What's The Story
What’s the Story uses two students to stage a series of simple neutral images so a group can dialogue about how body language and proximity shape an understanding of relationship and situation. This simple strategy provides a low-risk way to explore and apply aesthetic language to describe two character bodies in relationship to one another in space.
Sit group in chairs or on floor in front of an open space with a single chair close to and facing the audience. Ask for two volunteers. Invite the first volunteer to be Character A. “A” stands and faces the group, 5-6 feet behind the chair, at the far end–or upstage–from where the group is sitting. Invite the second volunteer to be Character B. “B” sits in the chair–downstage—facing the audience. Both “A” and “B” look straight ahead, freeze, and try to be as “neutral” in their feelings as possible. Invite students to “read” the relationship between “A” and “B”: Describe what you see Character A doing in this image? What is Character B doing in this image? Ask the group to connect interpretation to what they see. What’s the physical, or spatial relationship between A and B? Based on what was just described, what’s the story of this image? Have “A” take 3 steps forward, but keep everything else about their position the same. Repeat the above questions. Have the “A” take three steps forward, while maintaining their position. Repeat above questions. Continue until “A” is very close to “B”; this usually takes three rounds. Have the group agree on a specific story that they would like to explore further. Who are these characters? What are they about to say to each other? Invite the group to create a line of dialogue for each character. Have the characters repeat the lines to each other. Have entire group give volunteers a large round of applause.
- What did you notice about yourself as an audience member during this activity
- What changed as the characters moved closer together? How did the proximity of the characters change our inferences about the relationship
- Where might we see a scene like this in our everyday lives? How did this activity help us create a detailed story?
- What do you see? Describe how the bodies are positioned? Guide the audience to start with observations, and then interpret meaning from those observations?
- What’s another way to describe their relationship?
- Does anyone have a different interpretation of the story of this image?
- Take a digital picture of the images created by the two students and project it for students to respond as a group or as an individual writing prompt.
- Reading/Writing or Social Studies: Invite students to relate images to specific moments in history or specific moments in a story. Use to generate a creative writing story or to explore how we infer based on context clues.