Commedia x1






Context: Pupils have been looking at melodrama and are now going on to linking this with commedia

Homework: Log books

LEARNING OBJECTIVE: To understand the stock commedia characters and how they link to melodrama/silent movies

CHALLENGE: To be able to do some of the stock walks and gestures of the commedia characters

Outline of the lesson: (include teaching and learning styles/AFL/strategies/support)


Starter (hook): Welcome pupils and register – they have to answer with something they have learnt about melodrama/silent movies.. Recap on all that we have looked at so far with melodrama and silent movies. Give pupils some background on commedia and the style of acting.  


Silly Walks - Cross the circle doing an exercise or silly movement. Whoever you walk to has to do a move or walk next of their own until all have had a turn.


Glee - To encourage the use of unusual body language, practise creating and releasing tension and confronting each other without laughing. Raise shoulders, tense muscles as much as possible, screw up faces saying ‘Gleeeee!!’ in a very tense restricted tone. Hold for a few seconds then on teachers command - ‘Deadpan’ all relax the body and assume complete deadpan/neutral position. When comfortable with this pupils should point at each other (still tense) and say ‘Glee’. The pointing should be as inventive as possible, eg over shoulder, between legs etc. When in relaxed mode they should be able to look at each other without losing the deadpan expression.


Main:  Go through PowerPoint together which looks at different characters – all pupils to practice stock walks. Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxp_YjvoilQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUnaNTfTzuM&feature=related. Watch and discuss.


Mid Plenary: Put pupils into groups of 4 – in their groups they each have to practice one of the following characters: Arrlechino, Pantalone, Isabella and Columbina. Once they have perfected one stance they need to switch around so that they are trying a different character. Pupils to help, support and encourage each other – teacher to circle, assisting.  Pupils then select the character that they are best at and show it to the rest of the class – peer assessment.


Activity 2: In the same groups and using any characters that they have come across – pupils need to devise a scene following the commedia theme using as much of the stock body language as possible. They could even try to develop a character Lazzi – again discuss what this is. Pupils to start devising, teacher to circle, assisting.


Plenary:  The performances – who is performing their character well and how. Peer assessment. Two smiles and a wish. AFL – do pupils understand the stock characters? Complete log books


Planning for Progress:

1. All pupils will be able to copy the stance and walk of a commedia character

2. Most pupils will be able to perfect this walk and also develop some of the characterisation

3. Some pupils will be able to develop a Lazzi for their character and give a convincing performance

Resources/Risk assessment: PowerPoint, YouTube clips.





Topic Aims:

  • Students will explore storytelling orally and physically through group work
  • Students will consider viewpoint and narrator in storytelling
  • Students will understand something of traditions in storytelling
  • Students will understand the need for focus in performance


Lesson 1 – Rainbow’s Ending


Learning Objectives:

  • Students will explore spontaneous storytelling through group and paired exercises
  • Students will experiment with animating a narrative text



Texts – Rainbow’s Ending

Highlighter pens



Register, settle

Outline objectives (as above)

Warm up exercise – Fortunately / Unfortunately (whole class - circle)


Main :

  1. Pairs develop Fortunately / Unfortunately – quick-fire
  2. Pairs use “And then….” Exercise to devise story content
  3. Same pairs explore physicalising this oral text, enacting spontaneously
  4. Explain task, ie
  • Read through text (whole class), unpack it.
  • Explain groups will develop this into performance
  • Explain you do not have to use all the lines, select some and make up rest  as needed
  • Use highlighter pens and make notes to help formulate ideas
  • Groups will edit, devise, rehearse and show work
  1. Group work (in 2-3’s) –Read, discuss, edit
  2. Groups devise and rehearse
  3. Show work



Recap work covered

Class evaluation of own and others’ work

Discuss ideas for improvement

Review objectives:      What has been learnt from this exercise?

