Pantomime Scenes

Pantomime Scenes
By Dana Fleming
Unit Objective: Students will be able to demonstrate their ability to craft a storyline
and convey physicality and emotion by performing an original duo-pantomime
Lesson One—Intro to Movement
Objective: Students will understand the basics of communication through movement
and implement them through a game of Charades.
Materials Needed:
High-energy aerobics music and means by which to play it.
Many little strips of paper, bowls or cups to put them in, and pens for Charades.
Excitedly invite all students to the stage and get them PUMPED UP FOR AEROBICS.
Have the students form dance lines and turn on the music. Lead students through
an aerobic routine and stretching.
Step One—DISCUSSION: Ask students what tools they have to use as actors. Their
bodies should be one of the answers given. Ask students why and how their bodies
are useful in performance and in acting. What can be conveyed?
Step Two—DIRECTIONS/GUIDED PRACTICE: Ask students if they have ever played
Telephone Charades. This game is played in the following manner. Select five to six
participants and ask them to leave the room. The audience chooses an action that is
specific, silly, and obscure to act out (ie: “a nerd’s romantic first date”, “washing an
elephant”, “going skydiving naked”, etc.) Once the clue has been decided, bring in all
the participants and instruct them to face the right side. The moderator reveals the
clue to the first person, who taps the second person on the shoulder and acts out the
topic using charades rules (no talking allowed, no noises). The second person then
taps the third person and acts out his or her understanding of what was acted out.
This continues until it reaches the last person in line, who must guess what the
action is. This is a fun game because the action mutates and changes based upon
each person’s interpretation of what is going on, often leading to confusion and silly
Step Three—DISCUSSION: Between each round of Telephone Charades, ask the
audience members what the participants did well to convey the message. Where
did the message get lost? Why did it get lost? What are effective methods of
communicating clear meaning through movement?
Step Four—DIRECTIONS/GUIDED PRACTICE: Divide students into two teams—
place the slips of paper, pens, and two bowls on the ground and allow students to
write down whatever move, song, play, book, or television show they like for a game
of Charades. Explain the basic rules of Charades and play the game! May the best
movers win.
Ask students what movement can convey aside from just story? Tell them that in
the coming days, these areas will be covered. Students are assessed by
Lesson Two—Pantomime
Objective: Students will demonstrate their understanding of pantomime by
performing simple actions.
Materials Needed: Two copies of the improvisation duo scenes (attached), cut and
ready to be handed out.
As students enter the classroom, stand by the door. Randomly hand students an
improv scene (there should be eight pieces of paper total, equaling four random
partnerships). After role has been taken, ask everyone to come to the stage with a
half-sheet of paper and a writing implement—and for these eight students to find
their partners and discuss who will be who in the improved scenes. Have them
perform their scenes and after each performance have the class guess what the
scene was about, down to the smallest detail. Who was on stage? What was going
on? What is the relationship between the two? What was the conflict?
Step One—DISCUSSION: ask students if the performances were fun or engaging to
watch? Why? Simple action CAN be engaging to watch. This is helped as action is
clear and precise—it is important for action to be understandable to the audience.
Step Two—GUIDED PRACTICE: Have students leave their paper on the ground and
circle up. Have them rub their hands together. Slowly as they continue to move
their hands, a sphere forms between their palms. Some kind of ball. It can be very
small, it can grow and become very large. It can be small as a marble or a pearl—it
can be as large and heavy as an exercise ball or a watermelon. What size is it? Feel
its weight. Feel its heaviness or its lightness. Try throwing it up into the air—be
sure to catch it again! What is its color, its texture? Can you balance it in one hand?
On one finger? What does it smell like? Give it a good lick—Does a basketball taste
different from an orange? Now, using all of your strength, you will throw your ball
as high as you can into the air, watch it go up and then fall back down—as it hits the
ground it immediately becomes liquid and soaks into the floor.
