Expressing with Passion

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Connecting Passion to our Text

After students demonstrate understanding and knowledge of how to speak with passion, they are challenged to read William Carlos Williams’ poem “This is Just to Say.” Aaron shares his expression with both body and voice as he interprets the words of the poem. After receiving feedback from his classmates, he adjusts both his voice and body statute so that the audience can “feel” his emotion behind the words. Again, initially the student’s movements are very small and there is reluctance to express fully despite Aaron’s willingness to volunteer frequently. The practice and feedback help him gain the confidence to expand his voice and body movements. “I can tell he is sorry, but what did he say?” asks Stefan. Another student concludes, “It doesn’t work for me to emphasize all the words. So, I have to decide and pick some of them, the important ones, to punch out.”

Evaluating Dramatic Moments

The teaching team notices how much students draw from personal experience to enhance their performance skills. In a dramatic role play, Charysma and James decide to improvise a moment where a brother and sister are in a conflict. James urgently needs to use the bathroom while Charysma fixes her hair. The teacher observes that both students have been in this situation before and use what is familiar to gain confidence toward acting out what is less familiar.

A student reflects on the day’s activity, “Even in simple moments now, when I really look at them, I notice things like their eyebrows going up, or their eyes widening, or touching their hair…If someone is happy they will show it in their face and in their body. “


The script for The Greensboro Sit-In is before the students now. They stage the events, taking note of prop pieces needed to complete the scene. James’ commitment to performing is displayed in his marked up script. He underlines words to emphasize and makes notes about his character by writing “New York accent.” The teaching artist challenges students to figure out how to be seen at all times by the audience. “If I stand here then the audience can’t see Jordan’s face (in profile) when we talk,” says De’andre. Students decide that Jordan will stand further away from De’andre to “open up” the scene and let the audience see her face.

Students work as a group to negotiate the staging of the play. They are aware of the nuances of staging a dramatic moment.

Staging the Play & Having an Opinion

Important decisions are made as students confer, “What do we do about discrimination?” In one small group, students agree that by gesturing as a group they will communicate working together. They say “Let’s protest!” There is disagreement in the group. Daisy suggests they all raise their fists in a power salute, but Tommy wants to put his head down to communicate the seriousness of the occasion. The teaching artist suggests that it’s okay that each student does something a little different as long as the actors are all expressing the thought Let’s protest!

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