Acting exercises + job interview
June 15, 2021 7:11 AM   Subscribe

I am interviewing Friday to teach a Theatre Arts class in high school. Job interviews at this school always involve a 10-minute demonstration lesson using the interviewers as students. What engaging and meaningful 10-minute acting lesson can I demonstrate with 5–7 non-actors who may prioritize keeping their composure?

My (incomplete*) acting training has either been developed over a semester (Meisner repetition, etc.), warmups (loosening the body, vocal exercises, etc.), or stuff that works with a group that is already somewhat in loosey-goosey movement mode (pass the energy, mirroring, etc.) I'm struggling to think of something that a room of school administrators can do for 10 minutes that will show them I can help them feel a bit more emotionally present and expressive (and maybe get a laugh and a pleasant acting-high).

There's a chance I will be asked to teach one student (there is always a student on interview committees) or choose one "student," so if there is a one-on-one exercise I'm open to that.

* I'm going to get myself beyond ready, with a lot of support. Please don't castigate me on that part.
posted by argybarg to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not in acting but I have had to do teaching demos. Everyone in my field (history) recognizes that teaching demos are weird, and not a true replication of what happens in a classroom. But the idea is generally to see how you handle spontaneous situations, your general educational demeanor, how well you communicate, etc. So I wonder if you're over-thinking this a bit. I'd pick your favorite warmup followed by a short improv game, and ideally practice on a group of friends and get their feedback for what you could do better.
posted by coffeecat at 9:05 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


I always use an improv game (usually object improv) for this, and have them do it once, and then again with a new direction that underlines a learning objective, often 'okay, now lets do it without planning what we're going to say. We're accessing impulse and creativity, and practicing living in the discomfort and unknowing our characters live in at the beginning of a story' or something like that. Hopefully establishing some small growth/learning in the students as we repeat the exercise.
posted by stray at 10:01 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


In my teaching interviews, the interviewers were generally willing to play along. They WANT you to be successful, so they try to interact as best they can.

Take a look at your state's standards for Theatre, and pick one to be the focus of the "lesson". State up front what the goal is, in student friendly language.

As an example, one of the Texas standards is how to convey an idea/character non-verbally (Theatre 1 standard 2E). You could do a lesson on how posture, facial expression, movement, etc conveys a character. This could be done full body, or seated (How would Superman sit at the dinner table? How would Clark Kent?), or with paper lunch sack puppets, or within an improv game. Once you know WHAT you want to teach, you can pick your favorite exercises for the HOW.

Be enthusiastic, show your love for the content, and the interviewers will respond to that while you teach.
posted by rakaidan at 10:36 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


How about teaching them to how to portray intimacy?

You can usually instantly tell when two people who are not intimate try to fake it because of the stiffness of their bodies and how they instinctively keep distance in different ways. Your lesson could start with showing them how to portray being ill at ease - knees together, tightness at the corners of the mouth, chin back etc. and then move on to doing the same things in reverse so that they look relaxed - shoulders dropped, arms and hands not in defensive positions etc.

If your students are reserved and don't do well with the material, you can move on to a third part of the less on how to look dazed or stoned, the way you can tell that someone is not aware that parts of their body are going slack. But if they do engage with the material well in the first two parts of the lesson and you think they are up for it, you can show them how to pose with someone else in a way that an onlooker will read the body language and be convinced that they don't have physical boundaries.

This is useful stuff to know because it can be turned into a lesson on what is or what isn't acceptable intimacy - how to tell when someone is you are observing is having their boundaries pushed.
posted by Jane the Brown at 10:41 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


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