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1.  Eye focus - help with a student

Posted 01-14-2018 20:16
I need some help with bringing a student's eyes back to where they need to be. Whenever she's onstage, her eyes literally focus on the ceiling 50% of the time.  She looks around 25% of the time and only at the person she's supposed to be talking to 25% of the time.  I've tried everything I can think of to help bring her eyes back to the people in her scenes, from auditory reminders, to stopping and restarting.  Any ideas?  Thanks!

Lana Thompson
Sugarland TX

2.  RE: Eye focus - help with a student

Posted 01-15-2018 05:57

When I have had problems that extreme with eye focus, it has usually been a developmental issue (I have a boy now, on the spectrum, always looking away, I consider it a victory if I can get him to mostly look at his partner during a scene). If it is, tread lightly, and know that she may never be able to do it, but praise her for the effort and for every little bit she does. If it is not developmental, and it is not corrected  by what you have done so far, it is probably emotional. Again, tread lightly, but maybe start by having a private one on one discussion with her about it - why does she think she can't put her focus where it needs to be? 

Sorry, that's not an answer, but I hope it helps. It's the sort of problem, where if it isn't fixed just by a giving the note a few times, then it is usually an expression of a larger issue. 

Jeffrey Davis
Plainsboro NJ

3.  RE: Eye focus - help with a student

Posted 01-15-2018 08:12
When I taught Social Skills, one of the things we worked on was the concept that people think you’re thinking about what you are looking at. If you are looking at the ceiling, people will think you’re thinking about the ceiling or something NOT what you are supposed to be thinking about. I applied this when directing plays, and it really seemed to help focus the eye positions.

Kathleen Tissot
Brooklyn, WI

4.  RE: Eye focus - help with a student

Posted 01-15-2018 08:42
I have had this problem before. I had an actress who was wonderful but never looked her scene partner in the eye. She didn't even realize what she was doing. We worked with her and scene partner on a physical contact exercise. Every time they said a line they touched (high five, shoulder touch, etc), then we went up from there to every noun, every verb, etc.  It took a lot of time but the actress broke the ha it of not making eye contact and we haven't had that problem since.

Erienne Wredt
Drama Teacher
Omaha NE

5.  RE: Eye focus - help with a student

Posted 01-15-2018 15:29
If she is able to remember her lines at the same time, ask her to count the freckles on the person's cheeks, or focus on the color of the person's eyes, style of his/her eyebrows, eyelashes, etc. Tell her she has to report to you after the show with the answers.