Tried and Tested - Silence is golden

Subject: Drama

Lesson: Use your audience

Ages: GCSE drama or AS-level theatre studies

Supplied by: Dan Clay, a supply teacher in Greater Manchester

1. What is it?

A lesson looking at audience interaction. By the end, pupils can experience, appreciate and demonstrate how to involve their audience more effectively in a performance through heightening expectation and tension.

2. Who is it aimed at?

This lesson works best with GCSE standard level or AS-level pupils who can then apply some of the techniques in their performance exams.

3. What do I need for the lesson?

Some preparation time, a dark space, a candle, the willingness to act a little and some imaginative pupils. The lesson would be well suited to your gifted and talented pupils as an opportunity to explore their creative side.

4. What happens in the lesson?

Light a candle in a darkened room and gesture to pupils to enter silently. Don't speak to them at all. Seat them on the floor and wait a minute. When they start to ask what's going on, stand behind or close to them with a similar gesture of silence. You can then lead the pupils to consider how best to use your audience in a performance. Discuss their entrance, seating arrangement, ways to interact during the performance and exit. Set pupils the task to prepare a short piece of drama with horror-based content, using as many of these methods as possible.

5. How do you know it has been successful?

You will know by the reactions of the pupils to each other's work that they enjoy manipulating their audience. Be prepared for some screams and being called upon to be in the audience for each group.

6. Why would you recommend this to other teachers?

It's a fun lesson, allows pupils to be creative and imaginative and often leads to excellent examples of drama, the concepts of which many pupils use when planning their exam pieces.

7. Give us three top tips

1. Obviously with a candle involved, take fire precautions.

2. Many theme parks run attractions that require more of their audience. Disney's Tower of Terror is an example. Share pupils' own experiences of these.

3. Although they can use these concepts in an exam, remind pupils that the examiner will not want to be subjected to a barrage of interaction. They can demonstrate some of these concepts by using the rest of their audience on exam day.

8. Useful resources

Visit the theme park websites for materials on these attractions. and are good ones.

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