This unit is meant to be an introductory crash course in Meisner techniques that are targeted to younger students. It serves as an overview and a “dip in the pool” of what Meisner is about. Many times, students don’t get past the initial repetition exercises; this unit goes a couple steps beyond so that students can begin to get a true taste of the nature of Meisner training.
We are skipping many steps of Meisner training to get to some actual scene and monologue work using the basics of what preliminary Meisner work can open up for your actors. Going through this unit will give your students a good grounding in acting in the moment and playing off one’s partner as well as more confidence in trusting their impulses.
The overview lays out the structure of the unit, including lesson format, activity choice, materials and assessment.
Students will make discoveries about truth in acting. They will also do some exercises where they must make a spontaneous rather than a preplanned response for the exercise to be successful.
Students will start the process of letting go of their need to control the moment and learn to let moments happen.
Students will continue to use repetition exercises to learn how to be present and work off their partner. They will begin to “tune” to identifying the reactions of others.
Students will use repetition to start working off of one another. This time, they will add observations of each other’s behavior. They will learn about how to select a task for the next step of acting work. Adding tasks will help students practice the duality of reacting and doing at the same time.
Students will do some improvisations with repetition and tasks in order to practice the duality of reacting and doing at the same time.
Students will learn some Meisner-based techniques for preparing for acting monologues and scenes.
Students will put their preparation together with fully doing an activity and playing off their partner in scenework.
TH.912.C.1.2 - Create, refine, and sustain complex and believable characters for performance through the integration and application of artistic choices based on research, rehearsal, feedback, and refinement.
TA6.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Identify artistic choices, utilize theatre vocabulary, and demonstrate non-verbal communication skills in the rehearsal process.
b. Interpret a character’s motivation by understanding the relationship between their background and their behavior.
c. Identify the variety of relationships between characters.
d. Identify, define, and classify character traits.
e. Recognize and demonstrate the roles, responsibilities, and skills associated with collaborative performance.
f. Use resources to identify and create technical elements of theatre.
TA6.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Demonstrate effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills (e.g. rate, pitch, volume, inflection, posture, facial expression, physical movement).
b. Execute character creation in a performance.
c. Demonstrate a variety of types of theatre performances.
TA7.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Identify and rehearse effective communication skills.
b. Compare and contrast character types and relationships by analyzing character motivations, objectives, and goals.
c. Compare the physical, emotional, vocal, and social dimensions of a character.
d. Investigate the role and responsibility of the cast and crew.
e. Identify and model ensemble skills in the rehearsal process.
f. Utilize staging and blocking choices to enhance the performance.
g. Compare, contrast, and design elements of technical theatre.
h. Utilize theatre vocabulary throughout the rehearsal process.
TA7.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Execute effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills in performance (e.g. rate, pitch, volume, inflection, posture, facial expression, physical movement).
b. Participate in a variety of acting exercises and techniques that can be applied in a rehearsal or theatre performance.
c. Engage in various performance styles.
TA8.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Demonstrate the physical, emotional, vocal, and social dimensions of a character in different types of theatre performances (e.g. rate, pitch, volume, inflection, posture, facial expression, motivation, physical movement).
b. Demonstrate appropriate ensemble skills throughout a performance.
c. Use appropriate listening and response skills during performances.
TAHSA.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Use script analysis in the development and presentation of formal and informal theatre performances.
b. Examine various theories of dramatic structure.
c. Engage in and apply meaningful cultural, literary, and historical research to create acting choices or directorial concepts.
TAHSA.PR.1 - Act and direct by communicating and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
a. Examine and implement the voice, body, observation, and imagination as tools of the actor in presentations of formal and informal theatre.
b. Research and assess the development of acting skills for character creation and performance including historical movements, personal experience, and cultural influences.
c. Act by developing, communicating, and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
d. Identify and examine the responsibilities and tasks of an actor in relationship with directors, designers, and technical crew.
e. Use the skills and tools of a director to conduct rehearsals for performance.
TAHSAD.PR.1 - Act and direct by communicating and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
a. Examine and implement the skills and tasks associated with acting, incorporating voice, body, observation, and imagination to create characters for formal and informal performances.
b. Implement the duties of the stage manager, including communication and safety procedures, that will assist the director in all areas of production.
c. Develop a schedule and organizational plan to prepare a scene for performance, including a rehearsal schedule and a prompt script.
d. Conduct rehearsals and present a full theatrical presentation to a live audience.
TAHSFT.CR.1 - Organize, design, and refine theatrical work.
a. Recognize and/or employ realistic and conventional speech patterns within dialogue or dramatic verse.
b. Incorporate dramatic elements through improvisation.
c. Recognize and interpret artistic choices in performance.
TAHSFT.PR.1 - Act by communicating and sustaining roles in formal and informal environments.
a. Observe and demonstrate aspects of verbal and non-verbal techniques in common human activity for performance (e.g. voice, breathing, posture, facial expression, physical movement).
b. Construct and interpret artistic choices in performance including the objectives, decisions, and actions of characters.
c. Explore various acting methods and techniques (e.g. Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, sense memory, emotional recall) for the purpose of character development.
d. Perform acting choices for an audience based on critiques.
C.1.2 - demonstrate an understanding of and use correct terminology to refer to the forms, elements, conventions, and techniques of drama, with a focus on ensemble drama works (e.g., chorus, protagonist, ingénue, supporting role, act, scene, climax, resolution, improvisation, mask, freeze-frame image)