Dr. Stephen M. Vallillo
This is a semester long class in acting for the theatre worth 2½ credits.
Course Description: This basic acting course allows students, regardless of their ability or future aspirations, to build their own self-confidence. The course will emphasize improvisation, vocal and physical skills, use of imagination and observation, sensory and emotional recall and scene and monologue work.
Supplementary Instructional Material: Supplemental readings, videotapes and scene/monologue scripts will be used.
Units of Study:
- Relaxation and concentration
- Action as a dramatic concept
- Physical movement and gesture
- Vocal control
- Improvisation and theatre games/exercises
- Working with a partner
- Script analysis
- Comic bits
- Monologue performance
- Scene performance
- To offer students a basic understanding of the acting process, which includes exploring the actor’s physical, vocal and emotional range; developing a sense of active, motivated character choices; and creating specific, connected relationships.
- To give students a chance to experiment with these ideas in exercises, monologues and scenes.
- To give students an introduction to the art, history and craft of the theatre in general.
Proficiencies: At the completion of this course, students will be able to
- feel comfortable on the stage.
- understand the importance of relaxation and concentration on the stage.
- begin using their voices effectively for the stage.
- begin using their bodies effectively on the stage.
- present an action clearly on the stage.
- read a script to find the actions and characters in it.
- begin to learn how to portray a specific character on stage by the use of movement, voice, gesture, posture, relationships, etc.
- work with other students in a give-and-take on stage.
- put these proficiencies together in performances of scenes.
Level Contracting Requirements: When appropriate, students can contract up for honors, as agreed upon by course instructor and Department Supervisor.
Students may contract up for Honors credit for this class, if they are interested. Students will have to perform an extra monologue and an extra scene (with a partner who is also contracting up for honors). Speak to the instructor for more information.
Field Trips and Guest Speakers: Field trips and speakers will be applicable to content and will be determined by the instructor.
Evaluation and Assessment: Description and method of evaluation for each component noted below.
- Performances include all monologues, scenes, and pantomimes which are memorized, prepared and rehearsed outside of class and presented in class or as part of the final performance. In-class rehearsal time will also be given for preparation. Students are expected to memorize lines, find the actions, create both a character and the appropriate situation and demonstrate this in performance. Performances comprise 40% of the grade.
- Evaluation of Scenes
Evaluation and assessment of scenes and exercises includes talent and aptitude for acting, but also includes the work done on the scene and/or exercise, the rehearsal done, the commitment to the work, how well the lines were memorized and how smoothly the performance went.
A………..Connected performance, clear understanding of process, original and thorough work.
B+, B……….. Completing the task, a growing sense of process, exercise realized but not as fully as possible.
C or lower……….. Incomplete work in rehearsal, performance, or class; absences, inability to understand and/or execute process/task, inadequate preparation or rehearsal.
D……….. When a student takes his or her script onstage for a performance that should be memorized, the grade will be no higher than a D.
- The Acting Journal is a weekly response journal, a page-long entry in which you respond to the exercises, scenes, work, etc., you do for this course. You will hand in one entry each week, on Monday. When the beginning of the school week is not a Monday, the journal must be handed in on the first day of school during that week. Even when there is a short week, or vacation, you are expected to hand in a journal entry. If you are absent when the journal is due, you must hand it in on the first day you return. I am looking for your thoughts about the work you are doing. I am not interested in a restatement of what you did, but rather in an analysis of what you learned and/or experienced in the exercise, observation, class, scene, etc. Write down what you learned in the exercises — both in-class and assigned homework, as well as what you observed outside of class. Record your thoughts, feelings, confusions, conflicts, discoveries. As an actor you must be able to articulate your process. Also feel free to discuss things from outside the class that may relate to acting. You could discuss other performances you have seen, a play you may be working on, or interesting people or behavior you observed which you might use as the basis of a characterization someday.
You must hand in your journal on the day it is due. For each day that the journal is late, one letter grade will be deducted.
Your first journal assignment is due Monday, September 15, 2014.
The journal comprises 20% of the grade so do not ignore this assignment!
- Class Exercises are in-class theatre games, acting exercises and other activities done in the class. This can include scenes created and performed in class. Students are expected to participate. Many of the exercises that you are assigned to do as homework will be performed for the class. You must be ready to perform when assigned.
- Rehearsal refers to in-class rehearsal when time is given for that purpose. Students are expected to use that time for rehearsing their performance projects.
