Bring Tableaux Vivants to Your Classroom
Welcome to our training page where we present a variety of process drama integration techniques. Below, we introduce a foundational technique called, tableaux vivants (or living picture), along with a variety of exercises that can prepare students and enhance the classroom community, student learning, and conditions for creative engagement.
Drama-based integration practices have a solid track record of contributing to student success across the curriculum. Across 48 studies they produced large positive effects on academic achievement (see results from recent meta-analysis). Tableaux Vivants is an time-tested process drama technique that can enhance students’ engagement with and comprehension of abstract learning material across the curriculum. Feel free to learn more about teacher and student perspectives on learning through tableux vivants in our own published book chapter.
Tableaux vivants is a straightforward technique. To best prepare a classroom of students we find that implementing scaffolded exercises will set the stage for inclusive engagement and creative risk-taking. In the video series below, we worked with students and educators from the ArtCore project to produce material that can lead you and your classroom through exercises and the creation of beautiful tableaux vivants with a variety of different content. Enjoy the videos and please share how you use tableaux vivants in your classroom (email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org).
What is Tableaux Vivants?
This video provides educators and students background about the tableaux vivants technique and how and why it can be powerful for diverse learners with abstract and tricky content.
Exercise 1: The Changer
The Changer is a great exercise to get students thinking with their bodies, observing closely, and getting comfortable moving and performing casually in front of peers.
Exercise 2: The Clapper
The Clapper provides students the structure to work together toward a common goal. The exercise helps to sharpen their focus on timing and synchronicity in collaboration with others.
Exercise 3: Unique New York
These exercises focus on speaking clearly, taking the time to annunciate for understanding, and playing with new possibilities to sharpen public speaking and performance skills.
Exercise 4: The Circle
This exercise provides playful space for students to improvise movement in relationship to others as they negotiate tight space. The experience can sharpen students coordination and proprioception before they begin to build tableaux vivants scenes together. Like other exercises, The Circle is lighthearted and social, inevitably producing laughter and joy.
Exercise 5: Walk & Freeze
The Walk & Freeze exercise builds nicely toward the use of the body to explore concepts, emotions, experiences, characters, events, historical periods, and all kinds of learning material. Like the others, this exercise builds off the power of the social learning experience, especially important for adolescents. Though fun and experiential, it begins to ask students to look at the body as an aesthetic learning tool to express new meaning and possibility.
The Elements: The Building Blocks of Tableaux
This video is a comprehensive look at the most important ingredients to preparing and enacting tableaux vivants. These nine essential aesthetic building blocks are: 1) different levels, 2) facial expressions, 3) depth, 4) making a focal point, 5) considering proximity, 6) implied motion in body position, 7) using gestures to enhance meaning, 8) the overall shape of the bodies in position, and 9) holding a position completely frozen. This video will provide great anchors for you and your students to think about and remember when making original tableaux vivants.
A Deep Dive into Tableaux Vivants
This video pulls all of the pieces together to demonstrate how you can scaffold the experience for students from the warm-up exercises to a classroom presentation or formal performance for an outside audience. (The creative solutions are also beautiful to witness. Enjoy!) You may also find this detailed illustration of the scaffolded steps helpful for future reference.
We hope you enjoyed this training series. Please feel free to share with others and share your own experiences with us.