Surprise! I found a performance technique in Marty McGuire, a chapter book by Kate Messner about a third-grader who just wants to catch frogs and play with the boys. Much to Marty's dismay, she lands the part of the princess in the school play, and she didn't even audition.
The lesson idea: Sculpture Garden (58-68)
In "Sculpture Garden," students take on various roles and create a garden of sculptures by freezing in place.
1. Group students. In MM the group has eight students.
2. Students take turns striking a pose and announcing who (or what) they are and what they're doing.
3. Students remain frozen in place until cued to "come to life." At that point, students move as their "character/object" would move. "I want you to do---and say---whatever your character would do and say in this situation, given everything happening on the stage right now," says James, the drama coach in Marty's class (66).
Suggestions for Varying Sculpture Garden:
I see Sculpture Garden as a variation of tableaux vivant. Teachers could use sculpture garden as a form of assessment. Have a list of characters and objects from a short story, a chapter in a novel, or a scene in a play. Next, have students draw a role to play, have them take turns posing for the part, and have them present the part when cued. In MM the drama instructor claps to cue the students. Of course, other cues work. I like counting down: "Three, two, one, action."
Another variation might be to have students work in groups to create a sculpture garden. They choose parts from a short story, a chapter, or a scene. Students work together to present their poses based on what makes sense in terms of the work. Finally, they create the scene through performance. Those watching the scene could then describe the characters and action as a follow-up whole-class discussion.