Step Three—DISCUSSION: Having students reflect on the exercise just performed,
teach them the basic qualities of pantomime. There are three! 1. Consistency—
keeping objects the same size, in the same place, etc. 2. Exaggerated Resistance—
define and make movements sharp and crisp, make every movement bigger than
life. 3. Exaggerated Facial Expression and Gestures—keeping expressions and
gestures specific, but bigger than life! Discuss each one in detail.
Step Four—DIRECTIONS: Get your papers and pencils. Sit in a circle. Think of an
object, larger than a marble, but smaller than a microwave. Write it down on your
paper. Pass your paper to the left. Using the object you on this new paper, write a
simple, complete task or action based on the object. For example—if the object you
receive is “balloon” a task can be “you begin to blow up the balloon. It gets bigger
and bigger. Suddenly, it pops!”. Pass this paper to the left once more. You will have
two minutes to create a short pantomime based on your object and action.
Step Five—INDEPENDENT PRACTICE: Give students two minutes to work.
Step Six—PERFORMANCE/DISCUSSION: Have students perform their pantomimes
in front of the classroom. At the close of each pantomime, students will discuss
what they saw—what was the object? What was the action? How did you know?
Participation is the assessment in this lesson.
1. You are waiting in line at a grocery store carrying a heavy basket and a
screaming baby. The person in front of you is writing a check very slowly
and having a lovely little chat with the cashier. You grow impatient and ask
the person ahead of you to hurry along. The person sees the state you’re in,
apologizes, and retrieves a $20.00 bill from her wallet to give to you.
2. You are children playing in the sand box. One of you is finishing the final
touches on a very delicate and magnificent sand castle. You call your friend
over to see it, but in his excitement he she trips and falls onto your castle.
You are distraught. Suddenly it begins to pour rain. You both run under the
nearest tree and collapse, laughing.
3. You are at a Doctor’s office. She comes in and greets you. She asks you to sit
on the examination bed. She checks your temperature, your heart-rate, and
your reflexes. She informs you that she’ll need to draw some blood and goes
to get a needle. You are deathly afraid of needles and try to warn her. She
assures you you’ll be fine as she prepares the needle. You take deep breaths,
but as she puts the needle into your elbow, you faint.
4. You are playing a video game with your brother. He is winning. He puts it on
pause and says he needs to go to get a drink of water and he’ll be right back.
He leaves and you un-pause his controller and begin to play for him, making
him lose. He walks in with the water to see what you’re doing. He is furious.
He drops the water and chases you off stage.
Lesson Three—Storylines
Objective: Students will demonstrate knowledge as to how to create a fun an
interesting storyline by turning it an outline with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Materials Needed:
One big bag filled with “props”. I basically just filled it with any fun or interesting
items I could find at home—weights, a map, a stuffed animal, Russian stacking dolls,
a can-opener, a bible, high-heels, a scarf, incense, a pepper grinder, etc. I make sure
to bring enough for each partnership and a few extra to offer variety.
White board and marker.
30-second-story. Ask the students who knows the story of Little Red Riding Hood.
Ask if anyone feels like they could tell the complete story in one minute. Choose a
volunteer. Time her and stop her at a minute. If she couldn’t do it, ask her if she’d
like to try again or let someone else try. If she was able to do it, ask her if she can
tell it in 50 seconds. 40 seconds. 30 seconds. And so on. Continue until she’s gone
as far as she can. Ask the class what three basic components does a story boil down
to. Answer: A beginning, a middle, and an end.
Step One—DISCUSSION: Write on a the white board leaving space after each word to
define, “BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END” Ask the class “What does a beginning
entail? What makes a beginning different from the other two? Why is it important?
What does a middle entail? How does it move along the action? What about an
ending? What makes it an ending?” Continue like this until you have sufficient
definitions for the beginning, middle, and end. The beginning is where characters,
location, relationship, etc. are established. The middle presents a conflict that needs
to be solve. The end is the resolution to the conflict.
Step Two—MODELING: Ask for three volunteers to stand in front of the story. They
are to tell a story as a group. Person one tells the beginning or establishment of
character, location, and relationships, person two tells the middle, or conflict, and
person three tells the resolution. The audience will decide whether or not each
person did their task correctly. Two or three groups can model this if time permits.
