How to Critique a Performance


In our class we spend  a ton of time in the rehearsal process. So how can we be sure we are getting better? By watching one another and offering specific suggestions for improvement. Being able to tell someone exactly and specifically what is going great in the scene and what is most definitely not is a skill set to be harnessed, crafted, and honed.

An inspiring short clip that hits home the importance of specific feedback can be found here in Austin’s Butterfly. My students understood the value of it immediately.

Here’s the process we follow.

  1. View the rubric so both groups know exactly what to do and what to look for in the performance
  2. Perform your scene.
  3. Have the stage manager select a warm stem to begin the conversation.
  4. Performers write down warm stem on back of rubric.
  5. EACH PERSON FROM CRITIQUE GROUP MUST SAY SOMETHING to the performing group. [Review the rubric to provide authentic & useful comments.]
  6. Once all warm stems have been issued, each member will select a cool stem. [Again, please refer to your rubric.]
  7. The performers being critiqued say nothing until all group members have provided a warm & a cool stem.
  8. Make sure performers write down one cool stem on back of rubric.

What’s all this warm and cool stem, you may ask? It’s something I stole from a teacher workshop and provides sentence frames for specific feedback.

Warm stems [or suggestions that provide positive feedback] might use something like this

  • A strength of _____is_____.
  • Something I liked is_____ because _____.
  • _____is good because_____.
  • _____ would be stronger if_____.
  • I appreciate _____, the next step might be _____.
  • I noticed _____, and I wish_____.

Cool stems [suggestions for improvement or ways to challenge or disagree without sending one home in tears] are like this

  • I’m still not convinced that _____.
  • What makes you think _____?
  • How does _____ explain_____?
  • I wish I understood why_____.
  • I found myself wondering_____.

Question: So how can use use these warm and cool stems in your real life? How is offering constructive criticism without causing tears an essential life skill?

Remember all comments must include your first name, initial of last name and period: LisaR5.


Categories: Review & Comment

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