Copyright 2000
by Phillip Martin
All rights reserved.
redbutton.gif (760 bytes) Homeyellowbutton.gif (800 bytes) P.O.W.E.R. PLAYSredbutton.gif (760 bytes) E-mail

powerplaysg.gif (1687 bytes)

Pupil Owned Written Enacted Recognized PLAYS


If it is a club or a classroom involved, you need to involve everyone. Otherwise, you may want to hold auditions to select the students. I personally think, every student who auditions should be involved in the production.

I've included a list of audition activities. The audition process works best if you can have at least one other adult involved. That person may see some talent that you overlooked. It will help a lot to bounce ideas and observations off of each other when making the final list.

1. Jeepers Peepers

This is a fun activity to loosen people up. You have to get rid of inhibitions! Everyone sits in a circle with their eyes closed and their heads down. When the teacher says, "Jeepers Peepers!" everyone needs to look up -- either to the left, right, or directly ahead. If you make eye contact with another person, scream at the top of your lungs.

2. Practice with a Selected Script

In advance of the auditions, let the students study a script that involves two actors. On audition day, you will learn a lot about the participants. You'll see who has memorized the script, practiced blocking, and who hasn't even read it once. It will give you a good indication of what to expect in the future with that actor.

For the actual audition, you may choose to have the actors perform alone (to see them relaxed) or have them try in front of the group (to see them under pressure).

3. Invent a Language

Create a situation where two people communicate in made-up languages. It could be something like a waiter and client at a restaurant or a policeman pulling over a speeder. The students must focus on facial expressions and tone of voice as they create the unintelligible conversation.

4. That Thing That You Do

Give the actors some kind of a nervous twitch. It could be an elbow that flies completely out of control, an eyebrow that raises continually, or a hip that swings out of joint. They need to give a speech about some topic while coping with the twitch.

5. The Jungle

Have the students imagine they are animals in the jungle. How would they move? What sounds do they make? How do they communicate with the other animals of the jungle? Imagine how they would move in a drought, at night, or while hunting.

6. Pantomime

They are good with their mouths and we all know it very well. Let them focus on body movements like opening doors and windows.

7. Hidden Words

Divide the actors into small groups of about six. Give each a slip of paper. Most papers will be blank. However, two people will have words that they must somehow slip into the conversation with out being obvious.

The students are then given a situation where they must act and speak. Even students without the key word must participate. It may not be easy to slip a word like kangaroo or milk shake into a conversation about baseball, but that is the challenge presented.

8. Throw a Fit . . . or Something

Suggest items (ping pong ball, basketball, baseball, cannon ball) that the kids can pretend to throw and catch. Stress the importance of being realistic in the situation and not overacting.

9. It's Not What You Think It Is

Students sit in a circle with a chair in the middle. They must use the chair as some sort of a prop. It can be anything except a chair. I've had it used as a steering wheel, lawn mower, shopping cart and even a toilet in the past. The pace for this should be fast and stress the importance of everyone trying to participate.

10. Role Playing

This is probably one of the best activities you can do to see who can improvise. In groups of two, give the students situations where they must act and converse. Real life situations like bad test scores and problems with parents work well. But, crazy situations are also fun like encountering aliens while roller blading.

11. The Way that You Walk

Have the students walk across the room under many different circumstances. Perhaps they are knee deep in jelly or slipping on slime. They could be on hot grease or under a blazing sun. The most depressing way is how they walk when they are 50. They can also walk like different people such as a queen, a cheerleader, a weary worker, a tight rope walker.

I like to use this as the final activity. I have the students pretend they are walking on glue which has already sealed their lips. They must gather their belongings and silently leave the room.

12. Infomercial

A good activity for improvisation is to give students an object that they must convince others to buy. The zanier the better. Objects could be as useless as square tires, opaque glasses, silent alarm clocks, Styrofoam slippers, or paper underwear. The actor's job is to make you realize you really need these items.