Another freebie – this time a wee Drama activity: Freeze-frame Comics!
I often use this activity on school visits. The examples here are based on my book Fir for Luck, although you can apply the same principles to any story or class novel.
First establish what a freeze frame is. It is a picture of a dramatic moment in the story, held without movement.
1. Pick two volunteers for the demonstration. One should take the part of a master, and one the part of a servant.
Discuss as a class what dynamic pose (they should both be in the middle of doing something, not just standing there) the characters would strike. The master might stand upright, hands on hips, or wagging a finger at the servant. Facial expression might be stern or even angry. Head will be held high, looking down on the servant (explain use of levels).
The servant, on the other hand, might have his head bowed or look up anxiously at the master. He/she might be in the middle of a task, like scrubbing the floor, or might be begging the angry master for mercy. Kneeling might work.
Once the poses are decided, pupils should hold them for ten seconds without moving. There should be tension in their bodies, as if they were really in the middle of moving – that will make the poses look much more realistic.
2. The Freeze Frame Comic:
For the next part you can either pick volunteers from the class or allow pupils to do this in groups (if you have space enough or are working outside). A few well-chosen costumes and props make all the difference here: for Fir for Luck, you may need a top hat/jacket for the sheriff officer, a shawl for Janet, a wig or waistcoat for the villagers. You will also need a rolled up paper for a writ.
You could tackle the whole book, or just a key scene. A key scene in Fir for Luck is when the main character, Janet, spots a sheriff officer in the distance. Let’s create a comic for this scene!
- First picture: The man is coming to deliver a writ of eviction to Janet’s village.
- Second picture: She runs to warn the villagers.
- Third picture: Together, the women and children overwhelm the sheriff officer, taking care not to touch the writ (touching it would make it legally binding). It is quite a struggle.
Pupils should create a freeze frame for each of these to tell the story. They should maintain their pose and facial expression for ten seconds, allowing the teacher or a fellow pupil to take a photo.
Once the pictures are printed, speech bubbles and sound effects can then be added to create a comic, of the scene or of the book as a whole. They make fab classroom wall displays!
* I’d like to point out that all schools have given me permission to use these photographs. Many thanks!