DTA | Unit Three: Building Improvised Scenes
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Part of the Middle School Curriculum

Unit Three: Building Improvised Scenes

Created by Lindsay Johnson

Students will understand the basic building blocks of a scene: The Who (characters/ relationship), the Where (setting), and the What (conflict – objectives/tactics). They will learn how to use both verbal and nonverbal (pantomime) clues to communicate these scene details to an audience. They will continue to work on voice clarity, while also learning to open their body to an audience. The unit culminates in a performance assessment in which students work in pairs to improvise a scene.

Standards Addressed

Overview
The overview covers the essential question of the unit, lays out the 11-lesson structure, covers key vocabulary, time management, and assessment tools.
1: Relationships
In this lesson we’ll look at how verbal and nonverbal clues communicate relationship to an audience. Students will improvise a short scene in pairs that shows a clear relationship between two characters using clue words and body language/expressions.
2: Setting
In this lesson, we’ll look at how we use physical clues to help the audience infer a specific setting for a scene. Students will improvise a short, silent, pantomimed scene in small groups that shows a clear setting – using gestures and movements only.
3: Conflict and Objectives
In this lesson, we’ll look at multiple perspectives that can lead to a conflict. In pairs, students will improvise a short scene in which each character has an objective that conflicts with the other character’s objective.
4: High-Stakes Objectives
In this lesson, we’ll look at multiple perspectives that can lead to a conflict. Students will take an objectives quiz to demonstrate their understanding of objectives, conflict, and stakes. This could be graded as a daily work grade or an assessment, and will give you a snapshot of students’ current understanding.
5: Tactics
In this lesson, we’ll look at multiple perspectives that can lead to a conflict and strategies employed to resolve it. Students will improvise a scene using 2+ tactics in partner groups. Some groups will perform for the class and receiving coaching and feedback on the Tactics Rubric.
6: Scene Assignment and Brainstorm
In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will complete a Brainstorm Sheet to plan out their partner scene for assessment.
7: Objective and Tactics
In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far during this unit to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will complete a Rehearsal Checklist.
8: Relationship and Setting Rehearsal
In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far during this unit to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will complete a Rehearsal Checklist.
9: Projection Rehearsal
In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far during this unit to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will complete a Rehearsal Checklist.
10: Final Scene Rehearsal
In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far during this unit to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will complete a Rehearsal Checklist.
11: Scene Performance Assessment
In this lesson, students will use a variety of methods they’ve learned so far during this unit to communicate meaning in a scene: setting, pantomime, relationship clues, objectives, stakes, and tactics. Students will perform their final partner scene in front of the class for assessment. They will also complete an Audience Feedback Sheet in which they give their peers feedback on Rubric skills.
12: Posters
7 posters for the drama classroom, designed to support the objectives of the building improvised scenes unit.
Attachments

Standards Addressed

National Core Arts Standards

Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation - Grade 6

TH:Pr5.1.6.a - Recognize how acting exercises and techniques can be applied to a drama/theatre work.

Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation - Grade HS Proficient

TH:Pr5.1.HSI.a - Practice various acting techniques to expand skills in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.

Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation - Grade HS Accomplished

TH:Pr5.1.HSII.a - Refine a range of acting skills to build a believable and sustainable drama/theatre performance.

Refine new work through play, drama processes and theatre experiences using critical analysis and experimentation - Grade 6

TH:Cr3.1.6.b - Identify effective physical and vocal traits of characters in an improvised or scripted drama/theatre work.

Refine new work through play, drama processes and theatre experiences using critical analysis and experimentation - Grade 7

TH:Cr3.1.7.b - Develop effective physical and vocal traits of characters in an improvised or scripted drama/theatre work

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

TH:Cr3.1.HSI.b - Explore physical, vocal and physiological choices to develop a performance that is believable, authentic, and relevant to a drama/theatre work.

California VAPA Standards (2019)

6.TH:Pr5 Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

6.TH:Pr5.a - Recognize how acting exercises and techniques can be applied to a drama/theatre work.

Prof.TH:Pr5 Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

Prof.TH:Pr5.a - Practice various acting techniques to expand skills in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.

Acc.TH:Pr5 Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

Acc.TH:Pr5.a - Refine a range of acting skills to build a believable and sustainable drama/theatre performance.

Georgia Performance Standards - 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.

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Theatre Arts

MS 117.211 LI - Creative Expression: performance

C.2.A - demonstrate safe use of the voice and body.

HS 117.315 LI - Creative Expression: performance

C.2.A - demonstrate safe use of the voice and body.

Alberta, Canada

Improvisation/Acting Level III - Advanced

26 - pick up cues effectively

British Columbia (2018)

Ontario, Canada

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