Can you tell a great story in six minutes? How about in six seconds? You definitely can. Prior to TikTok, there was Vine — a short-form video hosting app where users created and shared six-second-long looping videos. Even within the limit of six seconds, creators were able to make fascinating and funny content to entertain and educate their viewers.
The following exercise challenges students to make a scene and tell a story in only six seconds. They have to make quick, precise decisions and get to the point right away. And of course, they have to be clear and easily understood by the audience.
Your students can choose to either create and perform a live six-second scene, or create, film, and edit a six-second video. Whichever medium they choose must be exactly six seconds — no more, no less — and it will be timed.
- Timing device
- Paper and writing utensils for brainstorming, scripting, and storyboarding
- Smartphone and editing software (if students are making a video)
- 4–5 classes (1 class for introduction/planning, 1 class for scripting, 1–2 classes for rehearsal/filming, 1 class for presentations)
1. Divide students into small groups (3–4 students per group).
2. Using a timer, demonstrate exactly how long six seconds is. You can do a lot in six seconds! Have your students try some simple actions, such as writing a sentence or tying their shoe, and see if they can do them in six seconds.
3. Groups will plan and write an outline for their six-second scene, answering the questions below. Their scene can be about anything they wish. It can be funny, tragic, educational, moody, thought-provoking — it just has to fit within the time frame exactly.
- What is the story of the scene? Describe it in one sentence. Be precise and specific.
- What is the mood of the scene?
- Will the scene be performed live or on video?
- What is each person’s role in the scene? (Each student must participate onstage/onscreen somehow as well as contribute to the script, staging, mise en scene, etc.)
- What physically happens in the scene? Describe it sentence by sentence. (For example: John enters stage right. He picks up a banana and eats it. He throws the peel on the ground. Rosa enters and slips on the banana peel.)
- Where is the scene set?
- What costumes and props are needed for the scene?
- Note any additional details.
4. Groups will submit their outlines for approval.
5. Once each group’s outline has been approved, groups will write their scripts and rehearse their scenes (and films, as necessary). Groups must use a timer to ensure that their creations are exactly six seconds long. Check in with each group to ensure that they aren’t speaking too quickly in order to cram more content in.
6. Each group will present their live scene or video.
7. Each group member will submit a one-page reflection response to the following questions:
- How were you an effective group member throughout this process?
- What was one thing you learned doing this exercise?
- How would your scene have been different if you had chosen the other medium for presentation? (I.e., if you did a live performance, how would your scene have been different if you had done a video and vice versa.)
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.Want to find out more about our newest plays, resources and giveaways?
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