Step Three—DISCUSSION: Back to the white board, you will introduce the two other
important elements of storyline creation. 1. KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)—make
sure it is easy to understand and not cluttered with excess movement and gestures;
audiences need all the clues they can get to understand what you’re doing. 2. Be
Fantastic—both in the “good performance” aspect and the “not reality” aspect;
pantomimes do not have to follow regular rules and should be larger than life at all
Step Four—DIRECTIONS: Ask students to get into pairs and come to the stage. This
partner will be their partner for the final assessment in this class. Pull out bag of
props and begin to place props on the floor. Tell the students that when you let
them, they are to come and choose a prop as partnership to create a pantomime
story surrounding that prop. The scene can be practiced WITH the prop but must be
performed WITHOUT it. It should be about one-two minutes long. The story should
have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Remind them what those entail.
Step Five—INDEPENDENT/PARTNER PRACTICE: Students are to create and
practice their stories. They are to then pick another pair and to perform the scenes
for one another.
Step Six—PERFORMANCE: For however long time permits, pairs who want to go
may volunteer to perform their scenes without the props. Class will discuss the
storyline—the beginning, middle, and end evident in the scene.
Step Seven—DIRECTIONS/INDEPENDENT PRACTICE: Tell students that they are
now to get with their partner and create a rough draft of the story for their
pantomime. Leave them at least ten minutes to create this and write it down. They
need to write down the beginning, middle, and end with all information that those
entail. Volunteer to help if they feel stuck.
Have students turn in their outlines. You will look them over and return them to the
students with your assessment.
Lesson Four—Emotion and Characters in Pantomime
Objective—Students will demonstrate an understanding of how physicality portrays
emotion and character by creating emotions and characters for their scenes.
Materials Needed:
List of stereotypical characters, cut and put in a jar (attached)
Adverbs, cut and put in a jar (attached)
Enough half or quarter sheets of paper and writing implements (these can be
shared) for all students.
Students’ storyline outlines they turned in yesterday.
Have students find a partner and then to take that partner and find a place on the
floor. Decide who is person A and person B. Ask them to be perfectly silent and
follow the instructions you give one at a time while the other watches. For example,
“Person A, stand with your weight on one leg. Cross your arms in front of your
chest. Look down and over your left shoulder. Eyes narrow and lids drop. Outer
brow turns downward. Mouth turns down. Facial muscles sag. Hold that position.
Breathe. Person B, what do you see? What is the emotion being portrayed? How
can you tell? What are your clues? Good. Person A, relax. Person B, your turn…”
etc. This exercise will show students how movement portrays emotion even
without assigning meaning to it.
Step One—GUIDED PRACTICE: Have a jar of stereotypical characters on little sheets
of paper. Pass the jar around and have everyone take a character. Tell them to put
the sheet of the paper in their pockets. Group A take a seat and Group B fill the
space. They are to begin walking around the space as their character without
interacting with any other characters. Ask the questions—“how does your
character move? Fast? Slow? How is his or her posture? Do they walk with
confidence? In fear? Do they carry anything special with them? Now, without
words, interact with other characters on stage. How do you approach others? How
do others respond to you? How do you get to know someone else? What do you
think of the characters you are interacting with?” Have group A guess what
characters were being portrayed. Have them defend their answers. Switch groups
and repeat.
Step Two—GROUP PRACTICE: Character Relay Race! Have students form four even
lines on stage right facing stage left. Tell the students that they are going to have a
relay race to stage let and back, running AS their characters. If they aren’t running
as their character would run, they get called out and sent back at which point they
need to start over and try again. This should be a fun, funny, and energetic activity.
Feel free to laugh very hard and allow others to do the same.
Step Three—GUIDED PRACTICE: Have students sit in a circle with their half-sheets
of paper and pencils. At the top of the piece of paper have each student write down
an action (like unpacking groceries, chopping wood, making a sandwich, brushing
teeth, etc.) When everyone is done, have them pass their paper to the right. At this
point, pass around the jar of adverbs and ask each student to take one. With the
new paper, write the adverb below it (ie: chopping wood tenderly, making a
sandwich angrily, etc.) Have them pass that paper to the right once more. Students
are to take this paper and to create a short 15-30 second pantomime.
