Monday, November 30, 2009

Dress Rehearsals: Greek Tragedy

tragedy in the afternoon

Sixth grade dramatists present their original greek-style plays

Wednesday, December 2: 6a and 6b

thursday, december 3: 6c and 6d

located in the Annex

(across from the main entrance of north campus)

Showtime: 4 p.m. both days

call time for actors is 3:30

all family members and CPa students are invited to attend. please show up promptly no later than 3:55 to see the performances. all 6th grade students are required to attend. please make arrangements for pick up at 5 p.m.

All sections: Dress rehearsals! Here is the performance order for Ms. Blumenfeld's classes.

Weds 12/2

6A: Oz, 3 Little Pigs, Hansel & Gretel, Boy Who Cried Wolf

6B: Pandora, Goldilocks, Pigs/LRRH, Oz

Thurs 12/3


6D: Peter Pan, 3 Little Pigs, Deinara, Rumpelstiltskin

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Masks and props

Homework: None officially assigned, but students were instructed to practice their lines if they needed to.

Classwork: Finish and perfect masks and any small props that need to be painted, glued, or otherwise crafted.

Free time projects:
1. Draw a portrait of your character, full body, in an appropriate setting, with color.
2. Write a character monologue. Some prompts:
  • a speech talking about something in the play (choose an audience)
  • a news report
  • a one sided telephone conversation
Some etymological fun: monologue comes from the Greek word monologos, meaning "speaking alone." Dialogue, likewise, comes from the Greek dialogos, and means "conversation between two or more people." Both words came to English through Latin and then Old French.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tragedy rehearsals

Homework: Practice lines! Most students still need LOTS of work, not on memorizing, but on expression. ALL students could definitely benefit from more practice. Try reciting in front of a mirror.

Warmup: Circle mirror. In order, each person starts a movement which everyone else copies. We did a speedy version of this today to get everybody moving.

Rehearsal: Groups practiced once on their own with masks and props, then in front of class.

Tomorrow: mask repair, more practice.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

mask making

No homework for tomorrow.

Today, students worked on their tragedy masks. Tomorrow, they will do the same. That's it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Peer rehearsal

Everybody off book today! I'm so impressed by how well each actor is working, and how the groups are helping each other out.

Class started with each group making a props list to figure out who's bringing what.

Circle warmup: we played "What Are You Doing?" using a piece of cloth as a prop so actors could come up with imaginative uses for the cloth.

After a quick run-through in groups, everyone came back together to go over the guidelines for peer feedback. Then groups were paired off - one group performed while the other watched. The audience group offered feedback. Then the audience group performed their plays while the other group watched and offered feedback.

Tomorrow: masks

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More blocking, memorization

Homework: Tomorrow is the deadline for being off book. Over half the actors already have their lines memorized - way to go!

Blocking is going well. Actors are giving each other good feedback, especially when it comes to facing the audience, entering, and exiting.

Tomorrow, the props masters will hand in lists of props and supplies they need, we'll run through the plays without scripts, and we'll talk a bit about mask making.

Thursday and Friday: mostly masks. We will run through again on Friday to make sure everybody still remembers their lines.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Greek Tragedy: Blocking

Homework: This is a self-directed assignment - each student is responsible for memorizing their lines in order to be off book by Wednesday. Since everyone has different parts, students will have to judge for themselves how much time they need to put into memorization.

We will finish mask making after everyone is off book. So if Wednesday's rehearsals go well, we will spend Thursday and Friday on masks.

Today's classwork: We started with some quick physical and vocal warmups. Groups that didn't get a chance to perform for the class on Friday performed today and got feedback. The rest of the period was spent on rehearsal and blocking.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Greek Tragedy: Class rehearsal

Final drafts of scripts were due today.

Each group ran through their play on their own, then performed for the class and took feedback. Things to watch out for:

  • turning backs to the audience
  • speaking too fast or too slow (pace)
  • speaking unclearly (diction)
  • speaking too loud or too soft (projection/volume)
  • standing in front of other actors so they can't be seen (levels/sightlines)
  • expression and characterization
I am so impressed with how well these groups are working together. Many students are putting in extra effort to make these plays as good as they can be.

Homework: work on memorizing lines

Next week: Let's be off book by Wednesday. We can do it! Once everyone is off book, we'll finish our masks.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Greek Tragedy: Rehearse & Rewrite

Important dates:

Friday, 11/13: Final draft of script due
Wednesday, 11/18: All actors off book (lines memorized)
Wednesday, 12/2, 4 pm: 6A and 6B performances in Annex
Thursday, 12/3, 4 pm: 6C and 6D performances in Annex

All 6th graders are required to attend BOTH performances. They should last no more than an hour. Actors should bring snacks. Call time on both days is 3:30 pm.

