The Directing Game
One of the jobs of the director is giving the actors ideas for how to say their lines and how to move onstage. Pick one person to be the director. Everyone else makes up a short scene that includes a lot of action. (Ex: Two kids are having a picnic in a park when all of a sudden it begins to rain. The kids hurry to pick up their blanket, food, and picnic basket. Other kids in the park hurry to the shelter to get out of the rain. Another kid splashes in a puddle. To begin the scene, the director yells “action” and yells “cut” when the scene is completed. The director then assigns a direction such as “slow motion” and the actors do the scene again using this technique. Other directions may include fast forward, overdramatic, doing the chicken dance, walking through Jell-O, laughing hysterically, on one foot, underwater, or backwards.
Actors use tongue twisters to prepare for speaking in front of an audience. As you get better at them, try saying them faster and faster.
Peter Piper, the pickled pepper picker, picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers did Peter Piper, the pickled pepper picker, pick.
A knapsack strap, the strap of a knapsack.
The big black bug bit the big brown bear and the big brown bear bled blood.
Listening is an important skill for actors. They must hear what the other actors are saying in order to respond naturally and they must listen to their director. For the number game, everyone stands in a circle and counts off, remember their number. The last person always begins, so if there are six people, number six begins by saying someone else’s number (four, for example). Number four then calls out someone else’s number (two, for example). Number two calls out another number and so on. When you hear your number, say someone else’s number. It sounds fairly easy, but here are the rules: 1) No pausing. As soon as you hear your number, say another number. If you wait too long, you’re out. 2) Don’t say your own number. If you do, you’re out. 3) Don’t say a number that nobody has. 4) When you’re out, you go to the last place in the circle, and become the last number. Everyone moves up one number. The game gets tricky because everyone has to remember their new number and can’t say their own new number.
Acting isn’t just about memorizing lines. Actors have to express themselves with their bodies as well. Try this fun exercise a with the children. Have the children evolve into frozen sculptures by calling out ideas: 1) Things you would find in a castle, 2) Things you would find in a classroom; 3) Things you would find at a movie theatre, etc. You can create your own lists. Encourage the children to explore their imaginations. For example, don’t just pretend to be the teacher in a classroom—maybe you are a crumpled piece of paper. Use your bodies to create a frozen object.
A picture tells a lot about a character—the way she stands, the expression on her face, the way she looks at others, etc. In each group, choose one person to be the photographer. Everyone else in this group gets together and poses like they’re having their picture taken. The first picture should look like a nice family portrait. Once you are in your family portrait position, the photographer calls out a kind of family such as “sick family” and counts to three, allowing the posing players to change their position. Other family types might include “sleepy family”, “goofy family”, “dancing family”, etc. Remember, you are making a picture and pictures can’t move or make sound.
Set up a chair on one side of the stage, facing the audience. Choose someone to sit in the chair and be the narrator of a story. The person begins to tell a story that is made up as he/she goes along. The other players must act out the story as it is told including sound effects. As the narrator adds characters, a player should immediately jump in and become that character.
One Word Story
Sit in a circle. Start telling a story, one word at a time per person, going around the circle. Try not to pause. There are no wrong answers in this game. Just say the first word that pops into your head and see if the story makes sense. Continue the story until it comes to an end.
Mimes are actors who do not use words or sounds when they act. They rely on their gestures and expressions to show their feelings and let the audience know what they are doing. Try acting out the following pantomime scenes alone or with a group: tug-of-war game, volleyball game, baking a cake, cleaning a kitchen, walking a dog, etc.
Paper Plate Masks
Supplies Needed: paper plates, colored markers, scissors, yarn, glue, decorating supplies such as feathers, buttons, sequins, etc. Using the plate as your mask, cut out eyeholes and decorate using markers, sequins, feathers, etc. Cut a slit on each side and insert pieces of yarn so that the mask can be tied at the back of your head. Now you’re ready to perform. All you need to do is decide on who, what, and where.
Most theatrical sounds can be made by using your voice, hands, and/or body. Have one player call out a sound effect and the other players must make the sound using their voice, hands or body. Suggestions for sound effects include frog, galloping horse, rain, thunder, doorbell, snoring, popcorn popping, train, birds singing, etc.
Pair up actors. One actor is the mirror and must copy everything the other actor does.
Actors pantomime that they are in a very large box. Show audience all the sides. Then the box gets smaller. Show the audience how small it is getting. Then they must figure out a way to escape. The actor must do a good job showing the audience how they have escaped so they can correctly guess how.
Everyone quietly mills about the room. One person will elect to freeze in position unexpectedly. As soon as one notices that someone else has frozen in position they freeze as well. So the effect of one person freezing causes everyone to freeze. Once everyone is still the group starts milling around again. The goal is to see how quickly the group can freeze in position.