Step Four—PARTNER PRACTICE: Students will choose a partner. Partners will
present their pantomime to one another.
Step Six—PERFORMANCE: Students who desire can perform their pantomime and
class will discuss their performance in the same way they did with their partners.
Step Seven—DIRECTIONS: Ask students to get with their partners. Hand students
back their storyline outlines. Ask them to describe their character in-detail and
character’s emotions in the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
Have students turn in their storyline outlines now with detailed character and
emotion descriptions.
Ditzy Blonde
Football Player
Elderly Person
Rock Star
Super Hero
50’s Housewife
Business Man
Body Builder
Country Hick
Brave Knight
Track Star
Computer Geek
Proper Lady
School Principal
With Boredom
Lesson Five—Rehearsal of Stories
Objective: Students will use the story outlines they’ve made to create full scenes by
using the “How to Develop a Pantomime” handouts.
Materials Needed:
Students storyline outlines with character/emotion descriptions to return
Enough copies of “Pantomime Preview Rubrics” for each pair of students
Ask students to walk around the stage. Who is their character in their pantomime
scenes? Begin walking as your character, embodying all physicality. Imagine one
prop you use in your scene. See it somewhere on the stage. Walk towards it. Circle
around it. What are it’s colors? Bend down and pick it up. Feel its weight. Its
shape. Its texture. Is it hard to hold? Is it nice to hold? Begin to handle it—move it
back and forth between hands. Lift it up and down. Give it a close examination.
Feel and see every tiny detail. Find a partner. Show him or her your prop.
Demonstrate how it is used. Switch props with your partner. Use your new prop
and notice it’s details, weight, texture, etc. The prop in your hand suddenly turns to
a magical clay that gets smaller as you compress it. Squeeze it in to a ball and roll it
between your hands as it gets smaller and smaller. It has now become a salted
caramel. Enjoy it!
Step One—DIRECTIONS: Hand out “Pantomime Preview Rubric” sheets. Attention
paid to smallest details in forming these scenes will make a huge difference in and
bring life to your final production! Start with your framework, and fill it in with
purpose, detail, and energy. Use the time. Consult the “Pantomime Preview Rubric”
sheet for help. For the last fifteen minutes of class you will perform your scene to
another partnership.
Step Two—INDIVIDUAL PRACTICE: Give students the bulk of class time to work on
their scenes. Move throughout the classroom to observe and ensure work-ethic.
Offer help as requested and appropriate.
Step Three—PARTNER PRACTICE: When there are fifteen minutes left, have each
partnership choose another partnership they haven’t worked with yet. Each pair
will perform while the other watches. As they watch one another they will note
their favorite moment and one area of improvement and share accordingly.
Gather students together. Tomorrow they will be previewing their scenes. They are
to bring their rubrics filled out to class. Their ticket out of class is signing up for the
order of performance.
Pantomime Preview Rubric
Title _______________________________
Names(s) _______________________________
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Scene is rehearsed and
actors know the
elements and location
of story events
Scene is only
rehearsed and actors
do not know where
to go on the stage or
order in which
events happened
Scene had limited
rehearsal and it
appears actors are
performing sections
of the piece for the
first time
Unprepared. No
thought to story,
characters, or simple
actions required by
the performers
Partner Work
Action is well-timed
with partners and each
actor reacts to what
his/her partner is doing
Actors are missing
moments of timing
or awareness with
their partners
Actors are not
responding or
paying attention to
partners except
when in direct
Actors refuse to
acknowledge or
respond to partner
at all
Actors maintain the
required consistency
throughout the piece
with regards to location
and size of objects. All
items are picked up and
set down
Actors are
inconsistent with
handling items, but
maintain the
location of major
items in the scene.