  • Effective use of voice – a subtle and powerful tool for conveying mood, atmosphere, character
  • Animating the story enhances the storytelling

Lesson 2 – Viewpoints


Learning Objectives:

  • Pupils will explore use of still images to capture key moments from a text
  • Pupils will consider the re-telling stories from a chosen viewpoint



Poem, “Mountain Bride”



Register, settle

Outline the objectives (as above)

Read text, class discuss

  • First impressions – where / when is it set? Clues?
  • Who is telling the story?
  • Is it soon after or long ago?



    1. Group work (2-3) – allocate verses to groups (2 per group?) Students to create still images of 2 key moments. (non-naturalistic is best!) These will be shown in sequence as text is spoken
    2. Groups develop and refine images
    3. Show in sequence as text is read
    4. Introduce main group task, ie Develop the story as an improvisation / re-tell the story
      • Give the story a point of view – whose story is it? – Revis, Martha, Martha’s uncle?
      • Consider the audience – where is it being told, to whom? – to children, down the pub, as a moral tale…….
      • Consider effective techniques for performance – flashback, mime, images, sounds…..


    1. Prepare and rehearse. (circulate to check understanding, etc)
    2. Show work – class respond



Review learning objectives – how / why did you choose those still images? Identifying key moments

Review how different viewpoints gave story a different slant. Explore as appropriate. What difference does it make if storyteller was actually there, or if it was hearsay?


Lesson 3 – Direct Address


Learning objectives:

Students will:

  • Explore direct address through the re-telling of traditional folklore
  • Acknowledge use of Direct Address as a Brechtian performance technique



Folklore extracts



Register, settle

Warm up if needed (walkabout / Fortunately Unfortunately)

Recap previous sessions, skills used, effective storytelling techniques

What is Direct Address? – someone talking straight to the audience (give examples from previous work  - also film / TV)

Discuss how we might do this – groups will have joint responsibility for sorting this in their work today – will they step in / out of character, use reported speech, 3rd person?

Brief information on Brecht – 1930’3/40’s – drew influence for direct address from traditional storytelling – no need for elaborate sets, etc

Explain that we should have fun with this piece of work – embellish / adapt the story as you like!



  1. Split into groups 3-5)
  2. Give out synopses, groups to read, agree main content, action, characters
  3. Groups devise an improvised response, using direct address as performance technique (circulate to check understanding, support, move it on)
  4. Shape ideas for performance, check using Direct Address
  5. Groups show work, class discuss, peer evaluation



Review objectives:

  • What techniques have you used to re-tell stories? Direct Address (& others?)
  • Remember Brecht! Any doing A Level will meet his work!
  • Think of other examples in TV, film…..
  • Was it fun? Did it work? 


Lesson 4 – Loop Scripts


Learning Objectives:

Students will:

  • Gain confidence in interpreting a script for performance through experimenting with pace and mime
  • Explore and understand the value of “focus” through repetitive action



Loop Script extracts, for groups of 2 – 3



Register, settle

Warm up – walkabout, freeze – repeat freeze

Outline objectives, ie Loop Scripts – lots of fun, also help you (as performer) to feel comfortable with working with script. We will use rehearsal / performance methods which will help focus.



  1. Introduce task: working in pairs or groups of 3.
    • Must learn the script off by heart
    • Perform in a loop - movement, gesture, facial expression, positioning, voice must remain the same each time
  2. Groups prepare and rehearse
  3. Show work
  4. Same task – slow motion
  5. Show examples
  6. Ditto – speeded up
  7. Ditto – mimed
  8. Simultaneous presentation (half class at time) – importance of focus
  9. Explore forward/ reverse :
  • Can be mimed or with dialogue
  • Actions must remain the same but in backward sequence
  • If using dialogue – don’t say the words backwards – say the lines in backward sequence
  1. Present examples



Review objectives

  • What have you learnt / reinforced?
  • How did you develop concentration / focus? – controlled repetition / simultaneous performance – Actors need to be able to do things on stage at the same time as others (keep your own focus)
  • Repetition is important – audience are seeing something for the first time – it should still appear fresh and sharp on the 10th night of a run!

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