The Big Show: Performing in Acting Companies

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SWBAT perform their Shakespeare scene in front of a live audience.

Big Idea

Middle schoolers as actors and groundlings? Why not?

Getting Our Acts Together

10 minutes

The big day arrived, as promised, and the students came into the classroom full of energy and nervousness.  I gave them ten minutes to change clothes, make final decisions about staging, and review those lines, one last time.

Really, the students were ready, so it was important that they not have too much time to fret about their production.  I had cleared a stage area right before the classes changed, so the students were aware of what to expect.

The groups signed up for their order of appearance without any grumbling or jockeying for position.  Frankly, I think they were looking forward to this day.



30 minutes



The students did a great job with their performances.  In each of my classes, only one group per class relied on their scripts.  The rest were completely "off book."  The students did a great job with coming up with original performances and clever little adaptations.

Perhaps the most original concept was from the group "Milkshakespeare" who recreated the gulling of Malvolio in a 1970's-era beauty salon.  The tricksters were seated and peeking out from behind magazines while Malvolio reads the letter.

It was a really fun time.

After each production, I asked the students to praise the productions and to give constructive criticism.  Most of the latter involved lines and volume (volume is always an issue with 8th graders...except for out at recess.)  The positive notes were good, too, though the students tend to value humor a lot and tend to reward the humorous performances very generously.

Oscar Voting and "Presentation"

10 minutes

Originally, I hadn't planned to do any voting for Oscars, but the students gave such positive feedback to each other, I decided to do it.

I had the students nominate each other for Best actor, best actress, and best production.  Then, they did silent voting with their heads down.  Winners stood up, and everyone was very supportive of each other.