Creative Drama Sensory Awareness Activities

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Teenage actors participating in creative drama or acting classes will gain understanding of how to develop a character for performance through exercises and activities that develop their sensory awareness.

Actors must have sharpened use of their senses of sight, hearing, touch and smell in order to build convincing characters and remain open to what is happening onstage around them.

Sense of Sight

Students can develop their sense of sight by through creative drama games that ask them to be astute visual observers. Place the group in pairs and ask one person in each pair to take a minute or so to scrutinise everything about how the other person looks. Then, have the person who has done the "looking" turn away while the other person changes three things about how they look. Then, the observer turns back around to identify the other person's changes. Switch roles and repeat the game. Visual awareness can also be strengthened by playing the "mirror" exercise in which pairs standing face to face must mirror each other's actions exactly.

Sense of Touch

Have students work in pairs, one person as the "sculptor" and the other as the material to be sculpted. For this activity, students will develop their sense of touch as one student guides the body parts of the other, through touch, to form into a statue. Show those acting as the "sculptors" how, by placing their hand gently on the other person's wrist or upper back or knee, they can ask the person posing as the "material" to form into a chosen shape. Once the pair has made the first sculpture, have them switch roles. Once every student has become a statue, ask each student to use his sensory awareness to recreate the statue without the guidance of the "sculptor's" hands.

Sense of Hearing

Improvising to music can help sharpen students' awareness of sound and how it can affect dramatic creation. Choose a few vastly different styles of music. Have the students all work in one group, walking throughout the space. Tell them that you will be playing different types of music, and they should use their response to the tone, rhythm and style of music to inspire them to create a character. Ask them to be specific about how this character walks and carries their body, using the music as an inspiration. Play the different musical selections and allow the students to create their characters. Then, have each student, one by one, present their "sound inspired" characters to the rest of the group.

Sense of Smell

Bring in actual objects with strong and distinctive smells -- roses, lemons, ammonia or bleach. Have the students sit in a circle and blindfold them. Pass around, one by one, your "smelly" items asking them to briefly smell it and, rather than worrying about identifying the object, ask them to allow it remind them of a specific time and place from which they remember this smell. Have the students, while blindfolded, attempt to recreate the sense that they are actually present in the event that contained the smell. Discuss with them how this awareness of the sense of smell might have inspired memory of certain emotional experiences from their past. Explain how these memories could be used to develop the emotional life of a dramatic character for performance.