The individual lesson plans begin with a theatre game, so you have sixteen games to
choose from. If you don't want to go to the individual lessons you can find them all together in
The first exercise in the "Theatre Games" page, by Augusto Boal, is arguably the most important of all. Participants act out the Bully, the Victim, and the Mediator. Which of the three would you rather be?
This game should be played often during the year.
The Cartoon Run
After a day sitting behind a desk students of all ages often need to let off energy, and the most physically intense game is one I call the "Cartoon Run", like the characters in a Tex Avery cartoon, where the head is always the last to go.
A short, stay in one place, version is a way to end the First Exercise. The more often it is repeated, the better the students learn to control their movements.
Stand. Begin with breathing exercises: breath deeply into the stomach, inhale through your nose and exhale slowly through the mouth. Breath in deeply, and blow on an imaginary candle so the "flame" flickers but does not extinguish.
Ask students to use all the mouth, face and neck muscles while they say, without pausing between the letters:
Pause between letters so they come out like gunshots: A! E! I! O! U! A! E! I!...
Take a deep breath, say the vowels in a whisper. Urgent, pausing between each vowel. From a whisper go louder, and back to an urgent whisper. Single students can lead (the hand up is high, the hand down is low, slowly!).
Make sure there is the same energy level at the end as there is in the beginning.
As if giving orders where to to put things. Point to different spots around the room as you say the vowel, like an army sergeant. Students must point where you point while they repeat the letters. Single students can lead. Everyone points anywhere they want but they must keep the same rhythm.
Use the same techniques for grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure
Place the emphasis on the different words in a sentence
What did you do? What did you do? What did you do? What did you do?
Surprised, angry, pleased, confused?
Much like the exercises in Phonics
To do, To run, To see
Like a drumbeat: Do. Did. Done. Then all together, with the emphasis at the end: dodiddone-dodiddone....Then as gunshots: Do! Did! Done! Do! Did! Done! Do! Did! Done!... and so forth as in the Phonics exercises.
When all three verbs have been practiced put them together:
Do! Did! Done! Run! Ran! Run! See! Saw! Seen! Do! Did! Done! ...
Begin with the whole group to practice certain movements. For example if the mime involves pulling on a rope from the ceiling, everyone goes through the motions of reaching up high, grabbing the rope and pulling down, one hand over the other, in slow motion. Ask the group to express tension so the audience can "feel" the effort of pulling down.
Make certain to pull straight down and to leave a space in the hand for the rope, not just clench the fingers. Put a foot over the rope on the ground so it wont slide back up. The advantage in this exercise; it's focused on the details of the moment.
If the mime involves opening a door, allow space for the knob. Pay attention to detail, make sure the door is completely open before crossing.
The movements should be slightly exaggerated and not too fast, remind students they are not really opening a door or pulling a rope, just making the audience believe they are. The audience needs time to assimilate.
The improvisations generally begin with one actor: A, with a second: B and third actor: C intervening. The first actors can be silent or talk to themselves while they go through the motions.
- You can't find your keys, you can't get back in the house, you're late, your car is towed. Actor B asks you for help finding a dog. Do they know each other? Discuss the possible relationships between the two, and introduce a third actor.
- The rope is stuck on a branch, you pull harder, you look up, frozen. A humongous water balloon is about to fall on your head. B is passing and stops to watch. We can follow the trajectory of the balloon as B follows it with his/her head and eyes. What could B say? You, here? - You're late. - Aunt Bertha is waiting in the limo.
If you don't know what to answer, make a statement: I'm hungry, or ask a question. Where's Jo? This gives an opening for B, who can say anything: On the lanai, By the pool, In the Bahamas, Who knows?
Every story begins with one word
Choose one or two word sentences: Who? Me? or What's that? Not so... In how many ways can they be interpreted? Curious, angry, shy, fearful, surprised, happy?
The last time around, the group must say the words without pause in between - be prepared as soon as your neighbour starts to speak. This doesn't mean rush the words; it must move quickly and still be a clear sentence.
Answer a question with a question
This fun exercise is for two or three actors
The class writes down as many one and two word questions as possible, which are either picked out of a box or written on the board.
The two (or three) actors must say a line while they walk across the stage. What are the conditions? Is it raining, are there mosquitoes, is the sand hot? Are they hiding under a hedge?
- Who, me?
- Why not?
- Where's George?
- What's that?
- Who's there?
- Over there?
- Why me?...
- Good Lord!
- Where to!
- Over there!
- Oh my gosh!
- Up here!
- Why me!...
Add more words to the sentence, and emphasize particular words:
What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?
- What are you doing here, in the garden?
- Who, me?
- What's that noise?
- What noise?
- Over there! In the bushes.
- Where? I don't hear anything. What are you doing? Wait for me!
Ask: What is Actor A doing in the garden? Choose an answer.
- It's Aunt Hilda's birthday.
- What! When?
- Today. Now. She's waiting...
- In the house.
- I thought she was in the Bahamas.
Add a third or fourth character, who is it? A vacuum cleaner salesman, a mouse catcher, the FBI?
Create a situation. The scenarios are picked from a box, so the actors have no time to prepare.
A is a guard, B is the boss. A is supposed to be guarding the warehouse but falls asleep and a water pipe breaks. B walks into the warehouse, through ankle-high water (be sure to shlop through the water). Furious, B turns off the main valve, wakes A and yells. Look at what you've done...!
What is A's reaction? Apologize profusely, say it won't happen again, or act indignant, not paid enough, too much work during the day, old pipes...
The phone rings, it's a customer, Boss' voice turns to honey, reassuring the shipment is on its way. Then it's back to arguing with the guard. The phone rings again, Boss picks up and is all professional and calm, hangs up...
What can happen after? A knock on the door? Who is it? Important customers, a lawnmower salesman, a Jehovah's Witness, a detective (or at least pretends to be one) looking for someone?
The Boss and the Guard team to keep the intruder/s from seeing the flooded warehouse. They don't know that the "someone" managed to sneak in while the guard was sleeping.
WORD GAMES AND SONGS
Crossword puzzles, word scrambles, mazes
tongue twisters and clapping routines
Pass the mustard, hold the custard, spill the salt, not my fault. It's Fred, she said.