LESSON PLAN: OPEN SCENES

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Teachers introduce open scenes to students. Helpful actor coaching exercise. Focuses actor in importance of working with partner. Boosts imagination and variety of approaching scenework.

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Exercises for the Directing Classroom from Diane Timmerman’s “Spare Scenes”<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


Step #1: The Teacher builds the scene


·         The teacher selects a scene and casts A and B


o   Actors learn lines by heart, forgoing particular line readings.


·         The director and actors build a relationship between A and B


o   Directors can use relationship-building techniques


·         The director sets up the given circumstances of the scene


o   Decides location


o   What do characters want from each other


Step #2: The Students play the Open Scene


·         The actors allow the given circumstances to impact dialogue


Step #3: The Teacher tackles the conceptual issues of the scene


·         What does a teacher/director want the audience to come away with after viewing the scene?


·         How can the teacher/director achieve this result, using actor coaching, creation of environment, change of tone, pacing, or other theatrical elements.


Step #4: The Teacher coaches the actors in order to illuminate the concept


·         The teacher coaches the actors towards performance that illuminate the ideas the director wishes to highlight.


Step #3: The Teacher creates different environments


·         Keeping all other variables the same (relationship, given circumstances, and intention), select a radically different environment in which the scene can take place.


·         Environments can be created through te imagination only or with actual props, set pieces, and/or lighting


·         Directors can repeat this exercise, selecting a different locale for each new showing and directing the actors accordingly.


Step #4: The Teacher varies the pace


·         Keeping al other variable the same, the teacher coaches actor to play the scene at varying rates. (Using imagery to describe the pace to the actors can be helpful.)


Step #5: The Teacher elicits a different tone


·         Keeping all variable the same, the director communicates to the actors a radically different tone in which to play the scene.


·         Directors can repeat this exercise, selecting different tone for each new showing. (It can be interesting to direct same scene in the maaner of a suspenseful thriller, a slapstick farce, and a delicate drama.)


 


The process outlined above can be used in its entirety over the course of several weeks or particular steps may be used as stand alone exercises. However it is utilized in the directing classroom, t I valuable to direct a given scene in at least two different ways. With able actors, a director can direct the same words and people in radically different directions. Because the skeletal language does not guide the actors in ways that traditional dialogue can, the sometimes intangible director’s work can be highlighted more accurately.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


OPEN SCENE 1


A: This is the worst  


B: Mmm I know


A: There


B: Happy


A: I am now  Yes


B: Good   Are you done


A: OK now    Your turn


B: OK   No, this is the worst


A: Mmm I know


B: There


A: Are you done


B: Yes


A: Good   I thought you said you were done


B: OK OK now  anything else


A: Yes   There


 


OPEN SCENE 2


A: Shoot


B: Oh


A: Oh no


B: Can you uh ….


A: No here use this


B: Come on


A: I told you to be careful


B: I was  it just happened


A: There  let me see


B: Oh  where are you going


A: For help                     


B: And leave me here you can't leave me here


A: You stay here I'm off to get help


B: No no please one more time try it again


A: Stay here I'll be right back


B: Ah


 


OPEN SCENE 3


A:  Well


B:  How are you


A:  I’m not all that well  really


B:  Why What’s the matter


A:  The usual things  How are you


B:  I’m fine


A:  Mmm  It’s been a long time


B:  Yes   I thought of you the other day


A:  Why


B:  It’s nice sometimes to think back  isn’t it


A:  Absolutely  How’s everything


B:  Oh not bad  Do you know how long it’s been since we met


A:  Uuh


B:  Two years


A:  Long time


 


OPEN SCENE 4


A:  What are you doing


B:  Can’t you tell


A:  Well, I think so but


B:  It should be obvious


A:  You shouldn’t


B:  I know


A:  I mean, I really wish you wouldn’t


B:  You should have thought of that


A:  Is this because of what I did


B:  Partly yes, mostly no


A:  Can I make it up to you somehow


B:  I very much doubt it


A:  Stop doing that and really listen to me


B:  You don’t recognize “No” do you


A:  I just asked you to listen


B:  I said “No” that’s it


 


Open Scene 5


A:Hi!


B: Hello.


A:How’s everything?


B: Fine, I guess.


A:Do you know what time it is?


B:No. Not exactly.


A:Don’t you have a watch?


 B:Not on me.


A:Well!


B:Well what?


A:What did you do last night?


B:Wht do you mean?


A:What did you do last night?


B:Nothing!


A:Nothing?


B:I said nothing.


A: Sorry I asked


B:That’s alright.




 SAID NOTHING! A:I'M SORRY I ASKED.B:THAT'S ALL RIGHT.


Things to keep in mind:


ENERGY; USUALLY INSUFFICIENT. ESPECIALLY WHEN BEGINNING A NEW BEAT. OR IN THE MIDDLE OF A LONG SPEECH. ACTOR'S ENERGY TENDS TO RUN DOWN HILL AND BECOMES A VERY COMFORTABLE STATE OF BEING. SOON, NO ONE CARES OR LISTENS. YOU MUST RELOAD AND BEGIN FIRING ONCE MORE IN THE SCENE. THE STAKES MUST REMAIN HIGH....IF YOU ARE NOT MOVING FORWARD, AND GAINING TERRITORY, YOU ARE LOSING GROUND UP THERE.


YOU MUST ALWAYS CONSIDER WHY YOUR CHARACTER STAYS IN THE SCENE. WHAT ARE YOU PROTECTING BY BEING TERE? WHAT CAN YOU LOSE IF YOU LEAVE THE BATTLEGROUND? IF YOU KNOW WHY YOU STAY, YOU WILL ALSO KNOW WHAT YOU DO UP THERE. I LOVE TO WORK WITH ACTORS WHO ALWAYS ASK, "GIVEN WHAT'S GOING ON HERE, WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU STAY (AND “FACETIME” IS THE WRONG ANSWER


DON'T LET THE IMPULSE STOP IN YOUR HEAD. RELEASE IT PHYSICALLY. ONE DEFINITIOON OF TALENT IS "HOW MUCH OF THE ACTOR'S BODY REPONDS TO HER HEART AND MIND?" IN THE GOOD ACTOR, THE IDEA BECOMES AN EARTHQUAKE WHICH SHAKES THEM TO THEIR TIPPY TOES.


IMPROVISE, MAKE ADJUSTMENTS.


EVERY RELATIONSHIP YOU HAVE ONSTAGE OR LIFE SHOULD BE DYNAMIC! AND THEREFORE DRAMATIC. IT MYS HAVE THE POTENTIAL FOR LOVE, PAIN, BETRAYAL, GOOD AND HARM. AND BOTH OF YOU MUST HAVE ENOUGH RANGE (OPPOSITES) IN YOUR GIVE AND TAKE TO INTRIQUE AND DELIGHT US, AND BOTH OF YOU. BE THERE WITH SOMETHING AT STAKE, AND RECEIVE AND GIVE IN EQUAL MEASURE.


A COMMON TRAP FOR STUDENTS, DOING IMPROVISATIONS IS TO FALL INTO THE HQBIT OF USING WORDS INSTEAD OF ACTIONS. WORDS CAN BE ACTIONS WHEN TIED TO PURPOSE...STRONGLY, TIED. TALK FOR A PURPOSE BUTDO NOT TALK INSTEAD OF DOING. STAY OUT OF YOUR HEAD, AND DON'T INTELLECTUALIZE YOURLELF OUT OF YOUR NEEDS IN ORDER TO AVOID CONFLICT. AND LIVE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES...IF, DIRE, THEY WILL FORCE YOU TO TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY


 


 


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