DTA | Big Picture Blocking: Staging Your Play Outside-In
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Big Picture Blocking: Staging Your Play Outside-In

Created by Todd Espeland

Working in educational theatre I know how easy it is to get bogged down in actor coaching and away from the bigger picture storytelling when directing a show. I saw a need for a method of text analysis and physical staging tools that help the director stay focused on the bigger picture of telling the story of the play.

This class is in two parts: The first consists of the text analysis tools P.A.S.T.O and Major Dramatic Question. From these tools you will brainstorm keywords to define your vision of the story.

In the second part of the class you will focus on taking the information generated in the text analysis and crafting the ideas into vibrant physical pictures through an exercise called Starburst.

10 Modules
2 hours, 3 minutes
6 Credit Hours

Course Outline

Lesson 1: Introduction 4:49 FREE PREVIEW
Lesson 2: Warmups 11:46 FREE PREVIEW
This module covers the importance of warmups for both your body and mind in the theatre classroom. Warmups help to lay the foundation for what you are going to do next. Two specific warmup examples are introduced and demonstrated.
Lesson 3: PASTO 17:40
Learn this method of text analysis that will help you identify the major pillars of storytelling in the play and to come up with ideas to help conceive the play and actually put the play into production.
Lesson 4: Keywords 15:22
Keywords create specific ideas that you can then implement on-stage to tell the story of the play.
Lesson 5: PASTO & Hamlet 18:40
This module takes what you’ve learned about PASTO and Keywords and gives you concrete examples using Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Lesson 6: Starburst 10:56
Starburst is going to consist of learning a series of design elements that are used in dance and that are used in visual arts. These design elements are intended to create harmony, direction, tension, and storytelling within your pictures.
Lesson 7: Starburst: Part Two 14:52
This module continues on with the tools of the “Starburst” model.
Lesson 8: Building Pictures 13:05
This module reviews the elements of Starburst and then walks the viewer through actually building pictures using the elements such as repetition and filling space.
Lesson 9: Starbust, PASTO & Hamlet 10:04
This module continues to build on the work done with PASTO, Hamlet and Starburst. You’re offered concrete examples of the exercises as well as side coaching information.
Lesson 10: Wrap Up 5:57
A review of the tools presented in this class that will help you to become a visionary director and craft plays that are vibrant and are exciting worlds for your actors to play in and for your audience to experience.

Standards Addressed

National Core Arts Standards

Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work - Grade 6

TH:Cr1.1.6.a - Identify possible solutions to staging challenges in a drama/theatre work.

Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation - Grade 7

TH:Pr4.1.7.a - Consider various staging choices to enhance the story in a drama/theatre work.

Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work - High School Proficient

TH:Cr1.1.HSI.a - Apply basic research to construct ideas about the visual composition of a drama/theatre work.

Organize and develop artistic ideas and work - Grade HS Accomplished

TH:Cr2.1.HSII.b - Cooperate as a creative team to make interpretive choices for a drama/theatre work.

Refine new work through play, drama processes and theatre experiences using critical analysis and experimentation - Grade 8

TH:Cr3.1.8.a - Use repetition and analysis in order to revise devised or scripted drama/theatre work.

California VAPA Standards (2019)

6.TH:Cr1 Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work

6.TH:Cr1.a - Identify possible solutions to staging challenges in a drama/theatre work.

7.TH:Pr4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

7.TH:Pr4.a - Consider various staging choices to enhance the story in a drama/theatre work.

Georgia Performance Standards 2017 - Theatre Arts

Tennessee Theatre Curriculum Standards

Tennessee Theatre standards (2018) standards were built using the framework of the NCAS which is built on four key domains: Creating, Performing/Presenting/Producing, Connecting, and Responding. Within each of these domains are foundations and standards to support the development of curriculum, programs, and learning.
(source: Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Academic Standards for Fine Arts, Summer 2018)

Please refer to National Core Arts Standards to determine the standard that best suits your needs.

Alberta, Canada

British Columbia (2018)

GRADE 9 - DRAMA - Reasoning and reflecting

Receive, offer, and apply constructive feedback

GRADE 10 - DRAMA - Connect and expand

Demonstrate respect for self, others, and the audience

GRADE 11 - DRAMA - Reason and reflect

Demonstrate awareness of self, others, and audience

GRADE 11 - DRAMA - Connect and expand

Demonstrate awareness of self, others, and audience

GRADE 12 - DRAMA - Connect and expand

Demonstrate respect for self, others, and audience

Ontario, Canada

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