Alan Marshall Bella Edwards Bob Howourth Brian Davis Brenda Cook Carol Chilcott Claude Rimmer David Conn David Glover-Kirk David Parry-Jones David Scott David Talbot faustus group Jack Mundy Jacky Long Joan Clews Joan Goodyear John Vowles Kathy Stewart Kevin Hogan Lizzie Lane Lyn Martin Mary Lansdown Nicholas Selway Peter Sutton Richard Edwards Robert Chapman Robert Tooze Royston Tanner Sarah McGreevy Stephen Canaby This River Winding Tina Kelly Tom Hodson georgeT

Workshop Games and Exercises

These ideas and games are for use during acting workshops and rehearsals to help participants loosen up and get some interaction going. They should be fun to try, have a go and tell us what you think.

two pictures of actors pointing to the sky during rehearsals

focus

Pick up to three people from the group. Have them stand in front of the group (their audience) for as long as you or they can bear.
Did they look comfortable?
What emotions do you think they felt?
What emotions did they feel? Were they embarrassed?

Either use the same people, or pick new volunteers. This time, the leader takes them to one side first, and asks them to think of an emotion (love, anger, disappointment) but to try not to show it.
Do the audience know what the volunteers are thinking?

Another three people stand in front of an audience. This time, the leader takes the volunteers to one side and tells them to remember every detail of what they did after they woke up until that moment, as they stand in front of the audience.
Do they look different to the volunteers who just stood?

In a large circle, everyone must watch the leader. Without warning, the leader will jump into the circle, throwing their arms in the air and shouting "Ha!" The rest of the group has to try and jump at exactly the same time as the leader. Try this a few times. If the group is starting to get the hang of it, try the exercise again, but this time anyone in the circle can lead the 'Ha!'

In a large circle, everyone stands with their eyes closed. The group must count upwards from 1, one person speaking at a time. If two people speak at once, the group must begin again at 1. A hint for this exercise: it works best if the group count fairly slowly and rhythmically. A group that knows each other well can reach one hundred or more. Also try the exercise with everyone lying on the floor.

creating tableaux

In pairs, facing each other. Person A holds out their hands in a pattern or shape. Person B then has to add to Person A's shape with their own hands. Hold the shape for a couple of seconds. Person A then removes their hands, leaving Person B's pattern. Person A has to come up with a new shape to add to Person B's. Keep the patterns going, always remembering to hold the patterns for a couple of seconds before changing. Participants can use one hand or both, can play with levels of hands (high or low), or can even just use one or two fingers if they feel like it.

The leader can then ask the group to create hand patterns that they think relate to words like love, jealousy, anger, joy, fear, etc.

This exercise eases participants into using their bodies in a fun and non-threatening way.

In pairs, Person A moulds person B into a statue - they have ten seconds. Swap over. If time permits, do it again, but this time give the sculptors a little bit more time and let them look at each other's work when finished.

Next allow the pairs to work together on a statue, again giving them only a short time. Ask them to create a statue of two friends out doing something together that they enjoy. Give them 20 seconds to discuss it, and create the statue between them. Point out any that are particularly clear or that use their bodies in imaginative ways.

Two photographs: Actors sitting and lying to represent the deadly sins, and dancing wearing long paper tongues

Divide the group in half, and ask the first half to sit down facing the other half. The sitting participants are the audience (group A), the area in front of them is the performance space, and the standing participants are (for the moment) the actors (group B).

First, ask for a volunteer from group B to take up a position on a stage. They are to choose a statue pose for themselves. It could be of anything. The rest of the group must take to the stage one by one, looking at the stage picture in front of them, then turning themselves into a statue that they think fits with the picture. When all of group B are onstage, group A can decide what they think group B might be doing. There are no right or wrong answers! Swap the groups over.

Take group B into a corner and whisper to them a place where large numbers of people may be found engaged in different activities. Ask them to think of something that each of them would be doing if they were in that place, and then to move onto the performance space and make a statue of it. When all the statues are in place, group A must work out where the statues are, and explain which statues make them think it might be that place. For example, if the place was the seaside, there might be people swimming, making sandcastles, etc. Swap the groups over.

two rehearsal photographs: Alan Marshall playing violin with 4 actors singing behind him, and actors standing around Faustus who is seated at a book-laden table.

If the group enjoys these exercises, try extending tableaux work into the narrative. Divide the group into 3 or 4 smaller groups. Find a small piece of text with a strong narrative (nursery rhymes work beautifully), and read it to the groups. Give them a few minutes to create a tableau that they think illustrates that narrative. The groups present their work. Next, they are given a few minutes to create a tableau that they think shows the event that happened prior to the first tableau - it could be minutes, hours or days before. The groups present their 'past' and 'present' tableaux together, holding the first for a few seconds before walking into the next. Finally, they are given a few minutes to create the tableau of the results of the 'present' tableau. Each group presents their 'past', 'present' and 'resulting' tableaux, holding each one for a few seconds then walking into the next, as before. The groups have created picture stories.

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