At the beginning of every acting class that I teach, we have something called a check-in. We sit in a circle and the students are allowed to share . . . well, whatever they want, really. They might share something funny that happened to them, something they’re looking forward to, something that’s bothering them, or something completely random and bizarre. And I share too. And mine fit into all of those categories at different times.
I started doing check-ins when I began teaching at a summer camp in Wisconsin many summers ago, as a way to gauge what kind of mind frame the students were in before we started class. At the end, we would do check-outs to see what they got out of the class and what they learned. Over time, the check-ins continued to evolve, and I eventually began doing them at the studio where I teach in Mt. Horeb. I recently started including my youngest classes (7-9 year olds), and that has worked amazingly well.
The check-ins, depending on the size of the class and their stories, may take anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes. It has become one of the students’ favorite things that we do in a class. They can often be heard talking and planning what they are going to share during their check-ins before class. And I happen to think it’s one of the most important things we do.
Why? Because I feel that one of the most important aspects of theatre is the ability to create a group that can operate not as a bunch of individuals, but as one. To realize that everyone matters and that we must all do our parts, or play our roles, is vital in theatre because we either succeed or fail together. In order to create that, everyone must know and trust each other. And I’ve found that checking in is one way to do that.
Here are the benefits that I’ve seen from doing check-ins:
And here are our basic rules:
I consider check-ins one of the most important things that we do in class. In an indirect way, it shapes everything we do or accomplish in class or on the stage. For a play to be successful and for actors to create characters that are believable and real, they need to feel safe. Safe to let loose and play. And sometimes that begins by simply sitting in a circle and sharing something with your fellow actors. No matter how ridiculous it may be.
Here it is. Steven's blog, where his thoughts about things are revealed. Good luck.