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Exercise: The Tech Effect

The purpose of this group exercise is to see how technical effects can change the mood and atmosphere of a performed scene. Students will have the opportunity to perform and observe others, while figuring out two simple yet creative technical effects using only resources available in the drama classroom. They are also challenged to keep their acting consistent between the two presentations of the scene, without letting the change in technical effects change their performance.


1. Students will form small groups and each will prepare a short scene (1-2 pages). Scenes can be performed with script in hand or memorized, as time permits/teacher wishes. You can find some great two-person scenes and group scenes on our Free Resources page.

2. Each group must use a simple yet clear technical effect in their scene, using resources available in the classroom. Some examples might include:

    • Dimming the classroom lights
    • Background music played on someone’s smartphone
    • A few simple props from around the room or their own personal items
    • Having one group member make live sound effects using found objects

3. Each group will present the scene for the rest of the class.

4. Each group will then present the scene again, without changing any blocking, acting choices, voice volume, and so on. This time, however, they must create an entirely different effect while using the same equipment (lights, music, props). Using the above examples:

    • Dimming the classroom lights > performing with very bright lights, or entirely in the dark
    • Background music > performing with no music, or with music of a totally different genre (classical vs. disco vs. EDM vs. rap)
    • Using a few simple props > miming props
    • Having one group member make sound effects > no sound effects, or exaggerated sound effects, or sound effects at different times (a “boing” sound when someone stands up, for example)

5. After all the students have presented twice, they will discuss and/or write a reflection on the following questions:

    • For the students performing: How did the group decide what technical effect to use in their scene? How did changing the effect between the two performances change the scene? Was it easy or difficult to keep the scene consistent with the change in technical effects?
    • For the students observing: How did the scene change with the change in technical effect? How was the mood or atmosphere different? Did the effect add to the scene, or distract from it? Which technical choice worked better for the scene? What might they have done differently?
Click here for a free Reflection and Participation Rubric.
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