Thespians Kristoffer Diaz, which is about a young man's journey to being a professional wrestler. The play's too advanced for your boys, but there are bits to be mined, as well as the implicit lesson that you can make art out of anything.