We've been working hard and are ready to start putting our finished scenes on their feet. To help with that, this week, we focused on blocking and stage directions so that our performances can stay consistent from one performance to the next. Here's what we did...
Lindsay led our dance party this week with a great mix of songs including One Direction's “Best Song Ever” (always a big hit with Andrew), Kelly Clarkson “Since U Been Gone”, and The Jackson's “Blame it on the Boogie” (Emily L and Katie made up a fun dance for the chorus of this one). We got lots of requests for some different tunes (Fletcher really wants to add some Elvis to the playlist), so check next week for a few new songs to add to our playlist
Kate and Susan did a great job sharing warm up duty this week. Not only did we get to work on breathing, articulation, and movement, but they also warmed up our imaginations! Kate led a breathing exercises and facial warm up where we had to pretend we were chewing a big piece of Bubble Gum - things got crazy once we started blowing bubbles.
Next we played a game called "Beans." We got to use our bodies and our voices to play all different kinds of beans – skinny long string beans, big chunky garbanzo beans, frozen beans, jumping beans, and more!
Then, Susan led us in a miming exercise all about Going on a Hike. First we had to pack our backpack, and then we set out crawling through caves, climbing up mountains, splashing through streams, and rolling down hills. Along the way, we used the stuff we'd put in our pack, and also spotted animals like owls, wolves, and bears. This was such a fun, creative way to get us moving and vocalizing.
The word of the day is...BLOCKING. Blocking is setting where you go on stage during a scene and how you move. The same way we learn choreography for a song, we have some set movements within a scene. It's important for us to be consistent in our scenes so that our fellow actors know what to expect. It will also help our lighting designer know where to focus the lights, and to make sure the action is spread out across the whole stage. We want over our schedule, and reviewed our ensemble rules to make sure everyone was on the same page and then split into Lemons and Limes to get to work!
This ensemble game is an A.B.L.E. standby because it's simple to play and helps us work on focus, eye contact, taking turns, and saying “yes” to our ensemble members. Everyone stands in a circle. One person stands in the middle and gets to point to anyone else in the circle they choose. That person has to enthusiastically say "YES!" and switch places with the person in the middle.
Stage Manager Says
This game is all about Stage Directions, so first, we reviewed our basic stage directions: Centerstage, Upstage, Downstage, Stage Left, and Stage Right.
A Stage Manager is responsible for calling out cues during a show. For this game, one of our teaching artists played the "Stage Manager" and called out different places for the cast to move. The stage managers (Peter and Katie) varied individual calls ("Lucas, stage right") with group calls ("all girls downstage," "Strawberries, centerstage," "teaching artists upstage right," etc.), so everyone had to listen carefully and move fast so they didn't miss a call.
One of these key calls our actors have to learn is "PLACES!" Backstage at every show, we have a line of chairs, one for each actor. Each actor’s station has their headshot on it, as well as their journal and any key costume pieces (see photo). When the Stage Manager calls "Places", every actor has to go to their spot to be ready to start the show. For this production, all of the Limes will be seated Stage Right and all of the Lemons will be seated Stage Left. We practiced this call a bunch so everybody is familiar with it.
At the end of the game, we also practiced the final "Curtain Call" where all the actor line up onstage and get to take a bow!
Model and Clay
You might remember this game from our Summer Improv Workshop. Everybody has an important role to play to make this game successful.
Model – has to pick a pose and commit to it.
Sculptor - has to observe and pay attention to the details of the Model's pose, and communicate with the Clay to help them make the same shape.
Clay – has to listen to the sculptor's directions and follow along
Audience - watches and gives feedback on the finished sculpture. They have to NICELY suggest changes to the Sculptor to help them make their work better.
This is a great game to help us work on physicality, teamwork, saying "yes", and giving constructive criticism amongst other skills. Everybody loved taking turns with all of the different roles and the teaching artists were really impressed with the ensemble's focus and energy during this game!
Each of our actors got a chance to work on some of their key lines from their scenes. They got to practice projecting their voices, moving with their line, and staying consistent from one reading to the next. This also gave our Facilitators a chance to practice dropping in. Here's a peek at some of The Limes at work!
In the next several weeks, we'll keep working on lines and blocking the entire scene. Some of our actors may memorize their lines during this time through all the repetition, but regardless, our facilitators will always be with them onstage to help them remember where to go and what to say.
The Limes had some time after this to play a round of Here to There to help review characters and locations. And then we brought everybody back together for...
Mash Up Practice
Both groups met in the big dance studio. Katie called “Places” so the Limes went to Stage Right and the Lemons went to Stage Left and we practiced our big song with choreography. It's shaping up beautifully!
We all circled up and reviewed what we worked on. By show of hands, people got to vote for their favorite activities (not surprisingly, most people voted for working on Lines). After we talked about the plan for next week, Ben led us in our traditional call-and-response closing...
“I Take from the Heavens…”