1. GENERAL HEADING: Voice and Body Exercises
2. TITLE OF EXERCISE: "The Eyes Have It"
3. GOALS: To help students acquire a variety of visual foci from which to
choose when speaking.
4. NUMBER OF STUDENTS: Pairs (variation for individuals)
5. EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES: None
6. CLASS TIME NEEDED: 10 - 15 minutes
7. STEP-BY-STEP DESCRIPTION:
Prior to doing the exercise, teach the students the following focusing techniques:
The Moving Focus: The eyes move from point to point, stopping briefly at
each point then moving on as though trying to find the thought. The shifts
can be either casual or rapid and intense.
The Fixed Focus: The eyes fix on a point but in such a way that it is evident
that one is not looking at an actual object but simply thinking about something
with great concentration. A thought focus can be maintained for as long
The Eye Shutter: When one closes one's eyes, one is pulling inside the self
either to concentrate or to deal with something strongly emotional. Whether
a happy or sad emotional experience, the emotional communication is intensified.
Be careful! Used too often this becomes an affectation. The eye shutter
must be earned! Play with the timing . . . if your eyes pop open suddenly
you might accidently create a comic effect.
The Light Bulb: An "aha"! This sudden change of thought process
is created by a sudden shift of focus by the eyes, or occasionally, by the
head as well. It is like seeing a new piece of information or hearing a
sudden sound. The eyes (and sometimes the whole head) shift suddenly to
another point of focus. Beware of unnecessary tension in this technique.
Again, use this technique sparingly.
Environmental Focus: The actor can focus on actual elements of the imaginary
environment (e.g., trees, mountains, moon, clouds, etc.). Environmental
focus intends to create the sense of seeing actual objects and landscapes.
The Vision: The heightened fantasy focus uses the power of the imagination
to create visions of an imaginary nature (e.g., to see the face of your
lover, a field of skulls, one's deadliest enemy triumphantly astride the
world, or any powerful fantasy). Such visions can become panoramic, filling
the entire stage space.
As Student A recites her soliloquy (or other long speech), partner calls
out focus (chosen in random order); actor uses focus regardless of whether
it seems appropriate or not . Student A tries to make the focus "make
sense" for that portion of the speech.
8. POINTS FOR OBSERVATION, DISCUSSION: Developing variety of focus techniques;
discovering new meanings for speech depending on focus chosen.
9. SOURCE/REFERENCE: Paul Dennhardt, Western Illinois University
10. ADDITIONAL READING: N.A.
11. VARIATIONS: Students work alone. Each student determines a sequence
of focuses. Recite soliloquy, first by line, then by phrase, and then by
sentence, using the sequence, regardless of appropriateness.