Major items move
and handles items
vanish and appear
frequently during
the scene
No thought is given
to the consistency
and location of
items, audience
struggles to
understand what
items are handled
during the scene
Actors showing varying
levels of resistance
when handling items
throughout the scene
Actors show
resistance extremes,
but some items have
not resistance
Actors show
resistance on only
one or two items in
the scene
Actors show no
resistance when
handling items
Actors exaggerate
actions and expressions
throughout the scene to
clearly communicate
events to the audience
Actors exaggerate
some events to help
the story along, but
some events happen
too quickly or too
small to understand
Actors have limited
exaggeration and
audience frequently
does not understand
events or actions
Actors show no
exaggeration in
actions or
Story has a strong
beginning, middle and
end and a clear conflict
Story events build on Story is a chain of
one another, but
events with no
conflict is weak or
conflict does not get
Story does not have
a clear beginning,
middle or end and
has not conflict
Lesson 6—Previews
Objective—Students will perform their pantomimes and analyze the performances of
their peers by recording one moment in each pantomime that they enjoyed, and one
area of assessment each pantomime can work on.
Materials Needed:
Pantomime Preview worksheets (attached) enough copies for each student.
Extra copies of preview rubrics (from previous lesson) for students who
will…inevitably forget them.
The sign-up list they filled out yesterday.
*This might take longer than one day—make adjustments accordingly.
Follow-the-leader! Have the class form two lines each with a leader. Explain that
each line can use the entire space. Whoever is in front of the line can move however
the want and everyone behind has to copy the leader’s movement exactly. They can
run, leap, skip, twirl, crawl, summersault, whatever they want! The leader leads for
about 15, 20 seconds and then when you yell “switch!” the leader runs to the back
and lets someone else lead. Turn some energetic music on and let them go!
Step One—DIRECTIONS: Hand out Pantomime Preview worksheets (one to each
student) and tell them they’ll need to bring those along with their rubrics and a
writing implement to the stage for previews. Tell students they have 10 minutes to
use as they please. Ask, “What would be an intelligent way to spend this time?”
Warm up/run anything they need to run/make any last minute changes.
Step Two—INDEPENDENT PRACTICE: Allow students 10 minutes, during this time,
set up a performance space. After ten minutes ask everyone to come to the space
with all of the necessary items.
Step Three—DIRECTIONS: Ask students to list some components of acceptable
audience behavior. Explain to them how to fill out the Pantomime Preview
worksheets. Read off the order and ask the first group to get set up!
Step Four—PERFORMANCES: Have each group go up, introduce themselves and
their piece, and perform. Take notes using the rubric and be sure to time each piece.
At the end of each performance, announce the time to the students.
Collect all Pantomime Preview worksheets. Ask the students to consider the
performances of the class as a whole. What strengths did they have as a whole?
What were some common weaknesses? You can offer your own insights as well.
Tell students you will assess their performances and return your notes as well as
select notes from their peers to them the next day.
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
What was your favorite moment?:
What area does this pair need to work on?:
PREPARATION: Scene is well rehearsed and actors know the elements and location
of story events
PARTNER WORK: Action is well-timed with partners and each actor reacts to what
his/her partner is doing
CONSISTANCY: Consistency is maintained throughout the piece with regards to
location and size of objects. All items picked up and set down.
RESISTANCE: Actors show varying levels of resistance when handling items
throughout scene
EXAGGERATION: Actors exaggerate actions and expressions throughout the scene to
clearly communicate events to the audience
STORY: Story has a strong beginning, middle, and end.
Lesson Seven—Revisions
Objective: Students will demonstrate their ability to revise and improve by turning in
one area of their pantomime that they will work on this period to improve and be
graded on for improvement in their final assessment.
Materials Needed:
Rubrics for final assessment (attached)
Preview Rubrics graded with notes (see below)
Teacher Preparation:
Using the Pantomime Preview Worksheets you’ve collected from your students,
type up lists of useful notes to give to each pair from what you’ve gathered from the
remarks of their peers. Add to these remarks of your own typed here (even if
they’re already written on the rubric).
Ask students to sit with their partners.
“The artists must be sacrificed to their art. Like the bees, they must put their lives
into the sting they give.” —Ralf Waldo Emerson
Place this quote on the board. Ask students what this means? What are examples of
artists. Are they artists? What does it mean to sacrifice to your art? Ask them to
think of something they really love and give a great deal of time to—it could be
sports, academics, hobbies. Ask them if it’s good enough to do okay. To do their
very mediocre-ist. Ask them how they can improve their art.
