Subtext - (exercises) - "What's Really Being Said"


"What is said under the line..."
 
Subtext:
Learning Goal: Students will be able to identify ‘subtext’ in theatre, create characters and perform various scenes using the ‘subtext’ they create for the script.

Procedure:

STEP 1    Students will play “Translator”
to introduce them to the concept of subtext.

 Four students at a time take the stage in this improv exercise.

-Two students are cast in the role of foreign dignitaries from fictional lands

-Two others serve as interpreters for the dignitaries as they converse.

The Game: The foreign dignitaries speak only in gibberish but convey their meaning through vocal inflection, hand gestures, facial expression and body language.

The translators speak English and attempt to translate from gibberish to English and keep the scene moving.

TALK ABOUT: Class discussion about what SUBTEXT is and how it works.

What is the line that is not spoken?
Subtext is what gives the spoken line its particular meaning.

(SUBTEXT changes interpretation, and depends on the actor)

 

STEP 2    
 
Students play “Line-o-rama” of subtext.

A whole line of students (5 or 6 at a time) get up on stage
One phrase is given to the whole group.

“please pass the salt” 

“just what I always wanted”

“hello, how are you?”.

TEACHER PRESENTS A STACK OF SUBTEXT CARDS
 
They then draw one SUBTEXT CARD and then deliver their mundane line with the subtext informing the delivery. The audience will try to guess at the subtext.
 
Were the actors clear and strong with their subtext? [examples of some 'subtext' written on cards: "I Hate You!"; "Notice me!"; "Did I leave the oven on?"; Please forgive me"; "Leave me alone!"]

STEP 3 
 
Students play out a SUBTEXT Scene 
Groups of 5

In their small groups the students will be rehearsing and presenting a scene 2 ways:

#1.) First they will present their scene with normal dialogue

#2.) Second they "re-do" the scene speaking their subtext aloud instead of their lines.

The Scenario:
It is a family dinner. One member of the family has a big announcement.

 
The Rules:

1.    EACH CHARACTER MUST HAVE AT LEAST 2 LINES

2.    NOBODY CAN HAVE MORE THAN 3 LINES

3.    When performing the SUBTEXT ONLY scene EVERYTHING SHOULD HAPPEN IN THE SAME ORDER; Your characters should move the same way, the blocking should repeat, the order of who is peaking should remain roughly the same-- It should look like the same scene!

4.    EACH SCENE MUST BEGIN AND END WITH A TABLEAU

5.    EACH CHARACTER MUST HAVE A SPECIFIC AND CLEAR POINT OF VIEW!

Good Luck!
 

 

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ASSESSMENT

Terminology/Concept: Subtext

Literacy Objectives:

             Participation in class discussion

             Respond to what is seen and heard

             Communicate in a manner to be heard and understood

             Make an oral presentation

             Reading for literal and inferential content

             To interpret a passage orally

             To compare and contrast

Evaluation:

Students will be informally assessed on participation and effort in playing the games, discussion, and their contribution to their groups during the exercises.

 

Students will then be more formally assessed on their performance in accordance with the performance rubric and also whether or not (and to what degree) they met the criteria for the challenge.

 

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