Today we practiced some quick vocal warmups using character voices. Groups then ran through their plays and worked on their lines.

Groups that work from their final drafts tomorrow and find they still need to add lines may choose to revise over the weekend and hand in changes on Monday.

We'll aim to finish masks next week.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

read-throughs, rewrites, and etiquette

Due tomorrow: TYPED second draft, either printed out or emailed to me at

Thanks to everyone who brought in their mask making supplies! We are going to have some amazing looking masks. We will start with the papier mache base layer on Friday, so bring in your sloppy shirts/smocks/aprons to avoid the dreaded gluey uniform problem.

Today was dedicated to read-throughs in small groups and, for some sections, in front of the class. Audience members were asked to observe proper etiquette as well as to watch for who the tragic hero was, and what their tragic flaw was.

Some students may be familiar with audience etiquette as regards live performances like classical concerts, recitals, and formal plays. Etiquette between performers is just as important.

Etiquette means "proper or socially accepted behavior." The earliest known usage is from 1750, from French étiquette "prescribed behavior," from O.Fr. estiquette "label, ticket." The sense development in French is from small cards written or printed with instructions for how to behave properly at court (cf. It. etichetta, Sp. etiqueta), and/or from behavior instructions written on a soldier's billet for lodgings (the main sense of the O.Fr. word).

This information is from the Online Etymology Dictionary at:

So audience etiquette just means how you should behave as an audience member. When you are an audience member during a school performance by your classmates, even in rehearsal, you need to exercise special care and consideration. Here are some guidelines:

1. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. If something would distract you while you were performing, don't do it while someone else is performing.

2. Give focus. Your attention helps the actors keep their minds on performance.

3. The performers can see and hear you just as well as you can see and hear them.

4. When asked to give feedback, keep it positive and relevant. If you're evaluating the tragic hero and you comment about a student's performance, you're off-topic. If you're making a suggestion for improvement, do it gently and give options - don't just tell someone they did something badly.

Performance dates are tentatively set for December 2nd and 3rd at 4 pm in the Annex at the North Campus. More on that later.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Greek Tragedy - Rewrites and Run-throughs

Complete first drafts of the entire script were due this morning. I wrote comments for each script I received - these should help your groups with rewrites.

Due tomorrow, Thursday: mask making materials. Bring to Room 103 if you have items to share with all the classes. Keep items that are just for yourself in your cubby.

Due Friday: typed copy of the second draft. Someone from each group will need to take responsibility for finishing this. Scripts may be printed out and handed in to Ms. Blumenfeld or emailed to

Today's classwork: groups got together to read through each script. Reading through helps during the writing process, especially to show how long the play is, what parts make sense together, and what needs to be rewritten. You can also improvise off the lines you already have written to see how scenes might be made more clear.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tragic tragedies

Scriptwriting Day 2:
It's a long hard slog, but we're getting there. I'm seeing some similar issues in every class.

1. We should know who the tragic hero is, and what their flaw is, by the prologue.
2. The play should focus on the tragic hero, not on telling the story. The audience already knows the story. Our job is to tell it in a tragic way. So even if you are retelling, for example, Snow White, you would spend more time with the Queen as tragic hero than you would following Snow White around through the forest.
3. Choose the late point of attack carefully and jump right into it in the prologue. It's right before the climax of the story, at the most convoluted and tense part of the rising action.
4. The second episode should occur after the climax and should depict, through dialogue and monologue, the suffering of the tragic hero.
5. Only the chorus speaks during the stasimons.
6. Please, please please don't script "valley girl" characters with snotty attitudes. It's really not funny, and it's an easy answer that's far below your abilities.
7. Break up the writing tasks - have a few people work on episodes, while the chorus members write their stasimons.

On the other hand, I'm also seeing, in every class, some great things:
1. Good teamwork and collaboration on coming up with lines.
2. Teams are being responsible about working steadily for the entire period.
3. Everyone has a good grasp of the structure of tragedy and seems to understand what kind of action belongs in the different parts of the play.
4. Your work on developing personality traits for the different characters and making connections to other stories (for example, other Greek myths or fairy tales) has been well thought-out and original.
5. All the groups are doing a good job of imagining how their masks and costumes will look.

Tomorrow: 2nd draft.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Greek Tragedy - Scripting/Mask Materials

Today's warmup was to write about how to show characters' personalities using the Actor's Tools: voice, body, imagination.

In class we began the actual script writing process. Groups were in charge of how they wanted to do this - either writing all together, having some students write their lines by themselves and bringing it back to the group, acting some parts out, or a combination. Our goal was to have a first draft ready to hand in by the end of the period, but most groups only got through the first episode or so.

Also, each group assigned a costumer/propsmaster in charge of making a list of necessary supplies. I will compile all the lists from each section and send out a letter to parents requesting materials.

No homework tonight.