Physical Theatre Activities

Written by sylvia cini
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Physical Theatre Activities
Warming up is important for any kind of theatrical performing. (K-King Photography Media Co. Ltd/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Reap the benefits of physical activities by making them a part of your normal welcome routine from the very first rehearsal. Set aside time and space to engage in warm-ups. Get all members of the cast and crew involved, and be a role model by jumping in yourself. Physical activities improve circulation, limber muscles, focus the mind and foster a sense of community within a performing art troupe -- all of which prevent injury on stage and drama off.

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The Machine

In this activity, actors develops individual movements and combine them to form a sequence of motion. Stand in a circle. Select an individual to begin the exercise. Allow the individual to select a simple movement such as clapping their hand or stomping their foot. Instruct the person to the right of the first actor to develop their own movement. Synchronise the movements so that the movement of the first actor leads into the motion of the second with a pause between each repeated sequence of motion. Continue adding individuals with new motions until all members of the cast and crew are parts of a group movement -- i.e., cogs in a machine. A sequence of movements might progress as follows: clap, stomp, swing, burp, laugh, pause, clap...

City Street

Actors engage in mild to moderate physical activity of their choosing while practicing improvisational skills. Mill around the room. Instruct actors to imagine they are on a busy city street, interacting with each other as passersby might. Restrict them to speaking in gibberish tongues, using made-up nonsense words. To make the game more interesting, give actors a distinctive character trait or activity, such as a window-washer with no arms, a vulgar driver, a busy mother.

What Are You Doing

Practice improvisational skills and exaggerated gesticulation by playing "What Are You Doing." Pair off the group. Secretly give one partner an activity to mime such as dish-washing or playing viola. Instruct the second person to ask his partner what she is doing. The actor will lie and announce an activity that she is not performing. For example, if she is washing dishes, she might announce that she is riding a bicycle. The questioner will then begin performing the professed activity, while the original actor asks what the other is doing. This may be expanded for groups of three or four people.

General Warm-up

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Balance on your left foot and point and flex your right foot five to ten times. Slowly, rotate the foot in a clockwise circle pivoting at the heel. Reverse the direction. Repeat with the other foot. Take a deep breath and sink down, bending the knees slightly. Turn the body to the left, and then to the right. Relax facing forward and breathe deeply. Stand up. Bend at the waist, slowly leaning toward the floor. Rise as if stacking your vertebrae, vertically, one at a time. Repeat as needed. Jog in place or around the room for three to seven minutes.

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