Tableau Lesson Plan for Drama

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about a tableau in drama with this helpful lesson plan. They will take part in a group discussion about the interesting art form, as well as participate in a fun hands-on activity.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson on tableau in drama, your students will be able to:

  • Describe what tableau means in a drama setting
  • Explain four important components related to tableau
  • Take part in an actual demonstration of tableau


90 minutes


  • Internet access

Curriculum Standards

Please note that each state has different standards for art. Please consult your state's standards to ensure proper alignment.

Group Discussion and Activity

Group Discussion

  • Inform your students they are going to be having a group discussion about tableau.
  • Ask them if anyone is familiar with the art form, has seen it used before, or has even participated in a tableau previously. Explain what tableau is and the purpose of tableau. You may want to use the following in your explanation:
    • The actress or actor is trying to communicate a story with strong poses.
    • A tableau in essence gives you silence amongst text-heavy scenes.
    • The old saying 'a picture is worth a thousand words' certainly applies to the concept of a tableau. After all, we initially don't necessarily know what the characters are doing or where they are located.
    • A tableau is used to make a scene come to life, including the characters, plot, problems, relationships, setting, and theme.
  • Then discuss the ultimate goal of tableau, explaining:
    • The ultimate goal by far of a tableau is storytelling. Every other element in tableau is aimed at that sole purpose. For example, the iconic statue of the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima breaks a lot of the desired rules of tableau. All the soldiers are at the same level, have the same shape, and their facial expressions are not clear. However, an incredibly powerful story is still managed to be told.
  • Furthermore, tell them the four main components of tableau are as follows:
    • 1) Stillness - without this, the tableau isn't completely believed.
    • 2) Facial expressions - these give context of the situation, as well as show emotion.
    • 3) Using space - stretch the body to fill large spaces while employing balance and visibility. This should include not only height, but also depth and breadth. Also, try to feature open (arms stretched) and closed (arms folded) body shapes.
    • 4) Levels - these are small (lying), medium (crouching), large (standing), and they create contrast. You can also think of these as low, medium, and high.

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