Drama exercise games help actors warm up and hone their skills, build group dynamics, encourage creative thinking and break the ice between new cast members and classmates. Teachers and directors can also use these games to help their actors work through problems they have with their characters or the play, or with their own self-confidence and focus.
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Acting is built on truth and trust. Actors must not only feel comfortable in their own bodies but they must also feel at ease with their cast mates. Games that build trust among actors will make way for more open, honest exploration and performance. One exercise that helps promote group confidence is "The Lift." One actor lies down while the rest of the group works together to lift him over their heads and carry him around the room. Turns are taken until each actor has been lifted and carried. A variation on this exercise is the "Trust Fall," during which actors partner up and take turns falling backward from the standing position into each other's arms.
Strengthening the group dynamic will boost unity and cohesiveness. Group games like "The Family Portrait" will help actors familiarise themselves with the techniques and working processes of their fellow performers. Have each actor in the group choose a role in the family, whether it is mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, pet, etc. Then, without allowing them to speak, have them create a family picture that portrays specific relationship dynamics and family characteristics. Examples of family types include vampires, garden tools, celebrities, acrobats or animals. An outsider should be able to view the picture and instantly understand the kind of family, the roles of each actor and the feeling of each relationship. This game will also help teach actors how to react and respond to each other within the confines of their own storylines and to better observe the actions of others.
Actors' bodies need to be pliable and responsive. They should understand how their bodies naturally move and react to certain stimuli so that their personal movements can be discarded when taking on roles that are very different from who they are. Actors should also understand how movement adds to the words in a script. "Moving Through Space" allows players to explore different scenarios through movement. One person calls out different physical states such as fast, heavy, bumpy, windy, etc. The other actors must embody these states whether as themselves or as their characters.
Improvisation is a kind of performance delivered without any previous preparation. Improv games teach actors listening skills and help to increase their confidence while acting in unscripted moments. These exercises can also help actors explore their characters in more fluid ways that do not directly relate to the events in the play. To play "Foreign Movie," have 4 actors work together to create the basis of a scene. The first 2 players will act out the scene without words while the other 2 actors supply the dialogue. This game forces each participant to alter his actions, reactions, motivations and goals in response to the decisions of the other players.
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