Staging with Images

Staging with Images
Subject: Theatre
Grade level: 9th –12th
Purpose: Students will generate staging ideas through movement activities that emphasize how
images can tell a story.
Open playing space (chairs pushed to side of classroom, gym, or multi-purpose room)
Small clips of text from a Living Newspaper script, or small sections of newspaper
articles to experiment with
 Digital camera, if available
Lesson Duration: 50 minutes
Objectives :
 Theatre Arts 117.64 (1B), employ stage movement
 Theatre Arts 117.65/.66/.67 (3D), define the director’s responsibility to the script
Warm-up Activity: Complete the Image
Step 1:
Have students stand in a large circle. Ask two volunteers to enter the middle of the circle and
shake hands. Ask them to freeze this image.
Step 2:
Ask students in the circle to describe what they see. Then ask students “What are the possible
stories this image might be telling?” or “What’s the story between these two characters?”
Allow for as many ideas as students want to share.
Step 3:
Ask for another volunteer to tap one person out of the picture, and to change the image in
some way. The first person should remain with their hand extended. You might ask the new
volunteer to stand with his or her back to the original person, if they need a suggestion.
Step 4:
Ask the students to describe this new image. Then ask what possible stories this image might
tell. Again, allow time for many responses.
Step 5:
Continue playing complete the image, but do not stop after every new image. Let students
begin to create two person images, with one person always tapping out one of the other
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 Freeze the action occasionally when students have created a particularly striking
image and engage students again in analyzing the image.
 Call out themes from the Living Newspaper project(s) and see what images are
generated with this inspiration. Take photos of these frozen moments to use later as
possible staging ideas.
Step 7:
Engage students in a brief discussion of the activity: What was this experience like? What are
some images that stood out to you? What can this game tell us about how images lead to
Activity: Stage Picture
Step 1:
Ask for a group of five volunteers. Have them stand at the back of the playing space and
count off from 1-5.
Step 2:
Tell students that when you call out their number, they should enter the playing space and
create a frozen image based on a word. Explain that the frozen images should relate and
connect to one another. You might take suggestions for words to base the images on, or use
some of the following as inspiration: the beach, peace, success, family, betrayal.
Step 3:
After you have decided on a word, call out the numbers and have the students create their
stage picture. Encourage them to make big physical choices and to use different levels. Ask
the rest of the class to describe what they see.
Step 4:
Repeat the activity again with a new group of volunteers and a new word.
Step 5:
Break the students into groups of 4 or 5. Ask them to choose either: 1) a word or theme from
the script, or 2) a sentence, a piece of narration, or a few lines of dialogue from the script.
Step 6:
Ask each group to create stage pictures inspired by the words or sentences in their small
groups. Have each group share their stage pictures with the class. Ask students to comment
on what stands out to them, or images they would like to see included in the final
Closure: Ask students to share one particular image that stood out to them today. What makes an
image powerful? What new ideas do you have about staging based on the small group images?
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Student Product: Stage pictures that can be applied directly to the script in performance. If a
digital camera is available, each student can have at least one picture of him- or herself within a
tableau. Have each student carefully examine this photo and write the assessment below.
Assessment: Have each student analyze what they remember of an image (or a digital picture of
the image, if available), describing its relation to the theme, selected line of dialogue, characters,
relationships, and action of the script.
Source: “Complete the Image” from Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-Actors and
“Stage Picture” from Viola Spolin, Theatre Games for the Classroom
From p. 145 of the Living Newspapers Across the Disciplines Resource Guide by the
Humanities Institute at the University of Texas at Austin,
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