Freeze Frames Drama Teaching ideas and resources
1. Stimuli: Envy and Acceptance:
Discuss the elements of a freeze frame i.e. a clear purpose, the image should have importance – the start or end of something or when something changes; levels; characters and positions; the portrayal of tension.
Introduce scenarios for the students to produce / self evaluate freeze frames: Stimuli: Envy and Acceptance
Pupils develop Freeze Frames that capture both emotions.
Evaluate: elicit pupil feedback.
Focus on body language and proxemics
2. Stimulus: Broken Friendship.
Begin by eliciting possible causes and background to broken friendship and how these might be presented.
Ask pupils to devise a freeze frame of both the public and private face of a group of friends photo who about to experience a difficult separation.
Explore transitions – melting between the two.
Sequence the two freeze frames together. Explore transitions – with all members touching each other, or breaking from the touch. as they move to the new freeze frame.
Focus on body language, proxemics, facial expression and gesture
3. Stimuli; Embarrassment, Worry, Anger.
Split the class into groups of 4 or 5 and ask each group to find a space of their own and produce a freeze frame that represents Embarrassment (1). Offer help to the pupils in formulating their freeze frame as required. After 4 minutes, countdown from three and ask all groups to freeze at the same time.
Repeat with the next emotion, Worry (2),
Repeat with a third, Anger (3).
At this stage, the pupils have 3 freeze frames ready but they have not seen any other group's work. Ask each group in turn to improvise a family at dinner. The pupils should be instructed to adopt roles within a typical family; mother, father, 2 children etc. The improvisation must contain the line, 'So, how was your day at [school / work etc.]
Run the improvisation and when a trigger word is implied ring a bell and shout the number of a freeze frame that will fit.
Here's an example of a typical dialogue:
Father: Could you pass me the salt please?
Mother: OK, does it need salt?
Father: Only a little, it's very nice actually.
Father: So, how was your day a school? First day today wasn't it?
Daughter: It was good, I made lots of new friends.
Teacher rings a bell to freeze the improv: Embarrassment.
The pupils should now silently form their first freeze frame:
Teacher rings a bell.
The pupils should silently return and continue the improvisation until a trigger is found for worry.
4. Stimulus: The School Report Card.
Different groups of 4/5
Each group is given a stimulus for ‘Final Report Card Day; ‘breakfast’, ‘Last Period - a Science Lesson’, ‘the report card is issued’, ‘the trip home’, ‘evening dinner’, ‘the next day with friends’.
Run each scene around a circle to show the whole report card day.
Each group should insert an emotion appropriate to the situation for at least one of the characters.
Share and evaluate.
Groups must now create a scene using role play for the 20 seconds leading up to a Freeze frame. End the scene with the Freeze frame, concentrating on the emotion(s) of a character (s).
Bring the Freeze frame to life again so we see what happens next
End in a freeze.
5. Technique: Thought tracking. Stimulus Poem; Crabbit Old Woman.
Read through the poem and discuss the feelings of the main character and why she might be feeling like that.
Begin by asking the pupils to create two freeze frames, one of the scene in the care home, the other of a scene from the past.
Ask each member of the group to devise one line that their character might say aloud.
During each freeze frame, walk around and tap a pupil on the shoulder. At that point the pupil should remain frozen and deliver their line.
6. Technique: Cross-cutting. Stimulus Poem; Crabbit Old Woman.
As the pupils to add speech and movement to their freeze frames from the previous exercise.
Ask two groups to perform at the same time. The teacher should ring a bell to cross-cut between the two scenes; as the bell rings the group performing should freeze and the other group begin their role play.
Move backwards and forwards between the two scenes.
7. Technique: Freeze Frames / Thought Tracking / Cross-cutting. Stimulus Poem; Crabbit Old Woman. Bringing it all together.
As an extension to the above exercise, the pupils should cross-cut between the old lady in the nursing home's funeral, and the nurses who are complaining about her in the present day.
Add a freeze frame of a happy event from the old lady's life.
Add thought tracking: telling details of the old lady's past life.
8. Technique: A Movement Sequence.
Pupils stand in a line, one behind the other, first person steps forward, facing the group and does a gesture or movement to communicate excitement to the audience. The Amusement Park!
One by one everyone copied this gesture so as to learn it. The last person adds a different gesture to communicate excitement. The rest of the group copied these two movements together. The last person added a third gesture, different again.
This way you ended up with a movement sequence based on excitement.
Develop with Choral movements, slow motion, thought tracking.
9. Technique: Stage Discipline to Mark the Moment
Stop pretending you're something you're not!
Ask the pupils to create a freeze frame that shows friendship, or a group of friends meeting. Evaluate. On the strike of the bell, release the freeze by adding speech and movement for 30 seconds. Introduce the line, 'Stop pretending you're something you're not.!'
Ask the pupils to freeze on the word 'not'
On the sound of a bell, release the freeze frame by adding speech and movement again.
The scene should finish on a third and final freeze frame.
This is a challenging task as the pupils are not asked to create an easy or straightforward image. Both images are based on abstract nouns which we cannot visualise or touch.
This task invites a more abstract tablaeu rather than a realistic 'photograph' of an event.
This task is important as it allows the pupils to explore the concepts of ideal and truth. This exploration deepens our understanding of the theme. Pupils are asked why there are two different versions. Note the physical connection in the transition to metaphorically portray how the friendship is breaking.
Believe it or not, this actually works.
This lesson allows the pupils to explore the difference between what is said, and what actually happened or was felt.
As a teacher you might have to wait for the trigger to stop the drama and shout the freeze frame number, but don't worry, it will come.
You might think that a problem might arise in that the focus of a freeze frame is not the focus of the trigger word during the improv. It doesn't matter. This makes the freeze frame more abstract.
Yes, this could be prepared to all fit together nicely, but it's important to keep it 'live' as heightens the value of the improvisation exercise too, both for the participants and the audience.
This lesson allows the pupils to focus on the emotion that is significant within their role play.
Running each scene one after the other helps to focus on the different emotions that are felt throughout the day. This is more efficient than allowing each group to set up in a specific performance space - the pupils should perform where they prepared.
Using thought tracking allows the audience direct access to the inner thoughts and feelings of a character.
This is different to using spoken language as a character is permitted to speak a thought aloud, and perhaps one that would not normally be voiced - as in the poem.
This is a simple but effective introduction to cross-cutting. It's simple because the main character is in both scenes. It also helps the pupils to practice 'stepping in' and 'stepping out' of a performance by using freezes.
This is similar to someone pressing the pause / resume button on a film DVD.
The intention behind this exercise is to explore the different feelings of the characters further.
Perhaps the old lady's family are all present at the funeral. Perhaps the nurses could be very bitter about how difficult the old lady was to manage.
Using a movement sequence gives the pupils a chance to bring their freeze frame skills together in sophisticated manner. It allows the pupils to to distil an event or emotion into a shorter, more effective presentation.
This lesson helps to practise the discipline that's needed for successful drama, in particular, where, when and how to freeze. And how to release that freeze too.
The introduction of a bell, rung by the teacher, to release the freeze frames helps to formalise that discipline.