Step One—DISCUSSION: Ask students to think about their scenes and an area they
feel they could improve upon or be revised. Students are to now turn to their
neighbors and share with them what they’ve come up with. Any students who are
willing can share with the class. As students volunteer information, ask them how
they intend to go about making these revisions. Try to get a variety of areas—time
constraints, better ending to story, consistency in environment, etc.
Step Two—DIRECTIONS: Tell students you will hand back the rubric and the notes
for each partnership. They are to read them over, and to focus on one area of
improvement in their scenes. If they have time, they can move onto others, but they
will be asked to record on a piece of paper what that area is. Tell them that you will
collect this paper near the end of class and use it in part with the final assessment.
Step Three—INDIVIDUAL PRACTICE: Allow students the bulk of class time to work
on improvements/revisions. If students feel they are done, separate them as a pair
and ask them to volunteer by helping other classmates improve their scenes.
With 6-7 minutes left, gather the students together. Collect their pieces of paper
with their priority area of improvement. Hand out rubrics for their final
performance. Go over the experience of making revisions. Does anyone have
anything they’d like to share? What improvements were made? How? What
worked in helping accomplish this? Why is this process so important to you as
actors, artists, and people?
Pantomime Evaluation
Names: _____________________________
Grade: ______________
Time: _______________
Title: __________________________________________________________
Always in
personality &
through face
and body
Mostly in
shows some
and emotions
Occasionally in
personality and
face is hard to
see because they
are not
Characterization is
not seen, facial
expressions and
emotions are not
No preparation, no
personality, no
Took time to
exaggeration of
were crisp and
was shown at
were mostly
Opportunities to
show resistance
were ignored;
were vague
Little resistance is
shown; movements
were hard to
No resistance
shown; movements
were too vague to
Objects and
consistent with
location and
with objects
slips in and out,
objects vanish
and/or move
Shows glimpse of
consistency, objects
and movements
Simply going
through the motions
without a concern
for consistency
Interact well,
reacts to other
movement and
timing works
fairly well,
attention to
the other
actor, timing
mostly on
Pays attention
but only
reacts to other
Interaction hard to
see, timing is off,
reaction to each
other is minimal
Characters unable
to work off of each
Exaggerated Facial
Expressions & Gestures
Exaggerated Weight
Objects and ideas stay
Working with Partner
Scene is fun to
characters are
easy to get
involved with,
storyline has a
middle and end
with conflicts
Scene is fun
to watch with
are mostly
storyline has
Scene is mostly
fun to watch
with some
problem spots,
storyline is
Scene is a little
hard to watch with
several problem
spots, storyline is
Storyline is very
weak and hard to
watch because
everything is too
Lesson Eight—Performances
Objective: Students will demonstrate proficiency in pantomime by performing their
polished and improved scenes to their peers.
Materials Needed:
Extra Rubrics for final assessment…just in case…
“Programs” for students with the order of performances, names of performers and
their pieces.
*Note—this might take more than one day. Plan accordingly.
Hand out programs to students as they enter the classroom and ask them to please
be seated in the audience.
Step One—DIRECTIONS: Welcome students to the final performances of their
pantomime pieces. The performances will proceed as outlined in their programs.
Everyone will have five minutes to warm up on their own, and then we will begin
with the first performance, while the next partnership waits backstage “on deck”—
or waiting backstage. Following the first performance, the second group will set up
for their scene while the third group is “on deck”.
Step Two—PERFORMANCES: Keep the audience behavior under control, and keep
moving one performance to the next. Make certain to time each performance—if
you need help from a timer, arrange beforehand.
Be sure to leave some time at the end of the performances for a discussion. Have
students sit near a partner to share one thing they learned or improved upon about
performance in this unit. Ask students to share their answers, and conduct a brief
discussion. What did you learn? Why is an understanding of pantomime important
to performance? How will what you learned help you in future performances?
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