Resource 2: Performance Choices – A Laban Inspired Exercise2018-03-13T11:06:17+00:00

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Resource 2: Performance Choices – A Laban Inspired Exercise


In the Macbeth movie, the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is perhaps more harmonious than we are used to seeing. They are arguably very much in love and several directorial and performance choices are made. e.g.

  • Lady Macbeth doesn’t belittle Macbeth in quite the same way as we often see in productions of the play
  • They have a very close, faithful and loving (sexual) relationship. It’s noticeable that – unlike Banquo – Macbeth doesn’t become involved with any other women on the way home from battle
  • There is a sadness and tenderness in their relationship breakdown (perhaps best exemplified in the moment after the banquet when they sit next to each other in silence)
  • The vulnerability of Lady Macbeth is apparent. Her obsessive-compulsive behaviour, repeating words that she later says as she sleepwalks – is witnessed by Macbeth in their bedchamber

All of these seem to be clear directorial choices and performance choices. This resource explores how directors and actors might reach such decisions via a rehearsal room technique.


Rudolf Laban was a dance and theatre practitioner who developed a system of ‘effort actions’ to explain qualities of movement, such as:

  1. ‘fast or slow’
  2. ‘heavy or light’
  3. ‘direct or indirect’

You can use a combination of these to explore different movement qualities, before looking at what characters these can unlock. These defining characteristics exist in combination as these eight ‘efforts’ and these efforts can be used by actors to create a quality of movement and/or a quality of line delivery.

Laban Efforts table


  • Provide pupils with input on Laban as above and give them a copy of the Laban Effort actions table (above)
  • Now ask them to choose a simple line of text from the following (all taken from Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s exchange over the killing of Duncan)
When you dur’st do it, then you were a man
We will proceed no further in this business
My hands are of your colour, but I shame to wear a heart so white
  • Ask them to try some of the different ‘efforts’.
  • How does ‘punching’ a line differ in delivery from ‘gliding’ a line?
  • Now watch the clip of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s duologue by clicking here.
  • Hand out the text extract that accompanies the duologue.
  • Ask pupils to work in pairs to annotate the text. Through repeated viewings of the exchange, annotate each line of dialogue by choosing a Laban effort for each line spoken. Do you agree with the choices made by the actors in the film?
  • Now, ask pupils to annotate the text again in a second colour. This time, they are choosing which efforts THEY would like to use when creating their own version of the performance.
  • Allow pupils time to choose their Laban efforts, to rehearse and refine their work.
  • Watch some of the performances back and ask pupils to justify the actions they have chosen for their performance.
View accompanying script resource