- Participation includes participating in all class activities, arriving on-time for class and following class rules.
- In-class work, rehearsal and participation comprise 40% of the grade.
- Final Scenes: The final exam in the course will be a performance of scenes, open to the public. The scenes will be presented on an evening just before the midterm or final exam period.
- The grading percentages are 40 % for formal performances, 20% for the acting journal, 30% for in-class work, 5% for rehearsal and 5 % for participation.
New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standard Alignment: 1.1: The Creative Process; 1.2: History of the Arts and Culture; 1.3: Performing; 1.4: Aesthetic Responses & Critique Methodologies.
FINAL SCENES: Students will present final scenes lasting about five to eight minutes as their final project. This project will be performed for an invited audience after school at the end of the school year, in lieu of a final examination. Our performances will be presented in the Little Theatre, on dates to be determined in January 2015, starting at 7 pm.
- Be ready to explore. We want to create an open atmosphere that encourages experimentation and risk-taking. Be ready to work with your fellow students in scenes and exercises including both vocal and physical work. Encourage each other instead of making fun. Respect each other and try not to offend anyone. Leave any conflicts at the door of the theatre.
- Be ready to work. You are expected to participate fully in all scenes, performances, exercises, assignments, and warm-up exercises and games. When others are performing or rehearsing, you are expected to watch and evaluate their work if you are not actively involved. You will be graded on your participation in each class and you are expected to participate fully. You are not permitted to do work for other classes in Acting class.
- Work on scenes when the class is spent in rehearsal. You must spend the entire class in rehearsal. Even if you think you’ve rehearsed enough, you are not allowed to do work for other classes or sit and do nothing. You will get a zero for participation if you are not rehearsing. You are graded for your rehearsals in class. Do not throw that part of your grade away.
- Dress appropriately in clothes that will allow you to feel comfortable when you are moving, stretching, performing and even laying or rolling around on the floor. Wear either loose clothing, or leotards/exercise clothing. Please wear hair back off your face. I will try to let you know what we will be doing ahead of time so you can dress accordingly; however, you are still expected to participate fully.
- Be on time for class. In order to have time for warmups and all scheduled activities, and to promote a supportive atmosphere for our exercises and work, students should arrive on time. When you arrive late, you can miss work, you can delay the beginning of our work and make the class run long, or you may interrupt scenes and exercises. Even if you come from across the street, you must make every effort to arrive on time. Part of your participation grade is based on your prompt arrival to class. Lateness can lead to detention and your grade will be affected.
- As soon as you arrive, put down your backpacks and other materials (and put your journal in the box if it is due, and then come onstage to begin our warm-up exercises and/or our work.
- Be ready to perform scenes and exercises on the date assigned. Failure to perform will result in the grade of “F” for the scene or exercise. If conflicts arise, you may change performance times with another student, provided that you consult with me in advance and give me a written reminder. Extensions may be granted for legitimate reasons only if discussed with the instructor in advance. If you are sick, or unable to attend due to other problems, you must call the high school (Annex office, 973-509-4100, ext 4004) and leave a message for me as far in advance as possible. Any approved absence must also be documented. That is, if you miss a performance, you have to bring in a note or other documentation. The possibility of making up any performance work is solely at the discretion of the instructor.
- You are expected to memorize monologues and scenes. Part of your grade is determined by how well you memorize. If you take your script onstage for a performance, you will receive a D.
- During class, please sit in the center section of the theatre, in the first five rows. Leave your coats and book bags on the side. You should have only your class notebook, and any other papers we need for that particular class.
- Please respect our classroom – performance space. Do not put your feet on the chairs, or sit on the chairs incorrectly. Besides fostering a lax and lackadaisical attitude towards our work in class, this also makes the room dirty.
- There is no eating, drinking or gum chewing in the Little Theatre. Do not bring in any food or drink except water. We must respect our work space and keep it clean. If you eat, drink or chew gum in class, you will lose your participation grade for that day. If you do it a second time, you will be written up. If you have a problem with this, drop the class. If you break this rule you will be assigned detention and your grade may be affected.
- Please note that I follow the school policies forbidding the use of and presence of cell phones, iPods and other electronic entertainment devices, and the rules prohibiting students from wearing hats. I will take these away from you if I see them. Do not use or charge cell phones in class. All of these items can distract us from the work we want to accomplish in this class.
FINALLY, ENJOY YOURSELF, BUT TAKE OUR WORK SERIOUSLY AS WELL.