Copyright 2000
by Phillip Martin
All rights reserved.
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Pupil Owned Written Enacted Recognized PLAYS

Acting Games

After the audition process is over, it is still a fun and useful idea to frequently play acting games with the students. It gives the students some useful acting skills and is a fun way to begin or end a session of work.

A. Name that Movement

Have the students sit in a circle. One by one they must say their name and think of some kind of a movement that goes along with their name. The next person in the circle must first repeat the name and action of all previous actors and then create a movement to go along with their own name.

B. Professor

This gives the actors more practice with improvisation. The actor is the professor, the expert on one topic. They have one minute to expound all the wisdom they have on the given area of expertise. It doesn't matter how absurd the topic, they are the expert and everything they have to say must be the truth.

Possible areas of expertise could be:

-- fashion sense of Mediterranean glass blowers

-- courtship rituals of earthworms

-- the origin of the name Clinton

-- the most powerful love potion known

-- what really happened to Elvis

-- why Madonna is really an alien

-- the lost city of Ungah

-- why the Titanic is the worst movie of all time

-- cannibalistic women of the ancient world

-- Picasso's lost paintings from his rainbow period

C. The Line Up

Blindfold all students and then have them line up. They must feel the heads and shoulders of the person in front of them. Then, move the students to various locations in the room. They must find the person in front of them and get back in line exactly as they started.

The lead and end people will occasionally have to announce his or her location to give the others a reference point. Those two people stay in position while the others roam freely about the room in search of their partners.

D. The Circle of Trust

It is important to have trust in the acting troupe. In this activity, have students get in small circles of five students. A sixth student stands in the middle of the circle with eyes shut. The student in the middle leans into the members of the circle who gently push this student in other directions. The student in the center must not bend body or knees during the entire activity.

E. Running Blindly by Faith

The entire cast scatters to various edges of the room. One volunteer walks about the room blindfolded. This person must trust the others for guidance. The cast is not to allow this person to walk into the wall or other objects that may be harmful. After a little practice, have the volunteer pick up the pace. It is possible to do this even at a jogging pace.

F. The Great Oracle

This is a highly successful activity when members must work together. Three people come before the rest of the room as the Great Oracle. When asked a question, they must assume the pose of the answer. Then, they must answer the question -- each person taking turns to add one word at a time to the sentence.

After giving an example, let the audience ask questions of the Great Oracle. Sample questions could be:

Oh, Great Oracle, who is the man/woman of my dreams?

Oh, Great Oracle, what must I do to find the fountains of youth?

G. The Photograph

In this activity it is important for the students to communicate non-verbally. In groups of five, the students need to form a photograph of a scene. One by one they assume the position needed to frame the photo.

Situations could include a wedding, WW II, graduation, the dentist's office, an alien invasion, or an MTV video.

H. Tag Team Photograph

Two people are required. The first person strikes a pose (perhaps pointing a gun) and then the second person strikes a pose to complete the pose (like raising hands in the air). After the pose is completed, the first person sits down but the second person remains. Then, a third person comes in to complete the new photograph.

I. The Human Machine

One by one the participants form part of a machine. Each person assumes a function and a sound. It is good if not all parts of the machine are standing but they need to assume poses that they can sustain over a period of time. Otherwise, it will be a painful experience.

After the machine is fully assembled, try it in gear two, three, four, possibly ten, and then end the activity with a breakdown.

J. Who's in Control?

One person leaves the room while the other members of the cast separate and sit around the room at different angles. Each person is assigned a number. Person one, the leader, must be in clear view of number two. Person two must be clearly seen by person three. The leader moves in a very slow motion performing many different kinds of activities. These motions are copied by person two, and then three, etc. Once the entire room is in motion, the person who left the room returns. It is that person's job to figure out who is in control.

K. Explosion Tag

Students pretend to be fighter pilots. They zoom around the room chasing other fighter pilots. When they tag the "plane" it explodes.

After the explosion, they may continue the activity pursuing other pilots.

L. Break In

Two actors pretend to be either a cop or a robber. One tries to steal the crown jewels that the other protects. They pretend to do this in the dark. Next, the same situation is repeated with blindfolds. The actors and audience are asked to discuss differences they observed in the two performances.

M. Hedge Walkers

Similar to the break in, have the students pretend they are walking on a ledge a mile up. Note their movements. Then, have them walk on an actual ledge. Are the movements the same or different?

N. Bus Ride

A bus driver takes his passengers to one location. Each character enters the bus one at a time with a specific emotion or characteristic. It could be laughter, depression, a gangster, or a flirt. When it becomes evident what that character represents, all passengers on the bus must follow that lead.

O. Human Mannequins

Actors pretend to be mannequins performing several activities like tossing a ball, bowling, painting a house, or climbing through a window.