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)


6. CLASS TIME NEEDED: 10 - 15 minutes


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 as desirable.

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


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.