Unless you have perfect timing, when you’re producing a show with your students, you will be performing it at a different time of year than what the show is set in. For example, you might be performing Almost, Maine in April (when the show is set in the winter) or Disney’s High School Musical 2 in February (when the show is about summer vacation). Even if it’s snowing inside, you’ll need to make the audience feel as though they’ve entered a tropical destination (or vice versa).
So, how do you make different types of weather come alive, either onstage or onscreen? Lots of different ways! Let’s explore them with your students.
This is a fun game that the whole class can do, in person (at a distance if needed) or online (mics on — video optional). The class will work together to make a soundscape of rain sounds. No talking allowed!
The teacher will lead and the students will follow by watching and listening. Start with the full class gently rubbing their hands together, to mimic the wind. Slowly transition to tapping one finger on the palm of your hand. Add all four fingers, then move to gentle finger snapping, representing the pitter-patter of raindrops. The rain will get heavier as the class moves towards clapping, then a full out thunderstorm with stomping feet on the floor or slapping the floor with your hands. Then, move back through the actions in reverse as the storm goes away and the rain gets lighter and lighter. Ask your students: How could a soundscape like this be used to create atmosphere in a scene? What other sounds or actions could be included?
There are lots of ways students can use technical elements to show the weather in their performances, including:
Distance Learning Quick Challenge: Give your students four minutes to find four different “things” around their home they could use to represent each of the four seasons. For example, they might grab a pair of rubber boots to represent a rainy spring, the song “Summer Nights” from Grease to represent hot summer weather, a rake to represent raking leaves in autumn, and a GIF of a snowstorm for a virtual background image to represent winter. (Feel free to adapt as appropriate to your local climate and weather trends!)
Of course, students don’t even need any technical elements to depict the weather; they can demonstrate or react to weather through performance techniques. Try the following prompts with your students:
Physical Acting** :** Have students mime the actions that match the weather.
Voice Only: Give students a short line to say while trying the following vocal techniques, such as, “Isn’t this weather something else?”
Once students have practiced the two separate techniques (physical and vocal), have them combine physical actions with vocal techniques to create a mini solo scene. Have them start with the line, “Isn’t this weather something else?” and then improvise two more sentences to follow up.
Extension Challenge: Have students combine physical actions, vocal techniques, and at least one technical element to make a mini performance. Start with, “Isn’t this weather something else?” and write or improvise four additional lines, interacting with their technical element in some way. You may wish for students to perform live, or to record their performances and submit them to you. Have students present their mini performances for the rest of the class.