Throughout our experiences at 4th Wall, we’ve often been challenged to teach students singing, dancing, and acting AND come up with a short performance to present to families, all in an hour or less! Seem impossible? We thought so too, until we came up with some clever show formats that give each actor their moment to shine with absolutely NO rehearsal required! Here are some of our favorites:
1. Red Carpet
The instructor serves as the interviewer, and each student chooses a character to portray. Characters can be anything, from real live actors to athletes, cartoon characters to superheroes – anything goes! Choose an event that your characters are participating in. It could be a movie premiere, opening night at the Olympics, the first day of school…you name it!
Students line up on one side of the room and the instructor places themselves center stage. One by one, each student takes a turn crossing to the instructor and being “interviewed.” The interview can consist of simply asking each character “who are you?”, or can contain more complicated questions, depending on the needs of your students. Once each student has completed their interview, they cross to the other side of the stage, ultimately remaining in their line. This format is really fun, as it truly gives each actor a starring moment to be as wild and wacky as they want!
2. Interview Panel
A modification to Red Carpet, this version allows for students for whom staging can be difficult. If entering and exiting the stage seems too daunting to achieve with little or no rehearsal, simply have your characters stand in a line across the stage. The interviewer then moves from one character to the next, while the actors can remain in their spots. While this version is much easier to stage, the downside is that each actor does not feel as spotlighted as they do when standing on stage individually. (You could help accommodate this by having each actor step forward on their turn, or by having everyone else sit until their turn comes, at which point they may stand up.)
3. Lost and Looking for Home
The instructor plays the central character, who is lost and looking for their home. The staging is similar to Red Carpet, or if you’d prefer, you can use the more stationary staging from Interview Panel instead. In this format, each character is asked the same question: “Do you know where my home is?” They may choose to respond with a simple “yes” or “no,” a full sentence, a head nod or point, whatever they feel comfortable with.
This is a great format for first time actors of all abilities. Actors may choose a character or play themselves – either way, they are gaining the experience of acting on stage and creating a scene. They may choose to speak a lot, a little, or just gesture, and the presence of an instructor as the main character makes it a safe environment to try something new!
It can be fun to have your actors help you to come up with the main character and what their home is. Is is a princess looking for her palace? Santa Claus looking for the north pole? This gives them some ownership in the final product, and makes the whole process more fun!
4. Fashion Show
This one is especially fun if you have props or costume pieces to use. (We particularly love our Melissa & Doug Top This! Role Play Hats) However, no special costumes are required – simply a flair for the dramatic!
The instructor serves as the emcee as each student acts a model, parading across the stage and showing off their attire. When the model reaches center stage, they strike three big poses before moving on to the other side of the stage. If desired, you may add an interview question to provide “lines” for your actors, but it is not necessary…this could easily be used as a nonverbal performance format.
As each actor walks and strikes their poses, the emcee can provide commentary on their outfit, their poses, or even their general “swagger”…just focus on making them feel awesome and watch their confidence soar!
5. Show and Tell
We often spend time in a theatre workshop learning about stage directions and basic techniques. In this format, our students show what they’ve learned to the audience. Whatever you’ve decided to focus on that day, share it with the audience! For example, as the narrator you could say “As an actor it’s important to speak loudly…this is called…” and all the students yell “Projection!” Or you could have students point to the various stage directions, demonstrate crosses, etc. Students may demonstrate as a group, or individually. This gives students a chance to perform, as well as sharing with their families all that they’ve learned that day!
For ideas on writing your own performance with a multi-week class, check out our ebook here!